Thursday, 26 September 2013

Changes to qualifying criteria for 2014 RCR Cruising Challenge trophy

Intrepid travellers keen to win the 2014 River Canal Rescue Cruising Challenge trophy (recognising the most enterprising non-continuous journey) can log journeys undertaken since the last Inland Waterway Association Festival rather than wait until the usual ‘beginning of year’ qualifying period.
RCR and the IWA have given entrants more time to log journeys to encourage greater exploration of the UK waterway system, particularly useful as participants receive additional points if they visit lesser-used waterways and reach distant end-of-navigations and inland tidal sections.
In a further change, anyone attending the Festival and submitting their log in person, with or without boat, is eligible to enter.  In the past, only those turning up with their craft could apply.
River Canal Rescue Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “In previous years the timescales have been limited, making the more inaccessible parts of the system difficult to visit.  By extending the qualifying period from one Festival to another we’re providing entrants with greater flexibility when it comes to route planning, plus we’re opening the competition up to a wider audience.”
The only restriction for the RCR Cruising Challenge Trophy is that no section of canal or river may be counted more than once in the same direction in the same calendar month.  Entrants are required to supply a full cruising log at the 2014 IWA Festival, showing miles and locks, which must be supported with evidence (photographic or otherwise) of reaching key destinations during the cruise.  Judges will consider the log presentation and the overall cruise content, rather than the longest journey.
The qualifying period for the other two RCR-sponsored trophies; the Robert Aickman Challenge (most enterprising journey) and AP Herbert (longest journey) remains around eight weeks before the summer Festival and boat travel to the event is required when submitting logs.  RCR will continue to give away a year’s free gold, silver and bronze memberships to the three trophy winners.
To find out more visit or contact Paul Chilvers, IWA Festival Awards Officer on 07774 164413.

2014 boat and engine maintenance courses

River Canal Rescue has announced dates for its 2014 boat and engine maintenance courses.  Run once a month from January to October at Alvechurch Marina near Birmingham, topics covered include; diesel engines, transmissions, boat plumbing, boat electrics, lay-up and refit procedures.
The courses combine theory with practical demonstrations and participation and are ideal for owners keen to learn more about basic boat engine maintenance and electric systems.   A two-day, weekend course costs £100 and is run by Keith Duffy (ex RCR engineer) and Howard Williams (electrical specialist).
2014 dates; 18-19 January,  15-16 February, 22-23 March, 12-13 April, 17-18 May, 12-13 July, 16-17 August, 13-14 September and 25-26 October.

Additional courses can be run to meet demand either at Alvechurch Marina or a boat clubhouse.  

To find out more visit email  or call  01785 785680.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Stuck Fast

River Canal Rescue was recently called out to help Jane Pollard, ‘About Time’ owner, after her boat got caught on the cill of lock 9w on the Huddersfield Canal.   The freak accident occurred as she was part way though leaving the lock, the boat became caught on the front sill, and unable to reverse, the bow quickly became stuck and within minutes the vessel was starting to take on water in the stern.  Jane ran around the lock roping the boat to secure it, and following the quick arrival of the Canal & River Trust (who emptied the pounds above the lock), the boat finally came to rest at a 45 degree angle with the bow wedged in the entrance and the stern on the bottom of the lock.

Jane, her friend and dog evacuated ‘About Time’.  They realised that due to the lock position (one mile from any road access), the lock width and position of the boat, the waterway would need to be closed and a specialist team brought in.
Initially a local contractor attempted to refloat the boat, but this was stopped on health and safety grounds.  The following day, with the approval of C & RT, RCR’s team started work.  The boat’s inlets were sealed and a canvas ‘bag’ was strung over the stern to deflect water from entering the vessel.  Pumps were placed on board to pump out any water that did get in and the vessel was secured by distributing the load over the bollards.

