Listening to boat owners, Speaking out for boat owners, Representing boat owners.



Some of NABO's work on behalf of boaters! Much of what we achieve goes unseen by the waterways community, even boaters and our own membership, because it goes on behind the scenes. It is often not about winning or loosing but about maintaining a long term relationship with navigation autorities and refreshing the knowledge of what is going on. It is from this strength that we can campaign and respond to individual events or wider consultations. However, there are certain areas in which we have been instrumental in affecting the waterways world. If you scan the website you will see some of these achievements. In this section we list some of the successes in recent years.

Click on the item title to read the full story.

  • In the Chair Report 2023

    I must start by welcoming our new NABO News Editor, John Sadler, who has bravely stepped forward to take over from Peter Fellows, who is leaving the waterways and decamping to live in Ireland! And what a hard act he will be to follow – each year, Peter has somehow managed to develop NABO News to the point where it is now widely recognised as one of the premium journals related to our waterways. Each edition is full of insightful commentaries on the state of the waterways, and provides technical content of interest to all. I know also how much it is both welcomed (and often feared) by the respective waterways’ operators! I often count the days between its publication, and the first reactions from the latter organisations…

    I need also to follow up on our AGM, and say how pleased I was to see new people offering themselves for election to our Council. Indeed, it is the first time since I became your chair, that we have a full complement, and what a pleasure this is,

  • A busy year for the Association and an uncertain future for the waterways.

    Annual Report 2022

    A busy year for the Association and an uncertain future for the waterways.

    Mike Roddaddresses the AGM.

    There is a vital role for NABO in these times, when the continuing state funding of both CRT and the EA is coming up for review – right in the midst of a totally chaotic time for our government! As a result, we have been more active than ever and fortunately our very active council has risen to the various challenges.

    For the Council, we seem to be settling down to a mix of face-to-face and virtual meetings – the latter working very well and certainly reducing our costs. We have also been encouraged by another small increase in our membership numbers – largely, I am sure, because of the issues that we have been tackling, which have a direct impact on most boaters. We are clearly being seen by many as probably the only active boater representative organisation willing to act as a critical friend

  • Happy 30th, NABO

    Happy 30th, NABO

    Although formed in 1991, last year’s pandemic distracted everyone from NABO’s 30th anniversary. Here’s a belated summary of some of the issues facing NABO 30 years ago.


    Phil Bland and Jon Darlington formed NABO, joining forces with Syd Beacroft and Dave Green, who had called a meeting to form a boaters’ organisation. NABO’s first open meeting, on 25th August was in Dudley and was an overwhelming success, with 69 boat owners joining on the spot, bringing the initial membership to over 130. Speakers from the floor said they did not feel that anyone had hitherto been prepared to listen to the views of individual boat owners.

  • Another fascinating year in the life of NABO

    Mike Rodd’s2020-21 Annual Report to the AGM

    This has been a particularly interesting year and especially a real joy to be working with so many new members of your Council, even if the bulk of meetings have had to be via the internet. It has also been encouraging to see a small increase in membership – largely, I am sure, because of the issues we have been tackling, which have a direct impact on most boaters.

    What has been the most worrying development, however, has been the seemingly growing feeling that both CRT and the EA are actively ignoring the views of their prime customers, us boaters. Yes, at times we have publicly opposed some of their actions and/or proposals, but we have consistently said that we aim to fill the role of – and indeed must always remain – their ‘critical friends’. And with both of their agreements regarding government funding coming up soon, they need more friends than ever right now – and especially the boaters, who care more than

  • Heritage and the Canal and River Trust.

    During the last century, British Waterways began the sale of canalside properties, listed or otherwise, and this has been continued over the years by the Canal and River Trust (CRT). Although a recent Freedom Of Information request asking how many listed buildings have already been sold was denied, seasoned boaters and canal enthusiasts could easily compile a list of exceptional buildings that have already been sold off, to the absolute detriment of the UK’s historic and unique canal system.

  • A month of meetings

    Mike Roddreports on the work of an active NABO Council.

