Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Mooring during winter

This morning the day started overcast with a breeze and a forecast of rain.  Whilst we always knew it was going to get cold after nearly 20 years in Australia our bodies did object.  Smile

Once we head off on Waiouru we’re committed to being constant cruisers (CC’s).  By definition we must keep moving around the network moving at least once every 14 days and not immediately returning to the previous mooring.  The latter group are known as “bridge hoppers” or “continuous moorers” and are breaching their license conditions.

All of this made me reflect on our plans for our first winter on Waiouru.  Fortunately this is likely to be next winter so we have a year to prepare.  One think I’ve noticed is, during winter constant cruisers appear to fall into three categories. 

  1. Those that take temporary shelter in a marina;
  2. Those who pay for a BW towpath winter mooring; and
  3. Those who just keep going.

I can understand the advantages of spending the winter in a marina where you obtain relatively easy access to facilities and services (a mooring shore-power, water, sewage disposal, etc).  The constant cruiser obviously just struggles on.   But what are the advantages of purchasing a British Waterways (BW) towpath winter mooring?

Looking on the BW website I found the following information

50% of the visitor mooring site will be allocated to winter moorings so that those boaters who prefer to cruise throughout the winter are still able to stop temporarily to use facilities. For this reason the winter mooring section of the mooring site will be at the end of the mooring site furthest from the available facilities to ensure visiting boats are able to make use of them when needed. If there are no signs indicating where the winter mooring space is on the site we would ask that you moor as far from the facilities as possible. It is advisable to have mooring pins with you as bollards or rings may not be available.

An interesting phrase “we would ask that you…..”.  Obviously it’s not obligatory otherwise it would read “you must…..”.    Or is this someone’s attempt to not offend the reader by being autocratic and in the process unwittingly diluting the requirement.

So the winter mooring will consist of no more than 50% of the designated visitor mooring area at the location and will be at the furthest extremes of the mooring to allow those boaters cruising to temporarily stop and use the facilities.

I’ve looked at the BW website to get an idea of the cost of a winter mooring in an area I’m reasonably familiar with.  The location only has water and the monthly cost of mooring Waiouru would be £148.  That is rather expensive water!

My assumption is a continuous cruiser who is prepared to pay for a winter mooring would also want relatively easy access to, water, pumpout/elsan, rubbish, access to transport or shops and perhaps shore-power.  Otherwise… why bother?

Then I recalled a recent towpath conversation with a boater who cruised during the summer and in the winter he took his mobile home to Spain and Portugal.  He obviously needs to moor his boat during winter.  Moreover, he wouldn’t require any facilities.  Perhaps the BW winter moorings are used by this category of boater?

Finally, I asked myself “How often do BW check their winter moorings?”  Do they “move on” boaters who are squatting on the facilities and what do they do about boats on the moorings without a winter mooring licence and are unoccupied…… pull them from the water… tow them away?  I suspect not!

I suppose these questions will be answered during our first winter as CC’s. 

1 comment :

Peter and Margaret said...

I believe BW have become much more pro active in the last few years relating to non-payers, either moorings or license. They have teams who make marina visits, and notify the marina owners about offenders with expired licenses within their confines, attaching notices to boats. CC'ers who fail to comply with the BW requirements of their license are served with CC1 notices, which gives 28 days to move on. CC'ers who live on their boat are also required to make court appearances relating to the Human Rights Act before any further action can be taken against them. The correct legal process does have to be followed, but I have seen boats with expired licences removed from marinas, then towed away by BW to be sold. BW also sell boats from the towpath in the same way, when all avenues of contact with the owner have dried up. These are also sold on at auction. If the owner is available, but hasn't complied with BW's requests, then the proceeds of the sale will be returned to them less costs. All this comes under S17 British Waterways Act 1995 I believe. They have the power, and have recently, seemingly, started to use it, and I presume the paid for winter moorings will be the areas that are targeted by wardens during the low season. Presently, there is some argument that the act provides "guidance" for continuous cruisers and so is not a legal requirement. You make your choice and take your chances.