TWO topics have come up recently which make an entirely predictable appearance every year—probably because there is no hard and fast answer to either of them, as it depends very much on circumstances.
As far as the open/closed lock gates controversy is concerned, I can only repeat what I have said before—it doesn't really matter what happens, since the arguments are finely balanced—what does matter is that everyone does the same thing. As we do have that situation at present, where the very large majority do close gates and paddles, it seems to me to be very silly to try and change it.
The other topic, of course, is 'slowing down past moored boats'. Personally, I have always held that it is the responsibility of the moorer to make sure his boat is secure. We always try to avoid using pins, seeking out sheet piling to use our mooring chains, which can be positioned in exactly the right position and the ropes hauled tight to keep the boat undisturbed even when passed by someone going at full legal speed.
Even bollards and rings are less satisfactory, since there seems to be a sod's law of bollards, which states that whatever the length of your boat, the bollards are never in quite the right place. The trouble with pins is that they will always pull out eventually, no matter how slowly boats pass—they are simply not fit for purpose. What is needed here is some research into a more satisfactory form of anchorage - perhaps a start could be made with the Norfolk Broads type rond anchor or some sort of corkscrew device, such as is sold for mooring dogs.
Peter Ponting was extraordinarily unlucky to be hit by three passing boats in two hours. I cannot recall being hit that many times in 25 years of boat ownership; it may have happened, but the only one that sticks in the mind was being hit by a badly steered rowing eight near Cambridge. I can remember the odd collision for which I was responsible—these invariably happen on very windy days when trying to pass moored boats slowly, whilst passing another boat going the other way. No damage is done.
Meadow Lane lock in Nottingham has had the full treatment, every one of the many signs with new CART stickers. I had not registered how many different background colours British Waterways signs can have—black, white, yellow and red just for starters, which must make the whole exercise a logistical nightmare.
As the picture shows, where the background is black the swan in the logo comes out black—it is good to see such a rare bird being referenced in this way. Mind you, the whole exercise will take a long time—they still haven't finished the last one, as the weir warning notice shows.
Down the Witham
Cruising down the Fossdyke and Witham to Lincoln and Boston for the first time since 1999 I was impressed by the improvements in the mooring facilities—every village of any size has a smart pontoon mooring, with room for several boats, to allow for local exploration.
The only exception to this is Lincoln itself, where the former (tatty and charged for) mooring in Brayford Pool has disappeared, being replaced by a building being constructed over the water. How they got planning permission I cannot understand.
For once, this is not British Waterways' fault, as they do not own Brayford Pool, and they have provided visitor moorings at their nearby yard, though not nearly enough, since most of the space is let for long term moorings.
I understand that there is a plan to provide visitor moorings on the south side of the pool. In fact, there is plenty of free quayside mooring just beyond the Glory Hole, though it might be a bit too intimate with the city for some people's taste—no worse than Chester, though. It's odd that the only access gate in the railings has been chained up with a non-standard padlock, instead of the British Waterways key it should have.
At Boston, the tatty old moorings have been replaced by some splendid new pontoons, apparently with EU money. The arrangement is unusual, as the moorings are shared between visitors and permanent live aboard moorings, according to the notice shown. This made for a rather noisy evening from generators running well after the permitted time.
I finally got to meet the Editor and She Who Must Be Obeyed when my passage through Sawley happened to coincide with their Tuesday on their boat. Good to meet them after all this time; I must have been writing these columns for about five years.
I was treated to lunch and a walk round Sawley Marina—which I had never realised is so enormous—just as well the regular floods keep the boats there bottled up a lot of the time, as the Trent & Mersey would be even more crowded!