Covid 19 situation. The latest Government FAQ’s are here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do. This includes the list of local restrictions which continue to change, Glasgow tonight!. Stay safe out there. We have a long way to go before we are free of this.
Reports from around the system are that the waterways are busy, with plenty of private boats out, and all the hire fleets booked. The Thames was said to be very crowded last weekend with many day boaters in paddle craft causing significant navigation hazards. Members are reporting jungle conditions on the towpath and many navigation hazards from offside trees. Please report, report, report.
Grass cutting. CRT and Fountains are now publishing a weekly programme of mowing. You can find a link for it on this page: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/specialist-teams/maintaining-our-waterways/vegetation-management/mowing-the-grass/grass-mowing-map.
Weather. The end of the month has seen two named storms, Ellen and Francis, passing through. Trees have been falling across the cut all over the country. CRT is to be congratulated for the speed at which the contractors were able to attend and clear fallen trees from the navigation. Hopefully the reservoirs have been topped up.
Stoppage notices. Infrastructure failures continue to appear on an almost daily basis. There is an increasing trend of some of these being caused by boaters, like the damage at Nottingham lock, although these are still in the minority. A good example of an ongoing problem would be Hillmorton locks, acknowledged by CRT as the busiest in the system. However, only one set of the paired locks is open and, on the open middle lock, only one paddle was working, resulting in a queue of 26 boats according to one boater in the queue. Members are recommended to sign up for CRT stoppages email if planning a cruise to keep on top of this. You might get a nasty surprise. The thoroughness of CRT’s inspection regime is an area of increasing concern.
Press Releases There is a growing trend of a mismatch between CRT’s press releases and reality. From a boating perspective, an example was the announcement of the planned towpath improvements on the Rochdale, which coincided with two boaters stuck on the same canal and having to retreat as CRT was unable to provide water for passage due to the leaking gates.
CRT Quiz. If you are really bored have a look at this. https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/news-and-views/features/locks-docks-and-boat-lifts-quiz
Some of the answers are a bit strange. Any comments please, not to us but on a post card to ‘CRT Head of Wellbeing’, at the shallowest lock on the system, or in a 40ft boat up the Caldon!
Beale Park. The popular Thames visitor moorings at Beale Park have been withdrawn and now the whole stretch is covered with no mooring signs. A spokesperson said they have had serious problems there this summer with so many people around, with rubbish, including excrement, discarded towels, rubbish bags and fires. They don’t have a full complement of staff after lockdown and have been really struggling to deal with it. They have also had problems with the access road down to the river being blocked for residents, due to double-parking and have had to call the police out on one occasion. In the end they concluded, reluctantly, that they had little option but to close the moorings at least for the rest of this season. They intend to review the position next year with a possible working party of interested users to see how best to manage the site.
Mon and Brec. Mike Rodd reports that at last the Mon & Brec reopened to boats in mid-August - access having been restricted by the Welsh Assembly ruling of no journey longer than 5 miles! Little winter work had been done and so it was very overgrown, but every boat possible was out - with all hire and day boats doing excellent business, at last!
Red Diesel: In case you haven’t seen it, the Government has launched a consultation on the proposed implementation on the ‘Reforms to the tax treatment of red diesel and other rebated fuels’ for many (including pleasure craft).
See the consultation document here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/899174/Consultation_on_reforms_to_the_tax_treatment_of_red_diesel_and_other_rebated_fuels.pdf Section 5.30 – 5.45 covers private pleasure craft and includes eleven question (Q12-22) in this section. The consultation closes on 1st October 2020 (not the 20th as we said last month). It is not clear to us where hire-boats fit into this. The document does not specify. We think they are they classed as ‘private leisure craft’ and not ‘commercial’. Perhaps you know better? We are still of the view that UK should ignore the EU ruling and retain the use of red diesel on inland waters. More in the next NN.
Boat Safety Technical Committee. Mike Rodd and David Fletcher attended a TC meeting via Zoom in August. The only subject was the revised procedures for gas testing. The main change is that the requirements for bubble testing are relaxed for the current Aldi units to a more exact equivalent of the manometer test. It has been known for some time that a boat could fail an examination with the bubble tester, but then pass a retest with a manometer. Boaters have nothing to fear from these changes which will come into force as examiners are trained. More details will appear in the next NN.
Boat Safety Scheme extensions. The suspension of BSS examinations up to end of July has not been further extended in most circumstances. Guidance for boat owners on preparing boats for examination in the time of COVID-19 has been published here: BSS Examination Preparation Linked to Covid-19 protocols. It is now expected that, if your BSS is due or overdue, you will get this organised in most circumstances. We have heard that examiners are getting through the backlog, and no members have reported to us that they cannot get a date. The fact remains that there are many thousands of boats with expired certificates.
Winter stoppages. The CRT consultation on the programme for this winter is now complete and the final list is here: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/report/winter-notices.pdf. Our thanks to Phil Goulding who has taken part in all the meetings for us.
Navigation Advisory Group. David Fletcher will attend a vegetation inspection on the North T and M in September. Local reports indicate that this is a good candidate! There is also a full meeting of the group in September by Zoom. There is plenty to talk about.
Geoffrey Rogerson NABO is deeply saddened by the loss of its long-term legal advisor and council member, Geoffrey Rogerson, who passed away on the 3rd August 2020 after several years of illnesses. Known by all who met him, as a gentle gentleman, with great pride in his own family, and respected by all. But despite his seeming mildness, he was always direct, honest and when necessary, outspoken. With his deep practical knowledge of matters-legal, Geoffrey made a huge contribution to NABO, leading all aspects of its legal work, closely supported when necessary by the Council's solicitors. A long-term canal (and whiskey!) fanatic, his boat on the K&A was one of the very first to travel up the then restored Caen Hill flight. And for many years he lived on his boat on the K&A as an active, rule-abiding continuous cruiser, setting a very clear example to all. And this always ensured that he could provide NABO's Council with the best possible guidance on mooring matters. Geoffrey seldom missed a NABO Council meeting, always accompanied by his partner, Belinda.
The next NABO Council will be a teleconference on Saturday 5th September at 10.15. Members are very welcome to take part. Please let us know so that we can make arrangements.
The next edition of NABO News will be prepared after the September meeting. Please get your items and lockdown stories in to the editor.
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