Leisure boating is down as living on board rises
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.