    At last – back on our boat for a week – it was wonderful; and good to see the hire fleets starting to operate again. Of course, being based in Wales, we were always slightly out of line with England, but at last the lifting of the two sets of lockdown restrictions overlapped! And with the spring blossoms bursting through, even though a bit chilly still, it was a lovely time to be out on the water.

    The NABO Council is busier than ever – everywhere we look, we see matters that need our attention – but thankfully, with a full Council again and with the very energetic new folk joining us, the load is well spread and we are coping – even if our teleconference-based meetings are getting very long.

    We wait, of course, with bated breath for CRT’s next version of the proposed new Terms and Conditions for private boat licences. I hope that by the time you read this, we will know where we

  • NABO News - our brilliant magazine!

    NABO Newshas been published six times a year since shortly after NABO was formed in 1991. For many years, the cover featured the familiar NABO roundel, but in 2010 the Council decided to change to a full-colour cover of a waterway scene that would change with each issue. The following year, NABO’s 20th birthday, we decided to print the whole issue in colour and acquire the magazine’s own ISSN number. Some of the original features have been included from the outset, including Fly on the Wall’s (and other iterations such as ‘Pseudonym’s’) observations of Council meetings. Over the years, regular features have been added, including Regional Reps’ reports and ‘Techies Corner’. This has increased the size of the magazine to the current 32 pages.

    But some things haven’t changed: articles on the lack of transparency by

  • Red diesel to remain on the inland waterways.

    At the budget in March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed that boaters can continue to use red diesel with the customary declarations on tax split. You may recall that the Treasury held a consultation at the end of 2020, and NABO responded as we reported in the October NN. We are delighted that the Treasury have listened to us. NABO has been campaigning on this for more than 20 years! This sets aside, once and for all, the European Court judgement that was threatening us for many years. There will be other changes to the red diesel market as proposed last year. In 2022, the construction industry and mobile refrigeration will change over to white diesel, and this may impact on some of our suppliers. This is because of the change in volumes of the diesel supplies. We shall have to see how this works out. Overall this is excellent news and a very pleasing

  • A most unusual, but rewarding, year

    Chairman’s Report to the AGM 2020

    Mike Roddreflects on his last twelve months in the Chair.

    Having resumed as Chair once again when Stella had to stand down, I am delighted that she has made such excellent progress health-wise. She has, however, had to move back on land and give up her boat, so I guess I am ‘it’ for a while. But my task is made so much easier by having such active and fully engaged colleagues, both on the Council and also as our Regional Representatives. And what a year this has proved to be – not just through the Covid lockdowns, but with both CRT and the EA clearly getting themselves geared up for a future in which they will have to bid for Government funding, by making extensive internal changes and very significant operational modifications.

  • Update on the CRT ‘terms’ consultation

    This is one of those NABO moments when our long-term knowledge, experience and memory pay back. Like no other inland boating organisation, we just love the small print and legalities. We do this so that boaters are represented with a balanced and informed view. We do not do this to find loops holes in the law or the terms; neither do we do it to support those with no respect for the law. We do this in the face of BW’s and now CRT’s intransigent and in our view illegal approach to our licence contract.

    Our strength comes from our membership. Our influence comes from the long term work we do with CRT and other navigation authorities to build the relationships. That does not mean we agree with them on all things. There comes a time when we have use that strength and influence. This is now. You can be part of this by joining. The links are on the web page. You can help by joining now.

  • Yet More on CO

    David Fletcherhas news of a study to monitor CO in boats.

    Carbon monoxide (CO) continues to kill several boaters every year. The BSS requirement for alarms was introduced last year, accompanied by a significant press campaign, but there continue to be incidents, and the number of boats failing examination on this point continues to disappoint. The highest numbers of failures on private boats concern the amount of fixed ventilation. If this is your boat, you are at risk because there is not enough air movement to disperse the small amounts of CO contamination that are inevitable. Remember that the BSS is not about your safety; it is about the navigation authority discharging its duty of care to others.

  • Council Report for the AGM

    Mark Tizard and Mike Rodd prepared a review of 2019.

