A lot is said about speeding boats. Indeed I mention it often here. A lot of what is said is bollox concentrating on the effect ‘of rocking a few moored boats’ only and totally missing the damage and injury that can be caused inside a boat, but more important the destruction of our canal and wild life.
Operating a boat within the published guidelines it would seem is very difficult, because so few try doing it, yet the canals we purport to love will last longer if we all took greater care.
Yes a speeding boat rocks other boats, but it also erodes the bank and kills wildlife. If I see you speed on the canal please don't ever tell me in a later conversation that you are a vegetarian.
This is a dead Rudd it is a very pretty fish not unlike the Roach in its colouring but the scales are coarser. Along its back you can se the reason it is dead. A large cut, probably made by a propeller, runs best part of half the length of its body. Now you may think that fish are able to swim away from such a dangerous thing as a propeller and I would tend to agree. Providing we operate our boats safely we will have a minimal impact on the fish in our canals.
However there are times when even the most experienced of us gets it wrong, we are after all only human, but some things I see are so obviously wrong. People coming through the lift bridge here at Thrupp drive slowly through until their stern is past the bridge then put 2000 revs on the engine to get around the corner. This has two negative effects. First off the fish cant get away and end up minced on the bottom of the canal or floating whole, as per the picture, on the top. The other effect is the so called ‘rooster tail’ that spews water all over the towpath. Here at Thrupp the towpath was recently renewed, not by BW/CRT but by the TCC Club that manages this area. The path was not cheap, yet ignorant boaters, with their high revs, wash it away. They care not for the canal or the hard work of those who make places like Thrupp what they are. Don't get me wrong there are people in the club who need to pay attention to their boat handling skills and how they affect the canal. We could all improve how we drive our boats to the benefit of the canal and wildlife and other users.
High engine speed is not commensurate with good boating skill. Funnily enough the biggest boats do not seem to have a problem turning after the bridge but the smaller boats do. Why is that I wonder? I recently had a word with a hire boat crew who were apparently using 3000 revs to turn their boat through 180o. When I ask why they were using so much engine speed the girl on the tiller said, “I’m trying to turn, its a big boat.” I told her that they come bigger than hers and said to use the little and often principle because she was damaging the bank with her prop wash.
When she finally moored up I went and spoke to the girls aboard. I pointed out that if they used all the engines power to move a 20 ton boat then they would need all the engines power to stop it from hitting the bank and that they didn’t have the skill to judge when that should be. I said if they used a small amount of power then the boat would move slower and it would be easier to judge when and how much to reverse the boat to stop it hitting the bank I also pointed out about all the minced fish on the bottom of the canal. They hadn’t thought of that!
I see many ‘competent’ boaters using far too much throttle to execute the smallest of manoeuvres. Just stopping at the water point unleashes plumes of prop wash where a slower arrival would have been more controlled. Coming south towards the lift bridge you are confronted with a concrete edge in front of you before turning under the bridge, which you have to stop for, and yet people still come down the canal at speed which requires them to go into FULL reverse in order to stop before they hit the edge. Many of them hit the edge because they have no idea how long their boat is! That should be one of the first things they learn. The edge, being continually pounded with a 10-20 ton hammer, is being bashed away. I don’t think it will be long before the edge collapses into the canal and if it does that then Annie’s could be flooded, that would be bad.
Other boats wanting to make the turn are too far to the left, have no room for the back end of the boat to go round then assume that more revs will cure the poor situation they put themselves in! This only serves to bounce their back end off the legally moored boats on the private mooring. A proper boater would of course approach the turn in the middle of the Wide at SLOW speed. This would reduce the minced fish on the bottom of the canal and also leave room for the stern of the boat to manoeuvre in safety without using excessive engine revs or bashing moored boats.
There is no need to use excessive engine revs unless the prevailing winds dictate otherwise. On a normal day even using a winding hole can be done at or near tickover. Tickover can be used to perform most manoeuvres in your boat. There is after all no hurry. I don't care how many qualifications we have there is no need for engine speed on a canal. We simply need to think ahead and understand how our boats impact on the environment if we get it wrong.
You may well think I am wrong in what I am saying, that is your prerogative, but I would suggest you spend a weekend in the summer at Thrupp watching the Wide. It is a real education in how not to drive a boat.