This is where we publish our boat related stories and articles, which range from world circumnavigation to rescue missions, humour and much, much more. So make yourself a coffee and settle yourself down to a good read.
If you’re considering living aboard you may enjoy this series of blog posts about living on a boat. Whilst they were written with canal boats and narrowboats in mind, a lot of the information will be helpful to anyone considering living aboard. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for more tips and information about living on a boat.
What's happening on the English canals and rivers at the moment? There were grim findings in the Regents Canal in London last week. We've also had water shortages and CRT council elections argy bargy so I thought I'd write a cheerful story for the blog. As Spring approaches, here are some watery ways to have fun with the kids.
My winter mooring this year is very close to the Tring Reservoirs, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an incredibly beautiful area for boating, walking, angling and cycling. It’s also a major feature of the southern Grand Union Canal, and therefore covered by our narrowboat brokerage. We have a selection of narrowboats for sale on the Grand Union and work closely with Cowroast Marina, among others. However, the water levels across the Tring summit are currently being kept at a lower operating level than usual to allow seepage losses to be minimised. The ground in the Tring cutting has always been wet, and so was not sealed when the canal was first built. The recent dry spell allowed the ground to dry out, the water table dropped and so the canal water began to leak out. The Friends of Tring Reservoirs website reported that an “emergency fish rescue operation took place over the weekend from Friday 20th January in the 'Reservoir Pound' locks 39-40, following a larger than expected fall in water levels in the canal.” Following recent consultations with local boating and trade representatives British Waterways have now reviewed the existing restrictions currently in place on the Tring summit. The navigation between Lock 46 (Cowroast) and Lock 39 (Startops) is to remain closed until Monday 26th March to allow the local reservoir levels to recover before the main boating season. But from Monday 26th March the navigation will be reopened, although only between 10.00am and 3.00pm. BW reports that navigation down the centre of the canal will then be possible for normally draughted boats. There will also be two specific opening periods to enable boats to cross the summit during restricted hours on specified days during March. The major reason for these openings in March is to get boats to Cowroast and Bulbourne for the two boatyards on the summit, and for us to get boats that we have sold to the right side of the summit for their new owners. There was a proposal at the last meeting with BW that the locks would also close for an hour at lunch to allow enough to gather to run pairs up and down the locks alternately and thus use the water efficiently. The Aylesbury arm remains closed for dredging but will be opened about one weekend per month to allow locally based boats to move around on the arm. Boatshed Grand Union are holding regular meetings with BW to review the situation We hope that these restrictions will conserve the water in these stunning reservoirs so that we can continue with our used narrowboat sales and enjoy canal boat cruising in the Spring and Summer this year. You may also like Phil’s previous article on theTring Summit Closure
There are almost 35,000 canal boats on Britain’s inland waterways*, but it’s quite difficult to estimate how many of those are floating homes. I was recently interviewed by a journalist who seemed to want to find out what ‘type’ of people are living within the boating community. The truth is that we are just as diverse as the community living ashore. Live-aboard boaters include middle-aged divorcees, retired couples, young professionals, people on low incomes, people ‘down on their luck’ and canal heritage enthusiasts. It can include people seeking an alternative lifestyle, or people seeking a cheaper lifestyle. Some boaters are foreign tourists discovering England and some people are able to choose a nomadic lifestyle because they work from home.
Following my earlier blog about How to Sell a Boat on the Inland Waterways I thought I’d share a bit more about who we are at Boatshed Grand Union.
So, voting has now opened for boat owners to elect four boaters to represent licence holders on the Canal and River Trust’s National Council. The council will consist of 35 members but only four of these will be boaters! Voting is open until noon on 9th March and ballot packs are currently being sent out to voters. However, BW does not consider Boatshed Grand Union brokerage to be a waterways business; they simply consider a waterways business to be a company that has a British Waterways trading licence; so we will not be eligible to vote.
I recently wrote about #BoatsThatTweet, but you will find that a lot of canal and narrowboaters who tweet, are also boats that blog. Many narrowboat blogs are cruising logs, and while some are a written diary, others are more focussed on keeping a photographic record of their journey.
As usual, Boatshed Grand Union will be attending as many festivals this year as possible. We will be showing our ever-growing list of Narrowboats for sale at many of them. (Those in bold)
In 2012, British Waterways’ canals and rivers in England and Wales will be transferred to the care of a new waterways charity, called the Canal & River Trust.
