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Monday, 24 March 2014

What to do, what to do?

With our imminent return to cruising I have started to think about all sorts of things, and then in to my head popped 'what should you really do when passing fishermen/anglers on the cut? There is nothing

A fishing match on the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

specific to anglers in the Boaters Handbook. The Considerate Boaters Manual suggests that you reduce speed to tick over and stay in the centre of the canal unless asked to do something else. When passing a match, like the above photo, we do do this. If meeting a lone or separate fishermen I slow down but perhaps not to tick over. I try to watch them from as far back as I can as they are quite often concentrating so hard, hard of hearing, or my engine is very quiet, as they seem to  have no natural inquisitiveness to see what the noise is and look our way to confirm that they have seen me coming. I then may gun the engine to make a louder noise. It becomes very tense on the after end then as with those big carp poles they seem to leave it to the very last second before lifting it out of the way. If you haven't made eye contact it could result in a full astern, or a broken fibre glass rod. I therefore now have no hesitation in giving them a toot to ensure they know we are there. There are some very friendly and cheery folk that are fisherman, but I would say there is a majority that find it difficult to raise a grunt of acknowledgement as we pass but we always remain cheerful.

Online moorings going on and on.

Then there is the slowing down for moored vessels debate. Not really a debate as you should slow down for moored vessels! However how much should you slow down? It seems that if you were punting along with your shaft you would be going too fast for some folk who should perhaps get a hobby like gardening or similar to prevent them just sitting by a window waiting for somebody to come past. People say that you should pass at tick over, well tick over is different for all engines and boats. I found myself getting a little rattled by  the speed of boats passing and I now believe that  when you are inside the boat the speed of the 'offender' seems high, but if you were on the deck it wouldn't seem so bad. I put this down to the fact that your view is limited and the other boat is close, something like the Doppler effect. Coupled with the fact that it seems to pass by the windows or port quickly where as the fixed bulkheads provide a very close reference point. Where as outside the field of vision is wider and you see the boat approaching but not with a close reference for judging speed like through the port. My bug bear is the fact that they slow down when there bow is level with the end of your boat. This means that their speed is still high, and the attractive/repulsive forces are still high as they pass. I always slow down at least a boat length before the boat I am passing and if going speedily even sooner. The same is also true when passing as speed could be reapplied before clearing the boat being overtaken as it takes a while to pick up speed and create the forces acting. Mind you  what ever speed you are going there is nothing so boring as passing miles and miles of offside moorings. It should be born in mind also that when mooring you should do so properly and not so that even a canoe passing would drag you off the side. I suppose that if we all used two head/stern lines and a spring each end it would be much more secure, but I can't see it becoming the norm.
Queuing for locks.

Then there is the etiquette of locks etc. This is a minefield if you let it be. I have found that the best use of volunteer lock keepers is not to assist the passage of boats up locks by actually swinging a windlass, but rather the crowd control of gangs of boaters jockeying for position to go up or down! It would seem simple to carry out. Those with crew to spare  assist others with no crew or less experienced crew at the lock to speed things along. That is the first problem. Everybody has their own way of doing things and can be very de-chuffed if you step in and upset the routine. I always ask if they want a paddle opening/dropping etc and how much it should be opened. There is a skill involved in making snap judgement about the people involved some will not take kindly to any assistance and some are actually craving for you to assist. There are some that are quite willing for you to do it all for them. Helen's pet hate is the boats with a couple on the bow in the sun with a glass of wine and/or a book watching whilst you are working them up or down! I really try to treat the locks as a social event. I am well known for being grumpy, but not all the time, but with strangers you  have to make an effort. You may never see them again so it costs nothing to be nice. I am quite willing to watch and learn from somebody else, and I am willing to pass on any knowledge I can if it seems appropriate. The skill is in being pleasant, considerate and polite. Far too many aren't, but the vast majority are. I also don't like this us and them with regard to hire boaters as the vast majority of us were there once. I actually find the  hire boaters are fine and just want to get on with their holiday with the minimum of fuss. They may be in more of a rush as they have to get round the ring but usually are trying to have a good time. Well maybe the boats full of lads dressed as pirates and those full of girls dressed in pink cowboy hats etc but just don't moor near them.

Pristine moorings!

Then there is the moorings that be a problem. The regulation is not running of engines or generators between 2000 and 0800. That seems straight forward enough but not for many it seems and hackles rise when the rules are 'bent' or flaunted. I think it is perfectly reasonable to not watch the tele that night if your batteries are too flat but of course there may be several underlaying reasons. The same goes for people overstaying on mooring, tying up on water points and lock landings, and all the other stuff that people do. It really should be quite simple, if you wouldn't want it to happen to you, why subject others to it! 

Blimey now I have written this I am becoming anxious before even setting off. I resolve to stay calm, chat to all in-sundry, be nice to fisherman and pick up any rubbish I spy with a reasonable distance of my mooring each day, and most of all enjoy what ever comes along. If you see me this year on the cut looking a little puce and with gritted teeth please smile and remind me of what I have written. All the very best to all those out on the cut and those who will join them at some stage over the year.

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