Canal Boat - - This Month -

Greas­ing the way; fees and re­stric­tions; his­toric main­te­nance; what a glo­ri­ous day!

WE RE­CENTLY TOOK our boat out for a couple of days, a first for quite a few years, and sadly we were not im­pressed with the con­di­tions on our canal sys­tem (Shrop­pie, Staffs & Worcs and Trent & Mersey).

There was lit­tle ev­i­dence of main­te­nance; there were large sec­tions where reeds had re­duced the canal to a sin­gle boat width, fallen trees and trees over­hang­ing, litter (bot­tles and other care­less throw-away items float­ing on the wa­ter... though this is the fault of the users and not the Canal & River Trust), but worst of all was the lack of greas­ing of the pad­dle gear.

We heard en route that they are no longer greased but oiled. If this is the case then it has to be false econ­omy. Oil will only last a few days be­fore be­com­ing non-ex­is­tent and in­ef­fec­tive; it not only re­sults in their seiz­ing and ero­sion, but also makes life very dif­fi­cult for boaters try­ing to op­er­ate them.

Even­tu­ally, it will no longer be a plea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence us­ing the canals and peo­ple will vote with their feet and this rich re­source could well fall into de­cay once more, please don’t al­low this to hap­pen!

TERRY DAVIES, via email

Ian Rogers, CRT Head of Cus­tomer Ser­vices, replies: “I’m sorry to hear about Mr Davies’ dis­ap­point­ing re­cent cruise. “Keep­ing the wa­ter­ways run­ning is an end­less task and, un­for­tu­nately, we have to pri­ori­tise work and just aren’t able to do it all. We are, how­ever, plan­ning on do­ing some dredg­ing on the Stafford­shire & Worces­ter­shire Canal soon and that should ad­dress the is­sue of weeds.

“In terms of pad­dle gear, dif­fer­ent wa­ter­ways take dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. On the Trent & Mersey, in par­tic­u­lar, some boaters have com­plained about grease at­tract­ing dirt which ends up clog­ging the gears so we’re tri­alling us­ing oil – we would wel­come feed­back from boaters on this so do please tell us about your ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Typ­i­cal pad­dle gear on the Trent & Mersey

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