Canal World

Join us absolutely Free in just two minutes to gain access to all our features. Once registered, you will be able to submit new content and get answers to your all your canal & boating questions all for absolutely Free!

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
rog guiver

Wide Beam

56 posts in this topic

I "came across" a wide beam boat in the Savenake tunnel which expected me to reverse out. I thought there was a BW requirement for wide beam boats to contact them before "tunneling". Am I wrong?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not so sure about this one, but I would of thought that..

 

If it's a wide navigation, such as the Bridgewater or Grand Union then yes, they would have to contact BW, or similiar to arrange passage.

 

Check with your local BW yard.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On The Leeds Liverpool (widebeam), Foulridge Tunnel has traffic lights, and I think Horn Blowing is the order of the day at Gannow. I can't see BW coming out every time a wide beam wanted to go through Gannow, there isn't that much traffic. The Bridgewater Canal has no tunnels.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Bridgewater Canal has no tunnels.

The Bridgewater Canal was an example of a wide navigation.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who backed out?

 

Well, as we were not too far into the tunnel when the "light" was observed entering the tunnel the other end we met near the middle. When it became obvious the the "opposition" was wide beamed we stopped and shut the engine off. Received lots of shouting requiring us to back out as they were a special boat. They finally realised that with me talking they could not hear me with their engine running so it was finally shut down.

 

Lots more of the "we always have priority as we are a handicapped trust boat" resulted in me agreeing to back out, but wait for it, the final communication before we started to reverse changed everything. "I don't plan to scrape our boat down the sides in reverse so at the speed we will manage to achieve it will take about an hour, especially with all the poling off the sides"

 

At that point their engine was started and they thundered back down the tunnel in reverse knocking regularly against the sides with us slowly following in the fog generated by their over-revving engine.

 

My knees were knocking when we, on exiting the tunnel, were told we were going to be reported to BW.

 

During all the time we were in the tunnel we pondered as to how we would have handled it. The consensus of opinion was that without involving BW one of us would have walked "over the top" to warn any opposing boats of a wide beam conflict BEFORE they entered the tunnel.

 

And why has they not done that? It turned out that the chap was on his own!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dont know what the offical procedue for this tunnel is, but to me it sounds rediculas to have to get BW to come out everytime a widebeam goes though.

- And even if you where supost to, if i was the widebeam, i wouldnt have rung, its just a waste of BW time and money.

- And then, if you meet half way, although its sort of the widebeams fault, it also sort of makes sence for the NB to reverse, as it has more space. Although obvoulsy if one/other of you is closer to the end, they would go.

- Did you not sound you horn as you began entering? If so, did you not here there's back again?

 

 

Daniel

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Bridgewater Canal was an example of a wide navigation.

 

Apologies, I misunderstood what you meant.

 

I think if it happened to me, I would reverse as GRP cruisers with outboards go where you want in reverse, I dont envy your situation, though. Perhaps if the guy had reversed more slowly then he wouldn't have kept hitting the sides of the tunnel. Perhaps HE should be reported for damage to the tunnel insides??

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies, I misunderstood what you meant.

 

Not to worry - I knew what you meant :rolleyes:

 

I think if it happened to me, I would reverse as GRP cruisers with outboards go where you want in reverse, I dont envy your situation, though. Perhaps if the guy had reversed more slowly then he wouldn't have kept hitting the sides of the tunnel. Perhaps HE should be reported for damage to the tunnel insides??

As Dan says, I also can't see BW coming out every time a wide beamed boat wanted to pass through a tunnel. If it's a wide canal, then it'll be used by both wide beamed boats and narrow beamed boats..

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a horrible experience for you. I too wondered what would happen if we met another boat; is there room to pass etc.

 

No doubt the safest way would be to send someone on foot over the top, and after a short wait you should be certain of an empty tunnel.

 

If you can see the other tunnel mouth, if you waited in the entrance for a while, and no boats appeared, surely it should be empty, at least when you set off.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
it also sort of makes sence for the NB to reverse, as it has more space

 

Most narrowboats do not reverse in a straight line, even at low rpm. Ours doesn't, but for short reverses we use the bow-thruster as a rudder. The use of the bow-thruster was not an option for half the length of the tunnel.

 

The only option (which obviously would have also applied if we didn't have a bow-thruster at all) was to use the pole, in the dark, in a reasonably long tunnel. Everything would have needed to have been done very slowly (safely) as it was in years past, hence my polite comment regarding the time issue following the rantings from the other boat.

 

Did you not sound you horn as you began entering? If so, did you not here there's back again?

 

Not sure what point you are making. Are you saying that on entering a tunnel I should sound my horn? If I do and get a response what does that tell me? How am I supposed to know that the pinpoint light is a wide-beam?

