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Hire and enjoy Till the boaters kill the dream

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13 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

the contrast in attitude to me from other boaters

Not just other boaters.  The staff lock keeper, at Avon Lock, actually apologised to me when she realised that my boat was an ex-ABC and that I actually owned it!  The fact that I deftly steered her in to the lock, off of that obtuse angle that you encounter when going downstream, should have been testament to my skill and should have been irrelevant to my tenure of the vessel...

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19 minutes ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

I think the Rochdale Canal, for example, would be closed most of the time if it weren't for the Shire Cruisers hire fleet.

Probably so, but I've not had any  problem with them. They seem to have a bit of skill by the time they get further up the hill. Bronte dayboats are a bit more "worrying", no time to acquire skill. 

Once did Piccadilly to Slattocks in a day sharing with a competently crewed hire boat. We were in our Dawncraft 22, I wouldn't share unless I was confident about the other boats crew. 

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We hire, we know what we are doing mostly but have only encountered that sort of snobbery on about two occasions. 

There are plonkers everywhere, the cut is no exception

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9 hours ago, Mike Tee said:

I am aware that much of that was probably done for theatrical effect,

I thought most of it was done because he couldn't steer properly and look after Pru at the same time, but there you are.

9 hours ago, nicknorman said:

we welcome sharing locks etc with hire boats, who are typically on holiday,  happy, friendly and enthusiastic

 

Exactly what I was going to say. Hirers are in "holiday mood" and tend to be determinedly friendly (especially here, oop Norf, anyway). 

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7 hours ago, nicknorman said:

But it is not just CRT who benefit, it is a number of canalside businesses too. Whilst the holidaying hire boater is enjoying a slap up meal in the canalside pub, and paying handsomely for it, the curmudgeonly private owner is sitting in their boat illuminated by a single bare white led light eating from a tin of beans heated on their stove, grumpily chuntering over all the annoying other boats he has encountered who did things slightly differently from the way he would have done it and cursing them for it. Desperate to be having the time of his life but failing miserably.

That's one point of view, but I have heard others.

 

For example the landord at the Rising Sun, Berkhamsted, (usually known as "the Riser"), an excellent canalside pub, tells a very different story.

He says that he gets almost no trade from passing hire boats, and that they are far more likely to stock up with food and chaep booze at the local supermarket, and set up a barbecue canal-side.

On the other hand much of his regular trade, (and all year around not just summer) comes from local live-aboard boaters, who may be in there any times a week.

 

So like many of these things, there are two sides to every story, I guess.

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8 hours ago, colmac said:

Just idle curiosity, I presume the hire companies pay the appropriate license fee for each boat and the appropriate fee for use of their bases. I imagine therefore that CRT make a shed load of money, especially from Black Prince and the other big companies. I suppose someone with a better grasp of numbers then I could actually sit down and work it out based on the number of boats owned by each company although why anyone would want to is beyond me so scrub round that one methinks.

 

7 hours ago, nicknorman said:

Yes hire boat licence fees are a lot more than leisure licence fees.


Unless it has changed drastically in very recent years the licence fee charged for a hire boat is, I think, rather less than double what is charged for a private boat of the same length.

 

The last I knew the licence fee for an entire year cost rather less than many hire companies were charging for a single weeks hire in peak season.

I actually think this is a very good deal for the hire companies, and not a particularly good deal for CRT.

I suggest most hie boats go through far more than twice as many locks or travel at least twice the distance covered by an "average" privately owned boat in a year.

(And yes, I know the concept of an "average" privately owned boat is a very odd one).

I'm not trying to make any particular point, other than I think that when some hire boat operators suggest they are doing massive amounts for CRT coffers, they are actually being rather economical with the truth!

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1 hour ago, alan_fincher said:

(snip)
I'm not trying to make any particular point, other than I think that when some hire boat operators suggest they are doing massive amounts for CRT coffers, they are actually being rather economical with the truth!

Do CaRT come to the same business arrangement with hire fleets as Scottish Canals do? i.e. a percentage of turnover.

(The reason the hire fleets on the Forth and Clyde are now managed by Scottish Canals, rather than by privaye or charitable enterprise! )

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Someone once said to me .....

"Don't be tempted into road rage, if you think another driver is a being a selfish, boorish, arse then the chances are everybody else crossing their path will think so too."

It wasn't long after that I realised the same advice applied to: -

* Pedestrians

* Those in the same queue as you

* Fellow passengers on your train/plane/bus

* Other customers at the bar or the next table to you in a restaurant

* Work colleagues you find yourself to be within striking distance of for far too many hours five days a week.

... and of course those you stumble across on't cut.

The secret is not to think it is incumbent upon you to point out to them the error of their ways.  

