Editor, Peter Fellows, reflects on the effects of the lockdown.

As this issue of NABO News was being prepared, CRT and the EA announced the resumption of boating on July 4th in England and July 6th in Wales. No-one believes that everything will go back to ‘normal’, but it is too early to tell what lasting damage has been done to waterways businesses and the services that they offer boaters. David Fletcher has recorded the timeline of events as the pandemic developed from February to June and some of the effects it has had on the waterways. Despite the end of the lockdown, it is clear that coronavirus hasn’t gone away and there are currently around 1,000 new infections every day. I’ve not seen any figures on the number of boat owners who have been infected, but a sensible assumption is that some infected but asymptomatic boaters will take to the water again in July. Although boating is relatively safe, everyone needs to be careful to wash their hands and disinfect surfaces after using service facilities, locks etc. This is likely to continue until an effective vaccine becomes available.

Editor, Peter Fellows, has news of other developments, even though little is happening on the waterways.

The ramifications of the Coronavirus lockdown have dominated the waterway news for nearly eight weeks at the time of writing and these are widely reflected in this issue. CRT’s decision not to close towpaths to visitors initially caused an intensely negative response on social media by some liveaboard boaters. NABO’s support for CRT’s decision is explained by Mike Rodd in his Chair’s column. NABO also welcomes CRT’s support: for high-risk liveaboard boaters who are self-isolating; for the extra month’s licence offered to all leisure boaters; and its support for trade and hire-boat businesses, each reported upon in this issue. In his regional rep’s report, Ken Hylins, who is self-isolating on his boat, describes the assistance he is being offered by CRT volunteers and local residents. However, many small waterway businesses do not qualify for the Government assistance on offer and there is a request for members to contact their MPs to rectify this with additional financial support measures. If nothing is done, there is a real risk that many boatyards, marinas, chandleries and hire companies will go out of business.

Editor, Peter Fellows, has a wide range of news in these uncertain times.

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 is foremost in most people’s minds and this is reflected in this issue. Mike Rodd has been attending EA and Thames User Group meetings on behalf of NABO. This is in addition to his many other jobs as Chair (such as responding to the Bridgewater tidal barrier consultation) and reporting as the Regional Rep for Wales and the South-West, both included in this issue. If one or more members in the general Thames catchment area would be willing to share the workload, it would greatly help Mike.

Treasurer, Helen Hutt was elected to CRT’s Council and another boating rep, Dave Mendes de Costa has sent NABO News a report on their first meeting with CRT’s National Boating Manager. Elsewhere, David Fletcher considers what might happen to red diesel, following an announcement in last month’s budget. He also reviews the recently published reports on the Toddbrook Reservoir near-disaster. Ken Hylins reflects on his first couple of years on NABO Council, with a plea for more involvement in council work by members. Mark Tizard gives CRT a pat on the back for dealing with all the damage and fallen trees, caused by this winter’s storms and floods. And finally, Tony Brooks casts a balanced eye over the suitability of lithium batteries in Techie’s Corner.

With the uncertainty around the effects of Coronavirus, boating could reasonably be said to be one of the safer places to be, so enjoy the better weather and keep well.

Gently down the stream

Editor Peter Fellows sees rivers featuring prominently in this issue.

Since the last issue, NABO Council members have had a series of meetings with senior CRT staff and it is refreshing to note that the dialogue has improved since 12 months ago when, as Mike Rodd says in his Chair’s column: “we felt that CRT was deliberately ignoring us!” This is good news because, as Mike and Mark Tizard report, CRT (and for that matter, the EA) needs boaters to get behind it for the forthcoming negotiations over renewal of its government grant in a few years’ time.

Editor, Peter Fellows has a plea for members to help the association operate effectively.

As 2019 fades into winter with deluges raising river levels across the country, NABO says farewell to Chair, Stella Ridgway and East Midlands Rep., Joan Jamieson, who we thank for all their work over the years. I have also said goodbye to NABO News proof-readers, John and Marion Pearse and Janice Steckerl, who I thank for all their help in correcting my wayward grammar. If you are able to spend a couple of hours, three times per year, proofreading an issue of the magazine in the comfort of your favourite armchair, please get in touch.

Reading Howard Anguish’s Rewind from 15 years ago, support for NABO Council by members was an issue then – and it still is. The Council needs more support for its work in 2020, outlined by Mark Tizard and Mike Rodd as they look at what is likely to arise next year, especially with CRT and the EA. As you will see from the new list of councillors on page 2, many have multiple roles and need help to share the workload. There are also four vacancies for regional reps., to keep an eye on what’s happening in a particular waterway area. The role involves attending local forums and letting the Council know when something important is happening. Again, please consider helping.