Well it’s all very interesting isn’t it? This business of CRT issuing short term licences to naughty “Continuous cruisers” who haven’t engaged “In a continuous journey in one direction of more than twenty miles.” Let’s ignore the fact that I am not a continuous cruiser and have just completed a leisurely three week journey of 109 miles , and explore what I have learned from meeting other boaters as we tootled up the GU.
CRT’s measures seem to be working, up to a point. We met a fair few boaters who were indeed moving more that they used to because they had been given six months to do it or be refused a licence after that. One, I thought was meeting CRT’s requirements adequately enough. he moved every fourteen days and plied a patch between Uxbridge and Cowroast. That’s 23 miles. He was so anxious to be seen to comply that his boat bore a sign requesting CRT spotters to sign a logbook in his top box every time they logged him.
Another fellow we met wasn’t so good. Although anxious to qualify for his next licence, he didn’t seem to want to co-operate with the spirit of the rule, which is to not hog a particular mooring constantly. As he saw it, all he needed to do was to be seen in two places twenty miles apart during his six months. The rest of the time (probably 25 weeks) he would spend in a much closer area. What he was doing when we met him was travelling up to the lock by the Grove pub, just below Leighton Buzzard, photographing his boat to show where he had reached, and immediately returning to his “home” patch. He didn’t even stop his engine, he just turned round, stepped off his boat to take a picture, and set off back down the canal. I sincerely hope that CRT doesn’t allow this sort of thing, or it would make a mockery of the whole approach.
I feel sorry for CRT, ‘cos people are clever enough to outwit them a lot of the time by interpreting the detail of the rules but ignoring the spirit of them. I also feel sorry for a significant number of boaters who have told me that they are reluctant or afraid to take their boat into central London for fear of not finding a place to stop. It could well get worse before it gets better as more and more people try to establish a liveaboard spot in London. I notice too, that the demographic is beginning to change. A new, more affluent class of boater is joining the throng, and evidenced by the increasing number of new widebeam boats heading for the capital. Someone told me, probably apocryphally, that three new widebeams a week were being dropped (well lowered I suppose) in the canal at Cassiobury.
I have an idea.
Given the very large number of boaters resident on London’s canals, even if they comply with CRT’s rules on moving, the congestion is unlikely to decrease for some time and visitors from outside are going to have a problem finding places to stop. It is well known that boaters within the city do late night swaps of paces on visitor moorings to keep their place. I have witnessed it myself.
One answer could be to register boaters within the capital as “London Boaters” with a separate London licence (no extra charge to the boater). This licence which would have to be displayed, might for instance have a large L on it or be a different colour – whatever, so long as it could easily be identified. I would then propose that CRT nominate a number of Visitor Moorings available only to non-London boaters e.g. Paddington basin, a couple of spots near Camden market, A few spots at Victoria Park and so –on. This would enable boaters from further afield to either visit or pass through London with some assurance that they could get the visitor moorings they are entitled to.
What do you think?