Leisure boat­ing is down as liv­ing on board rises

Canal Boat - - News -

VERY NEARLY HALF of all the boat own­ers on the Canal & River Trust’s wa­ter­ways now use them for res­i­den­tial pur­poses of some kind – and in Lon­don, that rises to three-quar­ters.

This is one of the find­ings of a boater sur­vey which has also shown that younger boaters are more crit­i­cal of CRT, and that over­all sat­is­fac­tion with the wa­ter­ways has risen but a quar­ter of boaters still give it a less than five out of ten rat­ing.

The sur­vey re­sponses have been com­pared to ear­lier stud­ies in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2014 – and one key change in re­cent years is that com­pared to 64 per­cent in 2009, just 50 per­cent of boaters now use the canals for leisure cruis­ing (with the re­main­der di­vided be­tween full-time liv­ing afloat, sec­ond homes for ex­tended liv­ing, hol­i­day homes, and tem­po­rary homes for work­ing). And over three times as many un­der-45s as 45-and-overs have their boat as their per­ma­nent home.

Boaters’ opin­ions of it have be­come more po­larised – 54 per­cent now view CRT favourably, and 19 per­cent un­favourably, with the ‘neu­trals’ drop­ping each year. Those with home moor­ings, those aged over 55, males and leisure boaters are much less crit­i­cal than con­tin­u­ous cruis­ers, live­aboards, women and un­der-45s.

More peo­ple trust CRT to look af­ter the wa­ter­ways than two years ago, and more be­lieve it pri­ori­tises its spend­ing well (al­beit from a low start), and over­all sat­is­fac­tion with the wa­ter­ways ex­pe­ri­ence is up. Boaters in Lon­don and the North East are the least sat­is­fied, while those from North Wales and the Bor­ders are hap­pi­est, fol­lowed by the Mid­lands.

Lack of main­te­nance (dredg­ing, veg­e­ta­tion and tow­paths) is cited by al­most half of those crit­i­cal of up­keep. And ‘deal­ing with non-com­pli­ant boaters’ is seen as some­thing CRT is worst at – although the sur­vey doesn’t dis­tin­guish whether they think CRT is too le­nient or too heavy-handed.

Fi­nally, a sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity have a prob­lem find­ing moor­ings, es­pe­cially in Lon­don. Matthew Sy­monds, CRT’s Boat­ing Strat­egy & En­gage­ment Man­ager, said: “Boaters and boat­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions have told us that they are put off vis­it­ing Lon­don be­cause they don’t think they will be able to find any­where to moor.”

This has led to a sep­a­rate sur­vey cur­rently un­der way to help gauge de­mand for pre-book­able, short-stay moor­ings in the cap­i­tal. To take part in the online sur­vey, go to sur­vey­mon­key.co.uk/r/Lon­don­book­able­moor­ing­sur­vey.

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