Ralph gives the facts...

Published: Friday, 23 November 2012

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WAITING for the predictable responses such as 'it's nonsense—he's imagining things' reply from Canal & River Trust, concerning his intimidation Ralph Freeman thought it time to add a few facts:

In the ten years that I've lived on the Cut I've not had an overstaying notice or any other correspondence of that nature with British Waterways/CaRT, so I'm still at a loss to know what 'the letter' and all it's legalise is about.

For many years I have had mooring arrangements with Barton Marina and of late Aston Marina, where I call in during the summer for 'pit stops' and also buy four months mooring for the winter in case of bad weather. For the above services I pay an agreed fee 12 months in advance.

I consider the details of that arrangement to be a commercial and private matter, but to all intents and purposes I have always had a base or 'home' mooring. The photo shows my boat frozen in on it's home mooring at Aston Marina in February this year.

Is this a problem?

Because I like to wander about the system, particularly in the winter, I may not spend much time on my home mooring. Until recently I thought that was my choice and not a problem. Now I'm not so sure?

Nothing to hide

If BW/CaRT had/have any queries regarding my home moorings or my use of the system, then they only have to ask. I've nothing to hide. I regularly see Patrol Officers when moored on the towpath, so if there was/is something they need to know, why not simply knock on the boat and ask?
Failing that send a letter to my 'mailbox' address or better still email me.

Marina patrols

In many marinas CaRT staff do licence checks on moored boats at regular intervals. If there are any queries regarding who does and does not moor there, why are they not raised with the appropriate member of the marina staff during such inspections?

Phone call

None of that appears to have taken place. Instead I get a phone call from the marina manager saying he has received a rather 'threatening' letter from CaRT and added words to the effect "What have you been up to?" He proceeded to give me the gist of it's content over the phone. Being at a total loss to understand what prompted such a letter, I replied with the following email the following day:

2nd Sept 2012
To:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Re:-Narrowboat Grey Nomad -- 508284

Dear Sir / Madam,

I understand you have queried my mooring arrangements with Aston Marina.
For the last 3 years I have used Aston Marina as my base and moored there for the winter 4 months (November to the beginning of March).
I also moor there for approximately 4 weeks during the summer months for 'pit stops'
To summarise then I spend 7months out on the system and 5 months at Aston Marina. I have done this ever since leaving Barton Marina.
If there is a problem with this mooring arrangement please reply to this E-Mail. I am currently out on the system and will not be collecting my mail for several weeks.

Ralph Freeman.

I received no acknowledgement or reply to this E-Mail.

Keeping a log

I keep a 'ships' log, which following a Subject Access Request made under the Data Protection Act to CaRT for all the information they hold on me/my boat, I hope to be able to compare my actual movements with the sightings logged by CaRT (and it's contractors?) now held on CaRT's computers. It should make interesting reading?