I got this stoppage notice from Waterscape today, no doubt a lot of us did. I don’t like copying & pasting, but there’s too much detail in here that needs highlighting for safety’s sake, quote:
“Between Middlewich Big Lock 75 and Lodge Lane, Bridge 213 Preston Brook
Tuesday 25 September 2012 until further notice
UPDATE (11 October 2012): Trent & Mersey Canal Breach - Manchester Ship Canal Passages.
We have now been able to finalise the approach that we want to take in enabling people to complete their journeys where these have been interrupted by the breach on the Trent & Mersey Canal which, for most, will involve the use of the Manchester Ship Canal and Weaver.
There are some significant constraints that we need to consider, not least of which is the commencement of stoppage works around the network on the 5th November as well as the need for boats to be surveyed for seaworthiness and paperwork completed for the Manchester Ship Canal Company.
To enable people to get back to their home moorings/ journey end in the wider network, we are going to prioritise those boats currently within the isolated section on the Trent & Mersey Canal, and with the furthest to travel or most stoppages to pass first of all.
There are no stoppages planned on the Cheshire Ring before Christmas, but the stoppages planned for the Shropshire Union Canal south of Barbridge will need to commence on time as will the stoppage at Northgate Locks. Provided that people wishing to travel into the isolated section are below Northgate Locks by the 5th November, their final return will not be affected by stoppages – although it is our intention to facilitate movements earlier than this.
We are going to focus on moving people to/ from the network via Ellesmere Port. A number of people that we have talked with have expressed concern about using the ship canal and we acknowledge that this can be an intimidating environment, especially for first time users.
The trip to Ellesmere Port from Marsh Lock can be completed in less than 3 hours; travel to Manchester via Pomona Docks involves the transit of a number of locks and takes much longer. There is the potential for groups to become separated too all of which makes that a far more daunting proposition. It is our belief that by prioritising movement in the way that is outlined here people will have time to complete their journeys, and the reverse route around the Cheshire Ring. Of course, if people want to take the route via Pomona Docks they are free to do so and can arrange this privately with the Manchester Ship Canal organisation. The Trust has agreed to fund the cost of the seaworthiness survey and admission at Ellesmere Port.
Our expectation will be to undertake surveys each Monday for boats in the next group to travel with a view to passage on the Wednesday or Thursday. This will start on Monday 15th October. If you are one of the people who’s craft needs surveying we may ask you to move your boat to a central point so that we can maximise the numbers of boats surveyed at once. The survey will require you to demonstrate that you have the minimum safety equipment required for the journey – anchor, ropes, life jackets.
You will be given some documentation that is required for your journey and asked to sign for receipt of this too. If you do not hold the minimum equipment we would ask you to try and obtain this before the survey takes place. We will have access to some equipment that can be loaned, but that stock is limited.
Manchester Ship Canal Company will also need to see a copy of your third party insurance certificate and we will collect that at the time of the survey, this is a requirement of the passage. We will also need confirmation that you have a current Boat Safety Scheme certificate at the time of the survey, however we will not need to take away a copy of this. The certification that you receive will be restricted in its use to daylight hours, and passage between Ellesmere Port and Marsh Lock.
We know that it has been frustrating for people waiting for these arrangements to come together and we thank people for their patience during this time. If you have any concerns about the information outlined above please contact us. We are starting to contact those that have been in touch with us in the last couple of weeks today.
Please contact the Red Bull Office on 01782 785703 for any queries.”
So basically, in simple terms, CART are going to pay for boat safety checks for those unfortunate boaters who are trapped. Some of whom do not feel confident enough to make the journey, & are not prepared for. Yet have no choice but to follow a potentially dangerous route along the Manchester ship canal.
Documents will have to be signed (required for the journey), yet minimum safety equipment (when there isn’t enough to go round) is acceptable.
BSC & Insurance documents will have to be checked. Fair enough. Now assuming everyone has those, I’m not one to be the harbinger of doom & gloom. But god forbid IF something were to happen. With minimal / loaned equipment of which there is a shortfall, would a boaters insurance company pay up? Loopholes are too easy to find.
There’s one thing for certain, it won’t be covered by the Manchester Ship Canal Company OR CART. [YOU signed the document]
Perhaps if BW had heeded boaters warnings about the potential for a breach on that section of the T&M, & done something about it a couple of years ago, they wouldn’t have to put boats & their owners at risk now.
Tell you what, I’d be checking through the details of the small print on that signed “contract” & asking a hell of a lot of questions before putting my boat in gear…