Boating Hazards

Working the Waterways: NarrowBoat, Spring 2022

Christopher M Jones

Chris M. Jones explores some of the numerous difficulties that could beset a cargo-carrying trip

Ideally all boaters wanted an incident- and trouble-free trip and to arrive with all haste, not only to deliver the cargo but to be paid immediately afterwards, as was the custom. With any trip there were opportunities for problems to occur, from catching rubbish around the blades of a propeller to a broken towline. However, there were occasionally more serious hazards which threatened long delays or even the health of the crew. The causes of these were numerous – from the vagaries of the weather to navigational problems, and to delays created by others beyond the boater’s control.Ice and snow The most obvious examples of hazards were created by periods of extreme weather conditions, mainly ice, snow and droughts. Whereas most other delays were usually temporary, those from weather conditions tended to be lengthy and, in extreme circumstances, could run into months. This affected incomes and, consequently, food supplies for both people and animals, plus fuel for heating. …

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