Saturday, 31 August 2013

Cafe, bilge, painting, CaRT... Oh and Stan (pt 2)

Opposite the Wharf in is a great place to people watch. The pub has a private mooring for patrons about 110 feet long. A boater moors in the middle monopolising the space. Selfish bugger. An older but very smart boat tries to moor behind, he gets about half of his boat on the mooring and half overhangs a private garden. He has pissed me off even more than the selfish git behind him.

Older boat, newly blacked, recently painted, nice pots of flowers, well dressed owners and guests, no CaRT license. They disembark to the pub. Its not a cheap branded pub, it looks a nice place. Their table is opposite our boat, pints of beer for the men bottle of wine for the ladies, very nice. Their food arrives. As I said the pub is not cheap, £20 for sirloin steak, £14.50 for gammon, rolls and panini from £7 to £9.50. It's got to have been £60+ for their quick lunch. My license costs £80 per month, enough for steak and wine at the wharf and a buffet night at the Indian up the cut in Weedon. I get online and report them for license evasion to CaRT using their license checker.

I am usually a bit more chilled about that kind of thing but CaRT are upsetting a lot of boaters with their recent changes. They inherited a problem from the old British Waterways of boaters staying on moorings longer than they should, often labelled 'continuous moorers'. Their solution was to start changing the maximum stay from, in some cases 14 days to add little as 24 hours. They sited complaints from boaters and hire company operators. Several well organised people made requests under the freedom of information act to see how many and the nature of these complaints. There were none. Are these people working at CaRT actually thick or what? They presume that live aboard boaters are the lowest of the low and fail to consider that many are ex doctors, barristers, psychologists and campaigners. 

On our way north we had intended to spend a week in and around the Stoke Bruerne area as we didn't have time to stop on the way down to London. Unfortunately we didn't have time to stop on the way back up either because we were headed to Blisworth for their canal festival. There was a lot we would have wanted to see in this historic canal side village. Great walking area, pubs, a well recommended Indian restaurant, canal side museum and a working blacksmiths that I was hoping to make me a traditional hook for the end of one of my boat poles. It is a popular, busy area that has a high turnover of visiting boats but no particular problems with 'continuous moorers'. It looks unlikely that we will ever visit the area as CaRT has changed the area to 48hr moorings. Insufficient time in my view to be a visitor. 

We are not just popping by on our holiday boat we are moving our home so as well as all the attractions that we want to see there are the usual jobs that need doing within that 48hrs as well. Keeping the boat clean, checking the engine oil/water and the other regular maintenance jobs all takes time. 48hrs just isn't long enough. FaceBookers have just said (on the hundreds of posts over the last few months) 'moor further out on the 14 day spaces and walk in', and in fairness that is what we had intended doing. North of the new 48hr moorings is Blisworth tunnel then boat yard and village so there is nowhere within a couple of miles to moor to the north, south of Stoke Bruerne the 48hr moorings stretches (bar one disabled space and two 7day spaces) about quarter of a mile south of the locks giving over all, and including the tunnel, a length of over four miles where time is prohibitively restricted as the solution to a problem that does not exist. Outside of these visitor mooring areas bankside maintenance is negligible. Collapsed banks, plant life reaching above the boats and undredged moorings force many onto visitor moorings where they can stay for their 48hrs or face the overstay charge/fine of £25 per night. According to their literature 'bills unpaid within 28 days will lead to legal action and a section 8 notice being issued to the county courts to leave the waterway'.

This is meant to be one of three trial areas in the south before roll out nationally. I have heard that other areas have also been changed and have written to CaRT via FB asking for a list of areas that have changed as it really will affect where we decide to cruise. In the mean time my money will no doubt go to other pubs and restaurants in other villages and I may even find another blacksmith on my travels, but Stoke Bruern won't be getting any of my money.

Whilst CaRT have paid and volunteer staff knocking on boaters windows letting them know how long they have before the mooring ranger comes back to issue the fine (and yes I feel it is a fine as CaRT charge considerably less in their own marinas which have full facilities) a little further down the Grand Union canal is a sunk boat moored in a very dangerous place on a lock landing opposite a boat yard. Irene blogged (here) about it recently and I let her know that it was there in May. Jo commented that it was there in February. Surely this should be a CaRT priority. Irene travels on a little further and has a potentially fatal incident in a disrepaired lock. At the other end of the country Bruce (see the pics here) is gagging on the stench of rubbish uncollected. There are lots of angry boaters, some traveling to Stoke Bruerne to protest.  Some, feeling that their chosen way of life, to continuously cruise, is now under threat are making headway to start the Association of Continuous Cruisers (ACC). Of course we will be members and if we ever stop CC'ing become associate members.

Oh and in other news, I made a quick bum perch for the back of the boat, removable so we can still use the back for eating all fresco :-)

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