Sunday 23 January 2011

The Continuous Cruising myth

That Continuous Cruisers are the main culprits when it comes to overstaying on visitors moorings is a myth that BW continue to perpetuate in order to justify differential charges and other targeting of Continuous Cruisers.

Many Boaters in the boating forums rail about Continuous Cruisers in this way too. I was therefore very relieved when a glimmer of reality pierced through the prejudice and outright bigotry one too often reads in such forums when one contributor bothered asking the question, "what's the evidence"?

The answer is, NONE!

Beyond that, when challenged, the evidence BW have supplied to date, seems to prove that very point!

As I said in my posting in the Canalworld string "Freeloaders?",

NABO did a Freedom Of Information request on this a few years back. We wanted to test the assertion that CC'r's are more guilty on overstaying than those with moorings. We asked BW about numbers of patrol notices issued and then asked them to look at the proportion of those notices that were issued against boats that had home moorings versus those that were Continuous Cruisers. The maths showed clearly that boats that had registered with BW as having home moorings we more likely per capita to attract overstay notices than CC'rs.

BW have never attempted to contradict our findings which
were sent to them with an invite to reply if they dis-agreed or could show we had missed something. Another bit of NABO correspondence they never replied to! 

Well catching up with old e-mails this morning, I came across a more recent set of evidence which seem to further confirm that BW's rhetoric on Continuous Cruisers is just that, and does not stand up, even on with their own figures.

The Western end of the Kennet and Avon seems to be the focus for BW's efforts at the moment and a boater's Freedom of Information Request in Autumn 2010 again put paid to the false prospectus that BW are running.

BW says , 'The number of boats on the Kennet and Avon Canal which have legal action pending – 152'. When one come to BW's categorisation of the individual reasons we are told:

Licensing Enforcement – 119;
Mooring Enforcement – 15;
Overstay Enforcement – 7;
Continuous Cruising Enforcement – 8
Other – 3

If eight of the cases are classed as CC'rs does that mean the seven listed as Overstayers have home moorings? If so then again we see that boats with home moorings are as much of a problem a CC'rs.

Even if in slightly self-contradictory fashion, one assumed the seven 'Overstayers' were all CC'rs too, does the fuss and drama BW are making over the evils of continuous cruisers seem proportionate to the fact  that BW can only show, on their own numbers, most generously interpreted, fifteen serious breaches of the 'rules' worthy of legal action on the K+A?

(The next question, one that was not asked but one wonders; how many of these fifteen cases are solid enough for Court proceedings to have been issued?)

The BW numbers seem to me to show pretty clearly that most Continuous Cruisers based on the Kennet and Avon are doing what they should be and that BW's rhetoric cannot be about enforcement issues. Rather it seems to be an excuse to introduce differential charges and other sanction against Continuous Cruisers based on a rhetoric of prejudice which even BW's own facts and figures do not support.BW are basing a whole campaign of activities on a false premise. No wonder BW are in a mess when idiocy like this is allowed to prevail, apparently with the endorsement of the BW Board and Directors.

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