Hey, if you’re a geek you know you’re a geek; but in case you didn’t know it a gongoozler is someone who enjoys watching boats. Are you one of those? Are you enthralled by the workings of a lock and intrigued by the operation of a swing bridge? Here are some of the lesser known rules of the Cut for anyone who considers themselves a sort of ‘train spotter’ of the canals.
On some inland waterways you may find buoys, red cans and green cones marking out a channel. Allowing your boat to stray out of the channel can be quite risky, especially if you are near a weir. (Weirs usually have warning signs as you approach.) So a boater should keep the red cans to their right if heading downstream, and the green cones to their left. The red markers should be on the left if you’re travelling upstream.
As a rule, most canal boats do not cruise at night as poor visibility makes it more difficult to navigate. However if you run an evening trip boat for example you may need to become familiar with navigations lights, which are white, green and red, and allow you to interpret the movements of an approaching boat in the dark.
Did you know there are a specific set of sound signals set out in The Boaters Handbook? Professional skippers may well be familiar with them, but your average boater does not seem to know that “4 blasts-pause-2 blasts” actually means, “I am turning round to the left!” The one horn signal that all boaters are familiar with is a simple long blast when approaching a blind bend, junction or tunnel. It simply means “LOOK OUT! I am approaching and I am on my BOAT!”
If you yearn to get involved and yet don’t actually own a boat then community boating could be for you. Community boating organisations bring disadvantaged people onto the waterways who would not otherwise have access to them, and they increase the range of educational, cultural and recreational activities available both afloat and ashore.
The NCBA can put you in touch with your nearest community boating projects, and we also provide a variety of training courses. You could start with a boat handling course or National Community Boats Association Certificate in Community Boat Management (CCBM). Click here to find out more.
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