Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Complying with CRT by fair means or foul – and a local solution??

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?


Anonymous said...

It's a great idea. But if people would live by the existing rules, there'd be no need to change and introduce new rules for these same people to ignore.
I certainly believe the Rembrandt Gardens 'bookable moorings' should be extended into Paddington basin.
I for one would be happy to pay an additional charge for the peace of mind of knowing a mooring awaits.
I had to wait to buy my boat until work and family commitments, and my finances, permitted me to do so.
It irks now to be told by some, that I'm elitist and against working families living onboard in London.
nb Paneke

Neil Corbett said...

Quite! Although I think as a matter of principle we shouldn't have to pay for a mooring in London - we already do that through our licence and we could argue that it is denied us.


Vallypee said...

This seems to be a very emotive issue, Neil. I've read articles complaining about this restricted licence ruling and it seems there are not enough residential or longer term moorings anywhere. Maybe that's also something to be considered with more people moving onto boats because of housing costs. It's certainly a difficult situation from everyone's perspective. I feel sorry for all concerned in trying to make it fair to all boaters.

Andrew Tidy said...

I have to admit that I am put off visiting London for fear of not finding any moorings - which is mad given the limited number of travelling boats in the area! The maths scare me : 5 years ago there were 2500 CC's with no mooring in the area and now there are 5000 - thats one in six boats on the whole system. The move to widebeams makes it even worse with their larger footprint. If CRT leave things as they are then in a decade we will be looking at over 10,000 boats loitering in the region. If we want to park literally thousands of boats in london as cheap housing then why not fill up the docks out by the Excel - except the smoke and lights would interfere with City Airport I guess. Amsterdam seem to manage their canals well - which also includes houseboats. I appreciate that this is a tricky problem but either we let the capitals canals just be one huge unregulated boat park from bank to bank or we enforce the rules and accept that if you choose a floating lifestyle you have to move significant distances. If thats incompatible with jobs or schools then a boat isnt for you. You cant expect CRT to tolerate a floating city within London all for the princely sum of £700 a year!

Vallypee said...

I do indeed see the point, Neil. Yes, Amsterdam and most of the cities here manage it quite well, but then living on the water is not seen as a cheap alternative here. It's a way of life choice. I suspect London's real problem is the absurd price of flats, both rented and bought. I spoke to some people living on private Thames moorings (The Hermitage) at Wapping, and they told me their local school cannot get teachers because they can't afford to live within a reasonable distance of their work. A one bedroomed flat in Wapping that we saw was nearly a million pounds, and it didn't look anything terribly fancy! How can even normal professional people pay that? Unreal! Someone else told us that the amount of social housing being built was also much less, so London is the place to work but there's nowhere affordable to live, hence the move to the water. The CRT is thus having to deal with London's housing problems. They could always fill Shadwell Basin with boats, but then make maintenace rules. Thou shalt keep thy boat in good condition, or else :)

Oakie said...

Sounds like a problem for the new London mayor, being a new broom so to speak. Got any ideas MrKhan? All that unused waterspace in the docks sounds like a good idea, but I bet the locals would put up a fight.