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Monday, March 19, 2018

Consequences of the Middlewich breach

It is inevitable that some owners of shares in boats stuck on the drained section of the Middlewich Canal will lose part of their planned boating holiday following the breach there.  That may be less of a problem for a managed boat, as the management company may be able to make special arrangements, such as using weeks allocated to unsold shares on another boat.  I'm sure many syndicates would also be happy to help with that in these circumstances.

Ownerships used to have a scheme whereby 'spare weeks' on most of the boats they managed could be used to cope with such emergencies and allow owners to have their holiday even if their own boat was out of commission.  When this possibility was raised at syndicate meetings following the collapse of Ownerships, most of the ones I attended did not support the continuation of such an arrangement.  Some boat insurance policies may provide for the cost of a hire boat in such circumstances.

Picture from Canal & River Trust website.
There is no quick fix for the Middlewich breach, so some share owners are going to have to re-think their trips to avoid it.  Of the 240 shared ownership narrowboats on the canal network, more than a third have their bases on or near the Four Counties Ring and they will be the ones most directly affected.

Changing the planned trip may well be easier for shared ownership boats, as a 'remote exchange'  - handing over the boat to the next owners somewhere other than at their base mooring - is quite a common occurrence anyway.  It's one of the ways share owners can extend their trips and avoid having to turn round and come back over the same stretch in order to reach their base.  It involves reaching an agreement with the owners on board immediately before and after and it requires moving cars from base to base, but it is not difficult to find a boatyard or marina that's used to doing turnround checks on shared boats.  It's always best to arrange this in advance - and it may be necessary to do the handover on a different day, especially if the marina is already helping to facilitate turnrounds for hire boat fleets affected by the breach, as we know some are.


The latest updates from the Canal & River Trust are here.

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