I have heard many figures quoted for the number of miles of navigable waterways in the UK: It is certainly several thousand. How do you find your way around such an extensive network?
Yes, I too was one of those people who asked, “What is the point of Twitter?” I had already wasted hours on Facebook keeping in touch with my friends’ status updates, and I didn’t need a whole other social world on line to mysteriously suck away my time and energy. But as I got more into blogging and ‘met’ other bloggers on line I kept hearing that tweeting was the thing to do.
At a time when some businesses are struggling, our biggest problem at Boatshed Grand Union is that we seem to be selling too many boats – we have several under offer at the moment and are ready to take on more boats for brokerage. To meet the demand of our large and expanding database of 240,000 registered customers we need more canal and narrowboats to sell. Sell My Boat
British Waterways are about to close the Tring Summit from Lock 39 Startops to 49 Northchurch. This area is not river fed and is suffering from the worst water shortage in many years.
On Valentine’s day last year my husband and I were in a pub talking about getting a bigger boat. I said that my perfect boat would be a 70 foot narrowboat, green, with side hatches and a ‘boatman’s cabin’. I’ve always fancied having the living room at the front of the boat with glass doors to the front deck so that you can look out at the glistening water up ahead.
During the Industrial Revolution as the Irish navigators or “navvies” continued to build the waterways network, steerers were needed for the boats and lock keepers were required for a variety of maintenance tasks.
Why not take a canal boat down the Thames and get a fantastic view of the New Year’s Eve fireworks on the London Eye? Sadly, bravely cruising into the night without a place to moor is not as safe as it sounds. Moorings are usually passenger piers or pontoons dedicated to authorised cruises, and I’m of the belief that taking a small boat on the Thames is something that requires a little planning and plenty of daylight!
About once a month I take our boat to a marina to top up on diesel and empty the toilet. For her own safety my toddler daughter is sat on the hatch cover and secured to the roof with a safety harness while we cruise. As we pass under a bridge we see the first of the moored boats that line the waterway up to Cowroast lock and I steer towards the bank. Two gentlemen in matching black jackets are on the towpath smiling at the sight of my daughter on the roof. As we approach I can see that they want to help me moor up so I throw them a rope. One of them is carrying a windlass and their jackets are labelled, 'Waterways Chaplain.' I've lived on the Cut for eleven years and I've never heard of a Waterways Chaplain! These jolly gentlemen are from the Salvation Army and roam the towpath helping people in whatever way they can. “There are people with problems on the canal; drugs and alcohol. We can provide a listening ear or help with practical things like access to healthcare.” One holds the mid-rope, another helps me to bash a peg in to the ground. The waterways ministry was stopped in the 1960s but is being revived as part of a Workplace Ministries project in the Diocese of St Albans. They offer pastoral and practical support for live-aboard boaters in need, providing food, clothing, water, benefits advice or just a listening ear. They have even been known to provide water when taps are frozen in winter, a new chimney, a new battery or comfort to a lonely live-aboard widow. The Salvation Army waterways ministry first began in 1908 around Fenny Stratford, praying with and talking to working boatmen and their families in their narrow boat cabins. In 2012 more volunteers will be needed as they ultimately aim to cover the Grand Union from Braunston down to Rickmansworth and also the rivers Lee and the Stort.
Ah Christmas time. Time to winterise your canal boat and lock yourself safely into a warm house. Or is it? There are lots of festive events planned on the waterways this December.
New website backs Government’s encouragement for living on boats THE world’s number one online yacht brokerage system is about to launch a brand new website which could boost the government’s campaign to have more people living on the water.
How does the old song go? You say potato, I say tomato? A narrow boat was traditionally a cargo carrying boat found on the British inland waterways from the 18th century onwards. On the UK navigable waterways locks and bridge holes are a minimum of 7 feet wide. The phrase “narrow boat” often refers to the original style of working canal boat, or a modern replica of this type of boat. The first narrow boats were horse drawn wooden boats. Today on the canal there are many replicas of the traditional type of boats, painted with ornate designs of roses and castles. Some enthusiasts are dedicated to restoring the remaining original boats and The Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club was formed in 1966. It is a not-for-profit club dedicated to preserving the working heritage of the canals.