Log in
Article search:

Q & A

Boating Etiquette

On a recent trip on the Shropshire Union Canal I intended to wind in a small winding hole in the woods just outside Norbury Junction. I indicated my intention to a following boat and to one some distance away coming in the opposite direction. I began my turn. The boat behind slowed to allow my turn and as I completed it the boat that had been coming the other way suddenly appeared alongside me passing at a fair rate of knots.
I was unable to speak to the skipper of the boat as I was fully employed trying to steady my boat which had been pushed across the canal into the mouth of the winding hole by his wash, he obviously had no intention of slowing down.
The skipper of the boat that was behind me remonstrated with him but received a severe finger wagging and I later learned was told in no uncertain terms that " he had right of way and it was my place to wait in the winding hole for him to go past, I was in the wrong and he had every right to pass at the speed he did"
Both myself and the skipper of the boat that had remonstrated with him were rendered speechless by his attitude and rudeness.
I would be interested to learn if there are any hard and fast rules regarding winding and rights of way. I have always waited for boats to turn and in the 20 plus years I have been boating boats have always waited for me unless I have called them through.
I have always prided myself on my canal etiquette and would hate to think I was doing something wrong------AM I WRONG.

Asked by: Robert Cowling   | 10.02am, Friday 13 May

WW says:

No you are not wrong. It does sound like very bad manners on his part, with the phrase "barging through" springing to mind!
It is generally courteous to wait or slow right down while a boat is turning in a winding hole; to give them plenty of water space. It is usually completely necessary, as whilst the boat is at or near right angles to the canal, passage is effectively blocked. Turning a boat can be a difficult manoeuvre at the best of times and, unless the winding hole is familiar, can be a bit of an unknown quantity especially with a full length boat.
In the few instances of a very short boat or a generous winding hole a waiting boat can be waved past when there is room, but this is generally the exception rather than the rule and completely at the discretion of the skipper. There is nothing in the CRT boaters' handbook, especially as to his assertion that he had right of way. It rather sounds like an impatient boater who did not want to be held up.

Rupert Smedley  | 1.04PM, Friday 13 May

I thoroughly agree with Rupert.

Graham Booth  | 8.53PM, Friday 13 May

And I agree as well. Sounds like the other boater should consider whether the pace of life on the canals is appropriate to them!

Mark Langley  | 10.11AM, Saturday 14 May

You must log in to post an answer.