Friday, 13 February 2015

Cruisers an’ stuff

It has been a part of the boating landscape for more years than I have been a boater and will be for many years after I shuffle off this mortal coil. The Canal and River Trust (CRT) and British Waterways (BW) before them have always been telling Continuous Cruisers that they don't travel far enough and then will not say how far is ‘enough' when asked. The 1995 ACT says move every 14 days, it does not specify a particular distance or movement pattern.

Let’s be serious about this, a proper Continuous Cruiser is just that Continuous and a Cruiser. They/We 1. Have a passion for the canals. 2. Desire to see it all. They/we have no great interest in staying in one place too long. Once you have explored the visitor attraction and spent a night in the pub at one location there is another one in front of you so off you go.

Often the ‘attraction’ we want to see is not necessarily a ‘listed’ visitor attraction. It might be an old fort, an abandoned village, a ridge and furrow field or just maybe walking in some ancient woodland, a visit to a local pub, a museum, spend time with friends, there’s endless possibilities. We abide by the time restrictions laid down by the 1995 Act of 14 days, but rarely stay that long. If due to illness we need to stay longer we contact CRT to make sure its OK. Whilst we are out and about we report to CRT any problems we find such as fallen trees, landslides, damaged locks etc. And when we come across a boat adrift we tie it up and make sure it is secure. We are the eyes of CRT, they said so not me. So not only do we have a very special life, but we are useful to the boating community as a whole.

There is an official ‘Guidance for boats without a home mooring’ which no one likes. Words like area, place, and neighbourhood are a bone of contention.Terms such as ‘bona fide’ and navigation also cause confusion. Some CCers, especially in London have constantly asked for clarification on what exactly these mean and how far they have to move. In the Guidance CRT go to some lengths to explain the meanings of words that might be contentious. Such as the exact number of the six definitions of a particular word in the shorter Oxford Dictionary. To try to address this CRT tried to offer up a map of what it considered answered some of the questions. It was rejected out of hand as being unworkable.

There are those who cannot abide by the rules for which they sign. The reasons are various, but generally tend to rotate around schooling, working, engine problems! Only one of these three has any validity for a CCer. They seem to spend their life organising their next move. And at times move from one side of a bridge to the other to avoid getting a ticket. Continuous Avoiders would be a better title for them.

Mr Richard Parry the CEO of CRT has agreed that the Trust should develop a clear response to the question, ‘How far should I travel to comply?' He has received representations from the AWCC & IWA that CCers should be required to move a minimum of 500 miles a year. This is a rather draconian proposal that seeks to make it difficult for people, who’s lifestyle they don’t like, to stay on the water.  I can’t help but think that whilst this is doable we will be in a position of servility to the CRT. Always filling our day cruising to comply with the target (boating is supposed to be a leisure activity). Never stopping long enough to take in the scenery or visit a landmark, or moor for a few days to catch a train to visit family/friends/doctors/hospital. The ‘CCers’ in London, (some of whom think in terms of cruising in boat lengths) could never comply with this and would be forced off the water in a heartbeat which, I suspect is the plan.

I don’t understand the AWCC/IWA’s thinking. They always complain that when they go out on their annual summer trip there are never any vacant visitor moorings. Well this is very true and there is a plausible answer. When Mr Annual Boater takes to the water for his two week sojourn so do 10,000 of his comrades. So it is not the CCers who are hogging all the Visitor moorings but other visitors! Though most would not admit it I suspect there is an element of jealousy in that we are ‘living the dream’ and they so often can’t. It does take a lot of courage to take the step to move on board and some people don’t have this courage.


Naughty-Cal said...

I started off agreeing with you on this one but towards the end it just turned into yet another rant.

If all 10,000 of your so called "Mr Annual Boater's" all came out to play at once your enjoyment of the waterways as a CCer would be greatly compromised.

Just be careful what you wish for.

Anonymous said...

Well observed Maffi, however I do think C&RT could make life easier for the CC's. Eg in Braunston the 48hr summer moorings revert to 14 days in the winter. In Cropredy there's probably ten mooring spaces above the lock which are 24 hrs all year. When we moored there recently we were the only boat. Winter cruising is not always as easy as it is during the summer season. As you say there's no consistency. Ann Oakfield

NB Constance said...


I am now a continuous cruiser and have been since August 2013. Looking at the comment "from the AWCC & IWA that CCers should be required to move a minimum of 500 miles a year. " That's one HELL of a distance! From August until 31/12/2013 I probably CC'd about 90 miles as that's about all you can do on the K&A in that time without being ridiculous. In 2014 I have probably covered about 200 miles (Trowbridge-Reading-Brentford-Camden-Milton Keynes-Braunston-Banbury-Oxford). That was quite a journey for me and very satisfying. 500 miles would probably have been impossible but I agree that the current rules are ill-defined and open to abuse. I took the time to find out about what it meant to be a CCer before doing it.
I would think that a 'bona fide' CCer should be expected to cover should be in excess of 100 miles (or maybe a little more).
The London CCers and the Bath CCers are taking the piss a bit. I geuss they are not really Boaters but those looking for a cheap rent.
I have waffled on too much.
Colin NB Constance, currently at Kidlington.

Maffi said...

You obviously missed my point NC. Those who come out on their annual holiday jaunt always come out in the height of the season and complain there is no where to moor. They only ever see the CCer that is occupying a space that they could fit into and never their mates from the marina that have moored in the middle of a two boat space.

JohnO said...

You see 500 miles and think that's a lot. In a year its 9.5 miles a week even on a heavily locked stretch that's not much more than 5 hours a week!! On any continuous cruiser can fail to achieve that sort of mileage escapes me

Maffi said...

My confusion. I was mixing up months and years.

Anonymous said...

Praps C&RT should consider things from the CCs point of view. Not everyone is fit enough to travel 500mls which is a quarter of the canal system btw. Mooring times could be extended in wintertime as weather conditions are sometimes unfavourable for cruising. As you say it is a big commitment to move aboard permanently and have to continuously move for water, diesel/coal/gas,rubbish disposal,and of course pumpout/elsan emptying. Then there are Drs/dentist/hospital apps, catching buses and having shops nearby to consider. However most CCrs manage to juggle all these things without breaking the rules, don't they? Ann

Maffi said...

Ann being a CCer is a choice we make. The day to day chores of boating life are, in the main, just stuff we do as we go around.

We don't continuously move for water/diesel/coal/gas etc we do these things as we are on our way. We just have to plan a bit.

In winter times are a bit of a variable and depends where you are. In London you won get away with an overstay but out in the sticks you can stay longer. Being a proper CCer has its benefits.