After four hours of gentle persuasion (and a five-man team), the boat was successfully refloated, moved to a secure location and towed back to Portland basin for repairs and dry out.
RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, comments: “This was a technically difficult and challenging rescue; there was no access for cranes and no other options…in fact only a helicopter might have helped. C&RT later reported they found an obstruction wedged in the paddles which may have caused the issue.”
Despite the ordeal, Jane is full of praise for RCR, the C& RT and her insurers, Haven Knox Johnson: “This was a very complicated situation, but thankfully no one was hurt and the boat is structurally sound.  Everyone involved was amazing and I’m full of praise for them all.”

Sunday, 8 September 2013

RCR-sponsored trophy winners go that extra mile

At this year’s Watford-based IWA Festival, River Canal Rescue sponsored three trophies; the new RCR Cruising Challenge (most enterprising non-continuous journey), Robert Aickman Challenge (most enterprising journey), and AP Herbert (longest journey). The waterway assistance firm also gave away a year’s free gold, silver and bronze membership to the three winners.
When deciding who will win the accolades, the judges consider a number of criteria.  These include; duration of the cruise and overall distance covered from their mooring to the Festival, waterways visited and the respective limits of navigation reached, river navigations used by canal craft, tidal crossings and presentation of a cruising log.  Entrants are awarded points and extra marks are given to boaters who reach rarely-visited inland waterways.
The RCR Cruising Challenge trophy was won by David and Sylvia Jarvis on their 46 ft narrowboat ‘Orchid II’.   Together with Collie, Tess, they completed three non-continuous journeys, covering 748 lock miles, from the middle of May to the Festival date.  Stage one involved leaving their mooring in Banbury on the Oxford Canal, making their way to the River Trent and navigating the potentially perilous Trent Falls, before joining the River Ouse.  David comments: “You need to plan carefully for this trip, go in company and get help as it can get very tricky.”
Stage two was a trip via the Humber Estuary and Ouse to reach the rarely-cruised Pocklington canal, (not surprising as in order to reach the Pocklington Canal the intrepid duo spent two hours with a small saw hacking their way through a fallen tree blocking their route) and stage three, navigating Yorkshire’s River Derwent to Stamford Bridge.  ‘Orchid II’ was the fifth non-local boat to visit the Upper Derwent this year.
David concludes: “We were delighted to win the trophy and are grateful to RCR for the effort they make in encouraging people to use the waterways.”
The Robert Aickman trophy was won by Michael and Denise Bending after they travelled some 590 continuous lock miles to Watford’s Cassiobury Park on the Grand Union Canal from their mooring in Kings Bromley Marina, Staffordshire.  From 23 May to 17 July, they navigated the Trent & Mersey Canal, Coventry and Oxford Canals, the Thames from the end of navigation at Lechlade down to Brentford and from there to Watford on the Grand Union Canal, visiting the Basingstoke Canal on the way.
Mike advises their 57ft narrowboat ‘Densie’ was among the first visiting boats to reach the end of navigation of the Basingstoke canal in recent times.  The Canal had been unusable for four years and was re-opened at Easter after the restoration of the main flight of locks.  However, a landslip caused a blockage four miles before the end of the navigation.  Luckily for the Bendings, the Canal opened fully at the end of June, in time for their visit.
Commenting on their win, Mike said: “We were surprised, delighted and proud to receive the trophy – particularly as it dates back to the 1950s.  We’re also very pleased with the prize of a year’s free RCR subscription.”
The third trophy, AP Herbert (longest journey), was won by John and Nancy Harman on their 63 ft narrowboat ‘Perfect Harmony’.   Festival Award Officer, Paul Chilvers, explained why they were given the accolade: “Their longest journey was 576 lock miles covering the Kennet and Avon Canal from Reading to Bristol and back again.  They continued onto the River Wey to Godalming (the most southerly point of the waterway network) and then navigated the tidal Thames through London to Watford.  The Longest Journey trophy is given to an entrant who hasn’t won one of the other awards.”   

RCR Managing Director, Stephanie Horton, concludes: “It’s important we recognise and reward boat owners who undertake what in some cases, can be arduous journeys.  These award categories fit well with our ethos which is to support people, whatever their journey.”