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2 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

That's one point of view, but I have heard others.

 

For example the landord at the Rising Sun, Berkhamsted, (usually known as "the Riser"), an excellent canalside pub, tells a very different story.

He says that he gets almost no trade from passing hire boats, and that they are far more likely to stock up with food and chaep booze at the local supermarket, and set up a barbecue canal-side.

On the other hand much of his regular trade, (and all year around not just summer) comes from local live-aboard boaters, who may be in there any times a week.

 

So like many of these things, there are two sides to every story, I guess.

Bang on the nail. As you know I have much experience of canal side business and hire fleets. A routine occurence on changeover days is the arrival of several supermarket delivery vans. If its a single sex party of 10 ish there is usualy enough stuff including a dozen or often many more cases of fizzy lager. Most deliveries are enough to pile on to a pallet to a height of about four feet and sometimes more. Families often have large food deliveries and visit canal side venues very rarely.

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On the subject of the cost of hiring, and this is anecdotal rather than a formal survey, it seems to be the more “budget” (and I don’t just mean smaller) operators that have gone to the wall, at least round here: Claymoore, Middlewich Boats, [email protected] Passing through Middlewich on a regular basis over many summers, Middlewich Boats would regularly have several boats tied up idle midweek, but Andersen, whose boats are always absolutely immaculately turned out, regularly had none at all. Perhaps there isn’t much of a market for budget hiring any more?

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39 minutes ago, AndrewIC said:

Perhaps there isn’t much of a market for budget hiring any more?

By the time you are paying more than a year's licence fee per week, there is no such thing as budget hire.

 

I do understand why the fleets need to charge as they do, but it's far from a cheap holiday, even at the lower end of the market.

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2 hours ago, mrsmelly said:

Bang on the nail. As you know I have much experience of canal side business and hire fleets. A routine occurence on changeover days is the arrival of several supermarket delivery vans. If its a single sex party of 10 ish there is usualy enough stuff including a dozen or often many more cases of fizzy lager. Most deliveries are enough to pile on to a pallet to a height of about four feet and sometimes more. Families often have large food deliveries and visit canal side venues very rarely.

Even if a hire party, which is often a lot larger than a typical liveaboard crew,  eats out "many times a week" they still need food for breakfast and for other lunch/dinners, and some drinks.    So it isn't really surprising that they start the week with a reasonable amount of supplies.   I suspect the position with pubs is at least partly dependent on their relative distance from hire bases.  And how friendly they appear to passing canal trade - given that (unlike local liveaboards) hirers will have no idea of the food/drink on offer.

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We really enjoy helping someone who us obviously finding if hard to work out what they should ge doing, or teaching anyone really. Hence, we would be much worse off if everyone had to pass a degree in boating before being let out on their own. I can still remember sone of the hashes we made of manoeuvres on our first hire trip over 50 years ago! Moored boaters were mo st sympathetic and contributed much to our learning curve.

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7 minutes ago, Mike Todd said:

We really enjoy helping someone who us obviously finding if hard to work out what they should ge doing, or teaching anyone really. Hence, we would be much worse off if everyone had to pass a degree in boating before being let out on their own. I can still remember sone of the hashes we made of manoeuvres on our first hire trip over 50 years ago! Moored boaters were mo st sympathetic and contributed much to our learning curve.

I like to think of it as the Rolt vs Aickman split in the IWA.

 

Rolt liked the life and the boats and the boat people.

 

Aickman liked the idea of bringing arts and culture to the waterways, but didn't like the peasants who occupied the boats.

 

For what it's worth, I am with Rolt.  I like people who boat - even if they don't know what they are doing - far more than I like the snobs who want to keep the canals as a private trainset for the "right" sort of people.

 

I enjoy teaching neophytes how to work locks ... but I hate seeing people who have "been boating for 38 years you know" putting themselves and others at risk.  And I seem to meet more of the eejits than the novices.

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Oh goodness... I own two narrowboats, am a complete novice with no training (fell to sleep part way through trying to read the boater's handbook - no reflection on the literary merits, just far too busy/tiring a life). First journey I went straight into a lovely NB with Japanese style roof garden (complete with very sinkable looking stone Buddhas and so forth) - hopped off when eventually managed to stop and ran down the tow path to apologise... quite possibly still holding the gear level which had come off in my hand leaving me no way to get out of 'forward', let alone use 'astern' to stop!

I'm pretty sure most hire boats are like my other one (no more complex to steer than a dodgem) and they probably make you watch a training video whilst awake - I'm very pro-hirer! (And agree it is blinking expensive unless you're packing loads of waged ppl in).

