From the Tiller

by Charles Foster

From the March 2021
Spring is in the air and we have a road map forward in the ongoing saga of Covid 19. Full news on how it will affect us is published later in this edition of Soundings.
I am happy to report that we have been accepted as an Affiliate member of the RYA (The Royal Yachting Association). This greatly improves our access to parliament and specialist maritime legal advice. More information on the benefits to follow.
Not another survey? BSS Boat Owners Safety Scheme – Survey. We are encouraging all members to respond to this survey, so you have the opportunity to have your say. More information about this is in this edition of Soundings.Check the T&Cs, (small print), on your Insurance Policies. We have heard from a member who spends 6 months afloat and 6 months ashore. To his horror he has discovered new wording in his household Insurance Policy that limits the number of days you can stay away from the property. Whereas, in the past, cover was given so long as a regular log was kept of you or family members’ visits made during the period the property was not occupied. It now appears that the property must be occupied during the periods of non-occupation, not just visited. Anyone with experience of this could they contact me so that we can try to obtain an acceptable clause or provider to cover this type of home/boat usage. Currently, I am recovering from an emergency eye operation to deal with a severely detached retina which has got me thinking about how do we make our boats suitable for either old age or recuperation after an injury or illness. Anyone who has experienced this please contact us with how you overcame it and any tips one could share with our members to help them should they need help.
In my case being married helps, so I have a nurse on hand but many of us do not have this help or hinderance! But we really do need to be able to help our members and fellow cruisers that need assistance.
With my eye, I noticed a blurring in the sight that did not go away after a couple of days. On speaking to a couple of friends the conclusion was that I needed to see someone about it. This was not that easy as due to Covid I was not that keen on going to the Accident and Emergency Department nearest to my current mooring. However, I needed a referral anyway and my Doctor was not really open for business. On his suggestion, I went into town and found an optician that would see me as an emergency case, which they did, and to my surprise, I was immediately booked into the Emergency Eye Department for an 08.30 appointment the next day!
I turned up and was seen straight away – tests progressed resulting in the surgeons staying on in the afternoon and getting a theatre team together to operate as soon as they could. No chance to escape! The operation went well apart from me not being very happy under a plastic sheet for nearly 2 hours which resembled a body bag. At this juncture I would like to thank the NHS, doctors and nurses for all they did and to tell our members that the NHS is OPEN for normal services even in these difficult times.
I would suggest opting to be “put out” as I am no hero and you have to stay still. Full marks to the anaesthetist for twigging my concerns as he gave a dose of something and I woke up much happier – job done.
Then you get home with a bag full of drops etc. with instructions to be still, sleep face down for a week then sleep and sit upright. Not as easy as you think in a narrow boat.
The main problems I found were as follows which I think would be the same in a number of other health issues.
Can I easily get in and out of the boat easily from the land?
How do I get to the treatment centre?
Where am I moored in respect of services?
Can I move or do I need help to move to a more suitable location.
Have I contacted all whom may be able to offer help or allow overstaying permissions?
Is the water tank full?
Have I enough fuel for charging or heat etc?
How full is the holding tank or Thetford?
Can you move around easily on board without tripping over stuff?
Do I need extra grab rails or better access points
Can someone administer your eyedrops or attend to dressings?
With a solid fuel stove dust and lifting coal or wood presents further difficulties.
The main reason I point this out is that we do not consider what to do in these circumstances but we should mentally have a plan in mind to deal with this type of occurrence. I never had really but it has opened my eyes to future proofing the boat in respect of the points mentioned above.
That’s enough from me. Please keep safe and a helpful eye open for our fellow boaters.

All the best
Charles Foster

We as a group are continuing to offer help and advice to members as needed. I am looking forward to the return of face to face meetings; also, to when we can really enjoy our restful, well maintained and respectfully managed waterways. Possibly I am wrong in this New World, but good old customer service and relationships’ management for most managing bodies is paramount. So why are they getting it all so wrong. Simply they do not listen.

The RBOA Newsletter, Soundings, is sent free to members six times a year.

It is also available to non-members for £2 (+ £1.20 P&P).