The good and bad of boating
WE’VE JUST RETURNED from our latest canal adventure, the eighth accomplished in as many years. This time it was two weeks exploring the delights of the Four Counties Ring out and back from Anderton Marina.
In those eight years we (that’s me, my wife and friend) have engaged with the Oxford, Grand Union, Warwickshire Ring, Cheshire Ring, Stourport Ring, the Llangollen including a wonderful trip down the Montgomery, down the Stratford to Wootton Wawen; out and back from Anderton to Chester; and one misguided year on the Caledonian.
This year the weather was blighted by persistent wind which frequently tried to exercise authority over our 66-footer. Nevertheless we were not denied the charm of the countryside with so many villages and towns to explore and relieve of local delicacies and, of course, not forgetting the friendliness of towpath and lock-side encounters.
Over the past eight years we have noticed obvious changes. Clearly there is an increase in traffic; there are more boaters moored and more on the move. Also, under the stewardship of the Canal & River Trust, the infrastructure of the canals seems to be moving forward with both optimism and purpose.
However, we do have three gripes. We don’t own a boat – we are hirers, that oft despised order of boaters by the fraternity of boat owners, particularly the liveaboards.
Yes, we acknowledge that we did witness some hairy navigating by holiday hirers but, once again, we met some indifferent and arrogant actions by boat owners.
Top of our gripes are those who don’t slow down sufficiently when passing moored craft or when negotiating hazards. The second, those who moor inconsiderately, particularly next to bridges on tight corners, but worse, mooring next to locks. Finally, mooring at water points, completely impeding access (see photo).
Canal life reflects all aspects of society, the good and the bad.