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Boat Blog: Goodbye to Limehouse…

Posted by indigodream on 11 April, 2014

Tuesday March 31st

Limehouse Basin shortly after we moved into our new berth in July 2010 :-)

Limehouse Basin shortly after we moved into our new berth in July 2010 πŸ™‚

And it is “Goodbye” not “au revoir” – today we have given up our mooring at Limehouse Basin and have become rootless vagabonds – for 6 months at least, after that, we’ll see….

Increasingly over the last year, we feel that BWML has been pursuing a policy of providing less service for more money – from a customer point of view, this is an untenable business model, but they obviously feel that there will be enough people interested in this offering to make it worthwhile. I emphasise that this is at a policy level, the local managers have always been very helpful.

It’s difficult to enumerate all our reasons for leaving, but here are some key points:

  • A Grade 2 mooring (non-residential) was “sold” to us (many years ago) as being allowed to stay up to four nights a week on board. On occasions we’ve needed this flexibility e.g. when joining early-morning convoys. The new rules state that we are not allowed any overnight staysΒ  – but they assured us that we could move the boat to the towpath wall (not good for hounds) if ever we needed to stay over!
  • During the winter months (November to March), the proposal is that Grade 2 moorers may only access the marina if they have made prior arrangements with the marina office. When we applied for our key fob we automatically asked for 24/7 access but have no idea what we actually got!
  • All these terms would be enforceable by a new electronic key fob access by which the marina office could monitor your movements in and out of the marina. Security is a fine thing, but we feel that Big Brother (in the 1984 sense rather than prurient reality TV) is a step too far.
  • The mooring fees for new entrants are astounding – and are the same for all grades. Being an existing contract, we think we didn’t have to face a doubling of our mooring fees, but the Customer Service Manager could not be bothered to reply to our emails so we can’t be certain that our fees would not double at some point, the advertised 2% rise turned out to be a 5% rise , which was painful enough!
  • Standards of maintenance are slipping e.g. the handrails to the entrance ramp were badly corroded to the extent of being dangerous; after months of complaints and broken promises they were eventually replaced with a shoddy version which had large gaps through which a dog or child could have easily fallen into the water; despite repeated complaints, these were not made safe for several months (not until March, in fact). Unsafe is unsafe, but we might have been less upset if we’d only been paying tuppence ha’penny for the mooring! Oh and it is still a shoddy job even though as far as we can work out Limehouse is the most expensive marina on the canal system.
The start of the construction work to add mooring pontoons for the Olympics...

The start of the construction work to add mooring pontoons for the Olympics…

So, with our contract ending today, we’ve decided not to renew – Richard went up to Limehouse this afternoon to fill the water tank, give the boat a good wash and move her onto the wall as our odyssey was not due to start until the Saturday. We had considered paying the visitor mooring fee to stay on our berth for a few more days, but the fee is now Β£3.50 per metre per day – we’re 18 metres – you do the maths!

We are the third boat that we know of that has left following the recent correspondence from BWML. It looked like there were 20 or so vacant spots across the marina, granted some of them could be waiting for a boat to appear but we have never seen 9 vacant spots on our pontoon.

Our decision to move is not without sadness, we’ve always loved it at Limehouse, and although we’re not residential, we’ve always felt as if we’re part of the community tucked away on the “dog” pontoon with the other narrowboaters. We will miss our Limehouse friends and, indeed, our London friends – we’re planning to go north out of London this year – to Birmingham for the BCN Marathon Challenge for the end of May then who knows…..

In other news……

The wonders of social media: As if to remind us of the perils of mooring on the towpath, on Thursday night I got a message on Facebook from Amy of nb Willow alerting me to a photograph of Indigo Dream which had been posted on the “London Boater’s” wall. Indigo Dream’s bow was adrift and halfway across Limehouse Cut. In the meantime, another of our boating friends messaged me via Twitter to let me know. If I understand the timeline, the photo was posted at 7.30pm – Richard was up there before 9pm and Indigo Dream was saved πŸ™‚ We had tied the front to one of those mysterious loops of rope that a previous boater had attached to the pilings (you see them all over the network) – that loop had frayed and broken – possibly yanked loose by a speedy passer-by – there were no signs of vandalism – phew! So, thanks to all those boaters who were kind enough to let us know that Indigo Dream was adrift – who know what might have happened if she’d ended up wedged across the cut! We did speculate whether this was the marina’s revenge – showing us how vulnerable we were outside the secure locked down world of the pontoons….:-)

A view across the "new" pontoons at Limehouse - gradually filling up with new moorers..

A view across the “new” pontoons at Limehouse – gradually filling up with moorers..

Charlie Flowers RIP: In February we had the shocking news that one of our Limehouse neighbours, Charlie Flowers, had been found dead in the water beneath his boat. We don’t know the circumstances of his death, but we assume it was accidental, as he had great zest for life. I didn’t know him well enough to write a eulogy, but I was immensely saddened by the news because he seemed to be such a kind man and a true soul of the waterways. He was always friendly and welcoming, in the most irreverent way, and our abiding memory is of Charlie spotting us from the towpath on the Regent’s canal and halting his journey home to lockwheel us down the last 5 locks or so. He was a dog lover and had an ancient arthritic GSD called Mully – another gentle soul of the waterway. I’m pleased to say that Mully, aged 12, has been adopted by an ex-Limehouse resident and has now moved to the West Country, where he’s apparently happy living the good life.

BSS: When we renewed our licence in January, CRT helpfully reminded us that out BSS was due – gosh that came round quickly! We asked Andrew Phasey to do the inspection again, he’s very thorough and if he’s done the inspection, you know your boat is safe πŸ™‚ On this occasion, he was mentoring a new inspector, so the boat had an extra-thorough going over! She failed on a few small items, soon rectified, though one was something that’s been the same on the boat since she was built and never commented on before. So we’re now canal and river-worthy for another – hmm, three or four years, I can never remember….

I think that’s the catch-up done. The odyssey starts on Saturday 5th April – if all goes well, it will be a big one so it will be boating posts all the way; only joking, Henry and Archie Beanz have plans to join us a LOT over the summer – there will be dog blogs aplenty πŸ™‚



8 Responses to “Boat Blog: Goodbye to Limehouse…”

  1. Sue and Richard – very sorry to hear of your trials and tribulations with BWML. They have a new MD now – Jeff Whyatt. There’s very good marinas around here – Kingfisher (Yardley Gobion), Blisworth and Gayton and just a bit further up the cut towards Buckby there are a few more. Hope you manage to sort things out. Thinking of you.


  2. carrie said

    Sounds like Limehouse marina is shooting itself in the foot, making a hostile environment for lovely boaters like yourselves. I hope you enjoy heading north, the weather is with you now πŸ™‚

  3. indigodream said

    The nice thing is that we no longer have trials and tribulations – leaving the marina has saved us all of that bother! We’re happy to be continuous cruisers for now πŸ˜€

  4. Capt Ahab said

    See you in Brum

  5. Kristel said

    Happy travelling and hope everything goes well with your voyage North.

  6. indigodream said

    Kristel – thanks – you’ll read all about it! Ty is NOT impressed – at this rate we may need to get him a weekend house-sitter – he does hate boating :-p

    Captain A – I certainly hope we see you in Brum – are you taking part in the Marathon Challenge this year?

  7. Halfie said

    I think BSC is valid for four years.

  8. indigodream said

    Yes, the BSC date is to 2018 so 4 years (I also had to check!)


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