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14 hours ago, Bee said:

It has become a Very Expensive hobby. There are two sorts of boaters, the 'haves' and the 'have not's'

 The 'haves' always pay people to do the work and repair everything on the boat (*1), have expensive marina moorings (*2), don't lie awake wondering how to pay for the licence(*3) and therefore have a huge sense of entitlement. The 'have not's' just do the best they can and get on with fixing and painting a somewhat tired boat and scrape the cost of licence, mooring, insurance, maintaining and BSS together. They have a sense of entitlement but smaller than the 'haves' Then there are hireboats,. Nobody likes them. Terrible generalisations but something that is quite common, very British, and not something that I have noticed much of abroad.

Yes they are  "generalisations". 1, 2 and 3 apply to me (1 because I have a disability which while small, limits the use of my right hand). 

 

I am unaware of any sense of entitlement and honestly don't think I have one. I am more than happy to help anyone who asks.

 

Also, my boat (despite being the 2nd most expensive thing which I have ever owned) is not shinny at all. Admittedly I am retired but that's because I got to retirement age and it seemed to be the logical thing to do - not because I wanted to annoy anyone.

 

🙂

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1 minute ago, frahkn said:

I have a disability which while small, limits the use of my right hand

Me too.  My middle right finger automatically flips up at people who annoy me ...

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9 minutes ago, TheBiscuits said:

Me too.  My middle right finger automatically flips up at people who annoy me ...

My disability doesn't prevent that but it is a bit slow,  often the offender is out of sight - handy if it's Mike Tyson but annoying in many cases.

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Statistics show hire boaters spend a lot more than private boaters - anecdotal evidence doesn't override that and often falls into the same category as "white van man" tales - you notice one white van man jump the lights so obviously they all do it because you don't notice the fifty who obey the law.

 

A publican isn't going to notice the private boaters who don't eat in his pub, and is making assumptions about the hire boaters who don't stop. What someone notices and what is happening are not the same thing - you don't see the whole picture. The local boater in the local pub noticed by the local from the village versus the hire boater off to the gastropub in the next village down the canal that featured in *The Times* last week - there is snobbery at work there too as many observers think the gastropub in the next village somehow doesn't count when it comes to tourists spending money. 

 

 

As for prejudice towards other boaters it's not just hire boaters, I've had snooty shiney boaters tell me Juno won't fit in Bradford lock when not only will it fit I have let them go in first! 

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Always found hirers to be happy people wreathed in smiles. What's not to like? Had to give up my boat 😭 a few years ago and the wife and I were thinking of hiring this year but a quick look showed that I have no realistic prospect of affording it. It would have been interesting.

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22 hours ago, colmac said:

Hired for a few years and didn't experience any of the prejudices mentioned here. We have owned our boat for 7 years now and, like the majority of us, make no distinction between hirers or anybody else. You should be judged by your actions not the name on your boat. We have shared wide locks with hirers many times and had no problems, on one occasion with a couple who were very nervous due to lack of experience and had not slept all night worrying about tackling the Hatton flight, we paired up with them and they were only too willing to learn and did a good job.

 

First sensible post on this thread. I don't believe most people really make such distinctions between different types of boaters. I'm afraid those who do on whatever "side" must be fairly narrow minded and are just perpetuating this nonsense. 

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I'd sooner share time with happy hirers than grumpy Harold Shipman lookalikes. I enjoy helping novices and also recognise that many hirers are more experienced and proficient than many private boaters. My advice to any newcomers is not to let others spoil your holiday and just do your best to learn the ropes; we've all been there.

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On the cost of hiring a boat.  For certain it is not cheap, but I don’t believe it is over expensive, and I can’t see any operators making excessive profits from it.

 

We are going on a 4 night break to Centre Parcs soon, something that it would have said is a similar alternative to hiring a boat, and particularly suitable for families as you are not paying per person, similar to boat hire.  I have just looked at hire boat costs for the same week (not school holidays), and for the cost of the Center Parcs accommodation and a couple of activities, you can hire a boat for a week.

 

I would say boat hire is a comparable cost to other similar holidays, at the same time of year.

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44 minutes ago, john6767 said:

On the cost of hiring a boat.  For certain it is not cheap, but I don’t believe it is over expensive, and I can’t see any operators making excessive profits from it.

 

We are going on a 4 night break to Centre Parcs soon, something that it would have said is a similar alternative to hiring a boat, and particularly suitable for families as you are not paying per person, similar to boat hire.  I have just looked at hire boat costs for the same week (not school holidays), and for the cost of the Center Parcs accommodation and a couple of activities, you can hire a boat for a week.

 

I would say boat hire is a comparable cost to other similar holidays, at the same time of year.

While I basically agree, there is a lot more investment by Centre Parcs in structures/equipment etc than any boat hire company.   So a lot more to recoup before you get into making real money.

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