Sunday, 22 April 2012

Some thoughts…….

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:

  1. with a paid and recognised home mooring; or
  2. who continuously cruising; or
  3. cruise most of the year and only want a paid winter mooring; or
  4. 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! Smile


Gareth said...

They're good thoughts - and I agree that there ought to be more categories of licence.

'Section 8' rules allow the authorities to confiscate unlicensed boats, and with the current scrap value of steel confiscation of a modern narrowboat would actually generate a profit.

While I personally like the laid back approach to policing the waterways (I rarely have trouble finding a mooring, even in central York, and have found all boaters I have met to be perfectly pleasant and responsible people), I have read enough blogs and forums over the last couple of years to suspect that a "Traffic Warden Approach" could potentially win more supporters than detractors.

Why? Because the people who flout the rules and benefit the lack of assiduous policing are massively outweighed by the people they annoy. Not inconvenience, but annoy.

And there's the rub. This is an issue that exists almost in its entirety on the pages of websites.


Bruce in Sanity said...

Yes, it's a good analysis, and I agree with Gareth's comment. In practice BW lump cats 2 and 3 together, that is you don't lose your CC status just because you've taken a winter mooring.

BW have actually proposed something like the local area licence in the form of a roving mooring permit, which would be a bolt on to the standard licence and permit cruising within a specified area without a mooring permit.

But it didn't find favour with the moorers on the Lee and Stort, nor with NABO and RBOA. I agree that much of this "problem" is in the eye of the beholder and is driven by envy, but there are some places where it is very real, notably the western K&A, the Lee and Stort and the southern end of the Oxford.

There is an element of broken windows phenomenon to this; if you ignore minor infringements, they get worse until it becomes almost unmanageable.

All the best


Wozie said...

We continuously cruise, except for the weeks when we are iced into the canal over winter. We are occasionally inconvenienced by boats who moor on water-points. We passed many 'winter permit holders only' moorings which were unused, where we could have moored, but weren't allowed to.
Those who begrudge paying marina fees on top of their boat licence fee should take up their high cost issues with their marina owners.
We wish you luck and look forward to your boat being completed soon.
nb Oakfield

Chris Hills said...

I agree with all you say, Then I wrote my comments on Maffi's post, my understanding was his comments were aimed at wingers not boat owners with a permanent mooring
nb TillyMay

Dave B said...

HERE HERE Very True The problem is not CC's but CM's(continuous moorers)
how can you hold down a shoreside job
put the kids in a school and continuously cruise Simple
Dave Nb Sokai soon to be a CCer