Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Up in arms up the Arm

Those of us with boats up the Slough Arm are not happy bunnies at the moment. Our moorings continue to be lovely, but anyone wishing to move their boat is having a really hard time because of the blanket weed.

Although still relatively early in the weed season, the section of the canal by our boats is already getting choked with the stuff. On Sunday evening we made the mistake of heading down the arm (or is it up?) to turn the boat at the winding hole less than a mile away and the trip took us two hours and a few trips into the weedhatch. And we got off lightly. Some others failed to get through and had to haul their boats back to their berth.

People are writing to BW to get something done, which they should as BW has a statutory duty to maintain the navigability of the canal However I suspect that their isn't really much they can do as the weed grows back very quickly if cut.

The real solution is to eliminate whatever it is that feeds the weed, for it only grows this thickly alongside the boats and it's probably something to do with the washing up and bath water that the boats discharge into the canal. I read somewhere that a lot of detergents contain phosphates which is good plant food. We need to find products that don't do this, probably quite possible, and then persuade everyone to use them, probably much harder!

In the meantime our future trips out will start with us reversing up to the slipway 50 yards away and turning there - a difficult manoeuvre with all the boats littered around but far preferable to what we did on Sunday.

Today we head off by road to Cambridge and Huntingdon for two days, ostensibly to visit our sons, but I confess that the Cambridge beer festival might have something to do with the choice of date :-)


Simon said...

already? I guess the warm weather sets it off, the water in canals does get surprisingly warmer than I'd thought.

I'm afraid the weed was a contributory reason to my summer of bumbling, not bothering to come back after Little Venice; I generally find it's better beyond the bridges at each end of the mooring, but even so, I sympathise.

James said...

You need to club together and buy a horse, or perhaps a small tractor, to tow boats from the towpath. :p

Simon said...

how about borrowing one of the donkeys from the scrubland opposite? ;-)

MoominPapa said...

At least you could still bow haul the boats. Here in the Fens the blanket weed falls to the bottom when it dies off, and lurks in thick mats to catch the unwary. If the water level is low and the skeg tangles it, you can end up trying to pull the weed from the whole of the bottom for tens of yards in each direction as well as the boat.

Last autumn we did this, out towards Holme Fen, and only escaped after being towed by a 4x4 running along the top of the dyke.


Neil Corbett said...


Vallypee said...

Interesting that the weed thrives on what is supposed to be bad for the enviornment!