Thursday 19 January 2012

Urgent: Your Boat is Causing an Obstruction!

Low water level - Startops Reservoir
I'm not usually one of those boating bloggers that rants against BW, so my apologies in advance because this is a bit of a rant.

Last Thursday I received an email from the BW Boating Co-ordinator South East to say that “The mooring of your boat is causing an obstruction to waterway staff and therefore it is essential that you remove the boat urgently.”

This was my reply.

Dear Boating Co-ordinator

On Monday afternoon I checked my email and found that the Tring Summit would be closed as of Wednesday and that we would have to vacate our winter mooring. At this extremely short notice my husband arranged to take Tuesday off work so that he could move our boat. I went to work, my husband took the children to nursery and by 9am he had begun working through the Marsworth flight.

At 11.25am on Tuesday 10th BW sent me some further information “regarding the water levels in the area where you currently have a winter mooring.” This lengthy explanation of the problem again re-iterated that the section would be closed to through traffic and moored boats from Wednesday 11th onwards. The document said that displaced boats could relocate their moorings

“to the north, adjacent to Marsworth yard. Good parking and facilities are available.”

Later that day we received a further email admitting that this was short notice, and giving boaters until Saturday to relocate. My husband had by then moored on the towpath in Marsworth but I told him that as winter moorers we'd received an email suggesting that we could moor adjacent to the Marsworth yard, allowing us the convenience of good parking and facilities. He moved the boat again.

Today the local enforcement officer told my husband that we should have been moored north of the bridge on a towpath mooring. Later today I got home from work to find two urgent voicemails and an email accusing us of causing an obstruction and asking us to move again, immediately.

I did not appreciate the tone of these messages when we have gone out of our way to move quickly to the place we were told to. We are unable to take any more time off work. If BW staff need access to the site they may relocate our boat as necessary to the north side of the bridge but I believe my husband has already requested that we are moored against the towpath (not double moored) as we have young children and a pushchair to get on and off the boat.

As I have since found out, local water-based businesses were invited to a crisis meeting last Saturday about the water level problem so I am sure this has not arisen completely “out of the blue”. Following the short notice, inconvenience and misinformation we've experienced I would think an apology would have been more appropriate than the emails, voice mails and conversations we've had with BW staff that seem to suggest we have done something wrong. This is unfortunately another incidence where BW has made me feel that I am an inconvenience instead of a valued customer. We moved as quickly as possible to the place where we were told to and are being made to feel as if we've done something wrong.

Boat Wife

Dear BW

I write to confirm that I have just spoken to the enforcement officer and we will be moving our boat tomorrow to Marsworth winter moorings, north of the bridge. Given that she has said this will be ok, I am disappointed that we had to be so stressed out yesterday by messages such as "urgent" and "immediate". Please forward my feedback to the people who handle your communications strategy.


Boat Wife

Dear Boating Co-ordinator

CC: Senior Waterway Manager

Thank you for your apology.

I do indeed think we were misled about where to moor. I had assumed we were specifically told to go to the BW yard because of anticipated congestion in the area, and the fact that we had paid for a winter mooring.

I am working this afternoon, but if BW staff do need to move my boat today please ask them to leave me a voice message explaining where it now is. My husband got the impression from the enforcement officer that it would have to be moved urgently. Otherwise we will try to find an alternative mooring tomorrow, when we are not working.


Boat Wife

The Friday Rant Club Have linked this up to the Friday Rant at


The original urgent voicemail I received from the enforcement officer said,
“I know that you have a winter mooring but you should be on the towpath. We have two staff boats coming down there and they need to get on to the wharf.”
I know that BW are doing some work at the yard and I didn’t want to obstruct any working boats needing access, so we moved our boat on Saturday.

On Sunday, the enforcement officer (who usually moors on the Tring summit) had moved her own residential craft onto the mooring adjacent to the BW yard.

Read more about the Tring summit closure.

The pictures below show the current low water levels in the reservoirs and above Marsworth bottom lock.


Muddling Along said...

Blimey - I can see why you need to rant, sounds as if it was incredibly badly handled

Also have realised that you aren't that far away from us if you are around Tring then you aren't too far away from us!

Narrowboat Wife said...

Cool - where are you? I love your blog but have been rubbish at visiting since I've been frantically building my business. Would love to meet mummy bloggers in the area!