Soundings

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From the Tiller

by Alan Wildman

As far as meetings go, it’s been another of those quiet periods for me. Canal & River Trust is still deep into its public consultation on boat licensing, so not much to report there as yet, although it was disappointing to hear from one of our continuous cruising members that the “limited places, by invitation only” workshop he went to was not attended by several of those that had applied for a place, had actually been invited, and presumably accepted the place. Consultations are a valuable way for people to have their say, and it seems a great shame when such an opportunity arises and is missed. If we don’t take part, we can’t really complain if the outcome doesn’t suit us.

RBOA has recently had a number of requests for help from boaters with personal and/or licensing issues. It often occurs that what appear to be relatively simple issues at the outset turn out to be the result of complicated and long drawn out problems. To my mind, these calls for help are proof of how valuable RBOA is to residential boaters – we are generally able to respond quickly and summon up the best help available in most cases. One of the benefits of our long history is our combined knowledge of who best to speak with on behalf of those who have such problems. The best advice to one and all, though, is to come to us before a problem escalates too far. Early and correct action can frequently avoid much stress and potentially life changing outcomes in the longer run.

RBOA had a larger and refreshed design to its stand at this year’s Crick Boat Show. Thanks are due to all who worked so hard to make it a success. Historically, since the demise of the IWA National Rallies, Crick is our primary public showcase. It’s supported by Beryl’s “So You Want to Live on a Boat?” talks in the seminar marquee and it gives us the opportunity to meet friends, old and new. It’s always interesting, when working the stand, to hear of folks’ dreams and aspirations as regards living afloat. We only ever aim to give honest and sound advice when asked, and by sharing our experiences of the good and not so good aspects of residential boating we can hopefully help prepare new comers for the fresh lifestyle they are planning. Sometimes, of course, I’m sure we deter people from making the move to boat life, particularly when they learn it isn’t always “plain sailing”. Better that than broken dreams later on though.

To my mind, an integral part of life on the water is the community and camaraderie that so often comes to the fore amongst boaters. Throughout the year, there are many boat gatherings and festivals held on and around the waterways. Besides the Crick show, there are two that Marion and I try not to miss each year – the Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally and Stoke Bruerne Village at War. There are far too many to mention all the others here, but most are well publicised in the boating press. Then, of course, there are the floating markets that gather at a wide range of locations up and down the network all year long. So, wherever you are, river or canal, coast, tideway or marina, if you’ve never been to one of these gatherings, why not give it a go. In most cases, I don’t think you’d be disappointed. I might even see you there; if so, do come and say hello.

As ever, my sincere and very best wishes go out to every one of you.


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