I had a letter from C&RT yesterday. I thought that it may have been a little seasons greetings to licence payers but it turned out to be this! It seems that I was just one of the lucky ones!!
I am definitely not a C&RT basher. I am from the house of Libra and as such always seem to see both sides of an argument (if you believe in horoscopes that is). I am very pleased to see that they are doing checks to ensure that people on the cut are insured as it may well be our boat that gets damaged by an uninsured vessel. I wonder how they select the licencees to check up on. It could be that they decide that they need to carry out 10% checks and just divide the number on the list by ten and take every tenth number. It maybe that they take all the boats that are renewing their licence in a certain month. It would seem that if they were after catching people who were not insured that there would be more scientific ways of doing it.
There is a enduring debate on the canals about continuous cruising/mooring, length of time allowed to stay on visitor moorings etc. Despite what the arguments are the 'rules' are clear if common sense is applied to them. There are also 'rules' on the canals such as you do not run engines or generators etc between 2000 and 0800 to avoid disturbing neigbours, not mooring on water points for longer than required to fill up, not mooring up on lock landings so as to leave them clear for boats putting crew ashore or picking them up, waiting for a boat approaching the lock with the level their way rather than turning it round and wasting water, and I'm sure there are others that could be added to the list. I'm sure there will be very legitimate reasons why occasionally we, or anybody, will have to indulge in all of these things. This year I have been witness to all the above contraventions. I would say that most people have broken these commandments at times. How many have stopped for water and put the kettle on. The water has finished and you are still drinking your tea and eating lunch before moving off. What gets me is that when we do such a thing we are riddled with guilt and spend the time craning our necks to make sure nobody is coming and may need the water point. If they do we quickly down mugs and sarnies and leap to the ropes to move off apologising and begging forgiveness. When many others do the same they accuse you in words or looks or gestures of disturbing them when they have every right to complete their lunch in peace and quiet. We had two boats on the Calder and Hebble, one moored on the lock landing and one actually in the lock having lunch. They never apologised, they never helped and indeed showed great anxiety as we finally made our approach to the lock with both boats double banked now just outside the lock and making the approach almost a contact sport. An old couple were coming up Marple lock flight as we were going down. They had a friend going ahead of them who was just changing the locks round for them regardless of who else was the cut. When challenged they made claims that were obvious lies and could not be substantiated instead of just apologising. Loads of other instances can be given for similar incidents.
My main point is that if users were just polite and thought of others rather than just themselves rules would not be necessary. All the changes to bylaws and regulations that are proposed, and may be carried, will not make any difference if people are just so selfish that they think they don't apply to them. Confrontation and upset could be greatly reduced if those that get caught causing disadvantage to other users just accepted that they were in the wrong and apologised as this would diffuse the situation straightaway. Obviously this problem is not confined to the canals and rivers of this fair land.
Those of us who may feel wronged should show some tolerance also as we never know the reason for the actions taken and there may be very real and legitimate reasons for the 'wrong doing'. All this thinking of others and tolerance would be much easier if everybody knew what the 'rules' were. British Waterways seemed to avoid confrontation and now C&RT have picked up the baton I feel the only way to stop an escalation of 'do what ever you want' is to quickly set the rules in concrete and then apply them rigourously through out the system. Folk would soon know what is required and start complying. Simple isn't it! But, now back to the beginning, there will be always those that think the rules don't apply to them, or at that time. So really once more I think that the way forward is just to try and be tolerant and just point out to transgressors that they may well be the first ones to get irate if somebody was having lunch when they wanted to use the water point.
I seemed to have droned on a bit but maybe that it is reading all the Christmas cards. Peace and Goodwill to all Men (and women).
Seasons greetings to you all.