    Thank you for coming. Stella Ridgway, our Chair, unfortunately can’t be with us as she continues to recover from her kidney transplant. Stella is standing down from our Council and, on behalf of NABO, we would like to thank her for her service. She will be missed both by her NABO colleagues and also as a boater’s representative on CRT’s Council. During the year, our Vice-Chair Paul Howland passed away unexpectedly; his wise words are greatly missed.

    Last year has been a challenging one for NABO: your Council has been spread thinly, seeking to establish contact and relationships with the new CRT Regional Directors, and the first meetings have taken place. On top of this, the latest major reorganisation has seen many experienced managers leave the Trust. During the last couple of years, with constant management changes, it is perhaps not surprising that communications with CRT have

  • Vice Chair writes for TT

    Vice Chair mark has been writing a monthly column in 2018 for Towpath Talk. The item appears normally on the inside of the back page of the paper typically if 5-600 words. He has been responsible for the subject matter and keeps it topical focussing on the views of boaters he has met and NABO members. He aims to be constructive and thought provoking. Sometimes it is necessary to be critical of CRTs actions but where possible, alternative policy options are suggested . Topics often reflect those that appear in NABO’s Facebook page and other boating related social media. Areas covered over the year have been broad ranging from , dredging, visitor moorings, friends and volunteers, funding , enforcement, stoppages ,licensing, infrastructure, attracting new boaters. Hopefully following NABOs aim which is to be a critical friend of CRT.

  • National Inland Navigation Forum (NINF)

    NABO is an active member of this informal forum which brings together organisations with navigational interests, with meetings often having invited representatives of waterways authorities.

    NINF members include AWCC, BM, CBOA, GOBA, RBOA, IWA, TBA and DBA. Meetings ensure regular dialogue between these organisations and especially those concerned with waterways covered by CRT and the EA.

    Over the past year (2018) much discussion has revolved around the possible inclusion of EA's navigational responsibilities into CRT - NABO is one of the few organisations which has expressed concerns about this, feeling that CRT has yet to prove that it can effectively cope with its current responsibilities!

    NABO is committed to work together with other waterways representive groups, recognising their expertise in specialist areas, but maintaining our own independence.

  • NABO input to the Middle Level Bill

    The Middle Level Commissioners, the land drainage authority for over 120 miles of The Fens waterways, have been working to change the laws under which they operate, effectively to ensure that in future all boaters will have to pay a licence fee, have a BSS certificate and are insured. The original bye laws date back to 1875.

    When debated by the House of Lords, NABO publically supported the Bill in principle but felt strongly that there should be the provision for an agreed minimum level of facilities and visitor moorings.

    NABO was most pleased that this commitment has been accepted in full, see this letter of undertaking.

    The draft of new bye laws supplied to us in October 18 is here.

    The Middle Level web pages are ...

  • CRT Navigation Advisory Groups

    CRT operate a number of important "advisory groups" covering a range of different areas from freight and navigation to volunteering and heritage. These are committees set up to provide a consultation body for CRT discuss proposals, policy and performance. For boaters the "Navigation Advisory Groups" or NAGs are the relevant committee.

    NAG comprises boaters with a variety of backgrounds to bring as broad a range of perspectives as possible to decision making. These representative are appointed in their own right, and not as orgaisational representatives. Never the less they are expected, where available, to bring the wider knowledge of boating organisations to the meeting.

    There are two parts to NAG, and a NABO Council member is appointed to both parts.

  • R. Trent Skippers Guide

    We are delighted to make a new guide available written for the guidance of leisure boaters on commercial waterways. It covers and Yorkshire and the Trent Commercial Navigations.

    This is mainly for pleasure boat skippers unaccustomed to rivers, tides and waterways carrying freight.
    The advice is given in good faith and no liability can be accepted for any consequences of its use.

    You can download it here.

    It cannot be comprehensive in a booklet of this size so you should gather as much information as you can from other sources including CRT’s Boater’s Handbook, charts, tide tables, experienced personnel and other publications.

    Original content courtesy of First Mate Guides, NABO and the barge operators, updated by Stuart Sampson in 2021 with information kindly supplied by IWA, CBOA and CRT.