Back here Maffi wrote about a letter published in the May 2012 Canal Boat magazine suggesting Continuous Cruisers pay a higher annual license fee. His comments resulted in a rebuttal from Heth <here>.
Having read both blog entries I suspect Heth has misinterpreted Maffi’s post. Maffi constantly refers to “You” (the whinging moorers). At the start of paragraph 7 Maffi writes “Why do all you whinging little <expletive deleted> who buy a boat, you cannot get good use out of……………..”. So he is still directing his comments at the whingers. From paragraph 8 onwards the word “whingers” is missing. However I think we might assume he is still directing his comments at those who complain about continuous cruisers. Heth has interpreted his comments to mean all boaters with a legal home mooring are complaining about continuous cruisers; hence her response.
I also find the original letter to the editor of Canal Boat magazine interesting.
The writer starts by claiming support from the majority of boaters with a paid home mooring. “Resentment is felt amongst the majority of boaters who pay for a licence and pay for their mooring on top….” Really? I’m unaware of any formal survey that has established this fact! Indeed; as a moorer Heth refutes it! Frankly I think it’s an ambit claim to seize the “high moral ground”.
The writer suggests the continuous cruiser licence be increased. As an offset the continuous cruiser will be eligible for a winter mooring. He alleges this is a more equitable arrangement as the winter moorings are often used without the requisite permit and these boaters are not always moved on by patrols. So what he is really suggesting is continuous cruisers don’t comply with their license requirements; don’t pay for a winter mooring and BW are ignoring the situation.
But what is the REAL issue? Looking at the current BW licensing requirements indicates the following.
Every boat must have a current and valid license. According to BW “The Licence allows you to use the Boat in any Waterway including mooring for short periods while cruising. 'Short period' means up to 14 days or less where a local restriction applies. The Licence does not permit mooring for any longer period.”
BW further states all boats must have a “Home Mooring”. By inference, there is a further cost to the boater in obtaining this mooring. Any boat that does NOT have a home mooring is classified as a continuous cruiser. There are additional requirements for continuous cruisers. For example; they may be required to provide evidence they are genuinely continuously cruising around the network. I suggest by definition, a boater can’t be a continuous cruiser if they go onto a winter mooring as stated by the writer to Canal Boat.
It appears to me in practice there are actually four categories of private boaters, rather than the two recognised by BW. There are boaters:
- with a paid and recognised home mooring; or
- who continuously cruising; or
- cruise most of the year and only want a paid winter mooring; or
- who don’t want to pay for a mooring (or can’t obtain one) and don’t want to continuously cruise.
I suspect the majority of boaters in category 1 don’t particularly object to the boaters in categories 2 & 3. <they may even envy them!>. However the category 1 boater resent the category 4 boaters and “lump them in” with the category 2 & 3 boaters because there is currently no other category for them. The category 2 & 3 boaters also resent the category 4 boaters because they are licensing themselves as continuous cruisers but not genuinely complying with the license requirements. Currently category 4 boaters have no option other than to declare themselves as continuous cruisers.
What to do? Well, as the writer of the letter to Canal Boat implies it’s a question of having the right mix of licenses and enforcement. Why can’t there be four categories of license as stated above? Licensing requirements already exist for Categories 1 – 3 boaters. Why not create a license for category 4. They could pay for a local area license. The license would have certain restrictions but enable them to moor for periods longer than 14 days, provided they moored outside areas with a duration restriction (ie; popular areas and facilities).
Boaters would be able to apply for the license that most suits their needs. Home moorers need to provide evidence they have a paid mooring. After the first year, continuous cruisers (including winter moorers) may be required to provide evidence they complied with their special license requirements. By default; everyone else pays for a local license.
As for enforcement. In my experience those who are inclined to transgress the rules respond to whatever minimum enforcement is in place. “Hot spots” need to be regularly policed and penalties (probably monetary) imposed. Once people realise the rules will be enforced without fear or favour the transgressors comply and the rest stop complaining.
But then what do I know…….. I’m still waiting to be a private boater!