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


If only the trust would listen

If only the trust would listen

Stella Ridgeway responds to the letter to boaters from Richard Parry

Why is it boaters feel so disenfranchised by CRT? Why is it that CRT staff, who are paid to enrol people on the towpath as Friends, now don’t bother to approach boaters? The constant PR push over the last couple of years celebrates initiatives that rarely involve boats. Instead, walkers, cyclists, anglers and canoeists are targeted and welcomed in increasing numbers - come in, it’s a free resource. The latest rebranding only cost £60k, honestly! New expensive signs have sprung up, seemingly overnight, alongside the canals and are directed at those who already know where the canal is – not the 7 million who supposedly don’t.  Millions spent on new cycle routes, walkways, canoe routes ‒ yes it’s grant funded, but where are the grants to repair the listed locks and bridges?

In the Chair Winter 17

Stella Ridgway gets ready for winter

As another year ends and Christmas approaches, the summer boaters are busy winterising their boats, liveaboards are eyeing places to get free wood and ensuring that they have organised a coal delivery from their local coal-boat. We are lucky to have fortnightly coal-boat runs; please support your coal-boats – they are the lifeblood of the canals in winter.

The winter mooring season has begun and those who don’t have a home mooring can take advantage of these, although I have to say I haven’t noticed a big uptake in our area. Where they do seem popular, I notice they are priced accordingly.

My treatment has prevented me from travelling too much and I must arrange things around it. We are still trying to get a haemodialysis machine on our boat; we seem to be caught up in the inevitable red tape that surrounds such things, but we are still hoping to get there.

In the Chair Oct 17

Getting to know you

Stella Ridgway is concerned about the disconnect between boaters and local communities.

In the July issue, I expressed a desire that the sun we had in June would be extended, but we have had one of the worst Augusts on record for cloud, rain and cold weather. We have had our stove lit and we are still awaiting the chance of an Indian summer up here. I have been envious of those able to travel, as there seems to have been plenty of sunshine elsewhere. It’s been so bad that we have had to run the engine instead of using our solar panel to charge the batteries sufficiently.

In the Chair July 2017

In the Chair

Stella Ridgway is enjoying the summer


I hope you have all been enjoying the lovely weather; we got some painting done, although the disadvantage was that the paint was drying as we put it on. I do hope that wasn’t all of our summer ‒ we so deserve a decent summer in the north. My Mum is over from New Zealand at present; she grew up in Middlewich but as we cruised a little, she was amazed at the number and variety of boats on the Peak Forest Canal (I might be biased, but it is a very pretty canal with breathtaking views across the Peak District on the summit pound).

First, apologies for the short article; hospital visits have curtailed my ability to attend some meetings, but NABO has had representation at most user groups and, of course, the national consultation groups. CRT has an emphasis on the licensing review and the London mooring strategy, which does not seem to be addressing the issue of the extra boats moving to London each year. NABO was disappointed to see that the licensing review is not even finished but CRT has introduced a new licence for rented boats. This would not appear to address the issue, as it requires boats to have a residential mooring and doesn’t address landlords who rent out a boat without a home mooring, or the ones who ask tenants to buy a 1% share in a boat to circumvent the hire rule. I attended a meeting with CRT where we discussed the ongoing licensing review. There will be a further opportunity to give our views to CRT as we were informed that all boaters would be contacted. NABO will be represented in a further meeting in late July, so do contact me if you have views on this.

Also on the agenda was vegetation and dredging. CRT has now taken this into a national programme to ensure continuity. They are relying on boaters reporting things that are, and aren’t, working, so I would encourage everyone to phone/tweet Customer Services if you see anything wrong. We are the ones out on the system and they rely on us.

The EA/CRT merger was put on hold during the election and still no word on how the new Secretary of State, Michael Gove, will view it. I don’t expect any results in the short term, however, due to the slim majority. I am sure there will be some fed-up faces in both organisations, but it would appear that this may be more of a political football and it has been kicked into the long grass for the while.

Equality provision is something we also discussed: Sean Williams explained that they are getting referrals from both the Customer Services and Licensing Teams. I cannot emphasise enough the need to let Customer Services know if you require help; they can then contact your local Customer Service and Support Officer (i.e. Enforcement), plus, it is a record that you have contacted them. The Trust often engage local and national agencies to assist boaters in difficulty, but the emphasis is on you to contact them if you are having difficulties so that they can assist.

During this busy cruising time, we rely on our members to let CRT (and us) know if you see unpowered craft in locks. CRT has posted its guidelines again, advising that people should not be in unpowered craft in locks when they are filling or emptying. This follows a few incidents recently, after which NABO highlighted the safety aspects, particularly if children are present.

Finally; I do hope you enjoy the summer cruising and that you have a good summer. Our next Council meeting is in September and all are welcome to attend.

In the Chair, June 2017

In the Chair

Don’t rush - explore the places where you moor

NABO Chair, Stella Ridgway says make the most of your overnight stays

This is a shortened column this month and I have not been able to attend many meetings, so others have stepped into my place. We are still well-represented within CRT and I am due in Birmingham next month for a meeting with the Trust. I will let you know the outcomes in due course. If you have any issues you would like me to raise, please let me know.

My illness means that we cannot cruise as we would like, but the compensation is that we are moored on, in my opinion, one of the prettiest canals in England on the edge of the Peak District. The Cheshire Ring is closed at present, with the Bridgewater Canal being out of action until May. This means that we had the first flurry of hire-boats and summer cruisers going past us over the last month, with the school holidays and longer days. However, it amazes me that we see them go up towards Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Basin and come back about three hours later – enough time to wind. It is such a shame that boaters don’t factor in at least one or even two nights in this amazing place. It is Britain’s largest inland port, recovered by volunteers for use by boaters; I think they miss its fascinating history. So my advice to everyone is to plan overnight stays in different places. Manchester, for instance, is a brilliant place and, if you stop in Castlefield Basin, it is only a short walk to the Roman Fort and to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, which offer a fascinating glance into Manchester’s past and to the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. So my advice is to plan your cruising with lengthened stays, and if you come to Manchester, I can recommend the afternoon teas at various places, although ‘Cloud 23’ edges it for the fantastic views of Manchester and its surrounds.

The Bridgewater Canal was built to bring coal into Manchester, halving the price of coal and enabling the huge mills to process the cotton, wool and other raw materials. The canals enabled all that in their day and they now provide a green corridor and a sense of wellbeing to all those who use them. So I urge everyone to take the time to explore the area around where you moor, and especially those canals that run through cities, as it offers a chance to step back in time and imagine the noise, the boats, the horses, and the blacksmiths and other trades that relied (and still do rely) on canals for a living.

The nights are lighter and it isn’t dark until 9.30pm up here. Although we have had some bright days, the ever-present icy wind is still with us, making boating a lovely experience. I travelled by train down to the Council meeting, and I love to see how the railways followed the canals, knowing it was the canals that enabled those railways to be built. We use these same canals today predominantly for pleasure rather than trading, although trade is increasing as companies discover that having goods travel by boat saves warehouse space.