Wednesday 16 November 2011

Winter Boating

Canal frozen, Angel Islington, London.
As part of my Living Aboard series of blog posts I wrote an article titled Is it Cold in Winter? The past two winters have been exceptionally cold and more of the same is forecast for the end of this year. British Waterways, with assistance from the Residential Boat Owners Association has recently produced a guidance document explaining what services will and will not be provided in extreme weather conditions. British Waterways will arrange for contractors to visit mooring sites to repair emergency plumbing problems, electric faults and frozen locks, (if there is no other access to the site.) They will organise follow-up calls if refuse collections are missed and will arrange grit delivery to sites with grit bins, (the grit is to be distributed on site by boaters).

BW will not organise emergency call-outs for frozen water pipes or pump outs, as these cannot be repaired until they thaw. They will not arrange for the removal of sewage from a boat where there are working alternative facilities on site. BW recommend that boaters stock-pile water supplies in advance of a forecast freeze, as they will not supply on-site water bowsers (trailer mounted water tanks). BW offices will be closed from 2pm on 23rd December until 3rd January, but customers can report any faults by calling the Freephone Canals number 0800 47 999 47. Cruising in winter can be a challenge. You will need to be aware of the dangers of ice and snow on towpaths, bridges and lock-sides. Keep well back from the edge and use handrails on lock gates. Hold on to something sturdy when getting on and off your boat. Clear snow from the gunwales and use grit when you can. De-icer and spray grease are useful for locks and padlocks on your own boat and on the boating facilities. Try to keep ropes out of the water as frozen ropes are difficult to work with! It may be an idea to keep spare, dry ropes indoors.

Winter can actually be a good time to buy a narrowboat, barge or canal boat as you can really get a feel for what the boat will be like during the colder months, and go into it with your eyes open. At Boatshed Grand Union you can see a great selection of photos of each boat before arranging a viewing.

Finally, I am going to re-iterate my previous advice for boating in the winter: Put a casserole in the oven and some mulled wine on top of the stove!

Image Credits
'Mulled Wine for the Party' by fieldtripp
'Frozen Canal' by D Melmoth
Creative Commons License

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