 

At the end of the day two narrowboats can pass in most tunnels. If wide-beams (although in the minority, but quite legally) wish to use tunnels then in my opinion they need to take steps to inform others of their intentions. I was not suggesting that BW should get involved, just that steps should have been take to inform other users. To blast into a tunnel, single handed, knowing that there is no way you can pass the "light" coming the other was is, I feel, totally unacceptable.

 

To encourage discussion was the point starting the thread!

Edited by rog guiver
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Bridgewater Canal has no tunnels.

 

Eh? Er yes, and no - 46 miles of underground canal tunnel in Worsley mines. Not navigable or accessible of course. Bank Top Tunnel gave the Bridgewater Canal access to the very centre of Manchester, though there is very little sign of this now.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Things are not that simple are they, tunnels in this part of the country are nearly all narrow in fact I have yet to go through a wide one. Secondly you can't always see a light coming towards you as many tunnels wind around a good deal.

 

Many years ago I had a similar experience meeting another narrowboat near the middle of Preston Brook Tunnel, sounds stupid now, on entering there was a clear view of the far portal though the view of it was occasionally blocked I assumed by the bendy nature of the bore, only when it was too late did I realise that another boat was coming towards me. I ended up backing out in the process disturbing a 200 year old deposit of soot from the walls which covered me and the boat.

 

Now there is a clear procedure for entering posted at both ends. Even so I blast my klaxon every minute or so as I pass through.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Clearly the onus was on one or the other of you to check before using the tunnel, and logic would suggest it should fall to the crew of the widebeam to do this. No-one seems to have a definative answer here, so I would suggest you contact BW and ask them for guidance. I presume you have the name and number of the widebeam so you could ask them to copy that guidance to the licence holder. The notion that the other guy had precedence due to being a handicapped trust boat is news to me, and I doubt there is any truth in it.

Having said all that, we should know really, all of us.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Eh? Er yes, and no - 46 miles of underground canal tunnel in Worsley mines.

Well, yeah, but they are mines.

 

We meant 'proper' tunnels, like Preston Brook and Saltesford or Barnton.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, yeah, but they are mines.

 

We meant 'proper' tunnels, like Preston Brook and Saltesford or Barnton.

 

Bank Top was a proper tunnel, like Preston Brook etc. Very few have heard of Bank Top Tunnel, it extended the Bridgwater Canal from its junction with the Rochdale to a point near Piccadilly Gardens.

 

If this widebeam was built for the 'handicapped' it certainly had no right to force priority in the tunnel. They should be reported for breach of the rules as Bruce Tunnel is straight, not that long (502yd), and anyone can easily see another boat in it.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had no idea about that tunnel.. thanks for the info.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Given the difficulty of reversing a narrowboat in a confined space, I would have thought it made excellent sense for the wide-beam to reverse out. They wouldn't ever get far enough off line to do more than gently scrape along the walls (at a sensible speed of course) whereas the narrowboat would inevitably keep hitting the wall much harder.

 

If you were reversing a narrow boat, steering by means of a pole on the front does sound like the best way; I wonder if I'd have the courage to put the boat into reverse then leave the stern (where I couldn't do anything useful) and walk to the bows to steer this way?

 

There are several widebeam boats in this area of the Grand Union. Several of them that I know have been through Braunston Tunnel, upon contacting BW they were told simply to go through before 6am because there's virtually no chance of meeting someone at that time in the morning.

 

In the Islington tunnel in the working era there was regular barge traffic. The convention then was that wide-beam boats had two lamps at the front, one on each side of the boat, while narrow beam boats had just one. An excellent convention, and I wish it had continued and spread. To this day I always feel nervouse when I see a pair of lights coming towards me in a tunnel, but (so far) it has always turned out to be an excessively brightly lit narrow boat.

 

Allan

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had no idea about that tunnel.. thanks for the info.

 

 

According to my records the tunnel was actually called Duke's Tunnel (620 yds) it connected from the Bridgewater to a shaft at Bank Top. Coal would be hoisted up to ground level at London Road.

 

It closed down when the Rochdale Canal was opened in 1800.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sorry that you had such an unpleasant experience.

 

We are a 56ft wide beam boat and may be considered in the "special design" category as Golden Duck was built specifically to accomodate blind and partially sighted people including wheelchair users.

 

We have been through the two main tunnels in London at Islington and Maida Vale. The former is reasonably long. We normally sound our horn before entering and have a good look for oncoming tunnel lights before starting out.

We were a bit concerned about our width and the camber on one of these tunnels and we had some dialogue with BW before using them for the first time. They never mentioned the requirement to inform BW when wide beams use tunnels. I have never heard of such a thing.

 

I have always considered it practical for the boat who is the least amount in, to back-up.

If boats are both mid point, then I would stop the engine, walk up to the bow and speak to the other skipper, to see what was the most reasonable solution.

 

We never take the boat out single handed - from memory, I believe there is something in the Community Boat Association guidelines about this. We always have at least two and sometimes 3 official crew.

 

There are no special privileges for so called "special boats".

We abide by the same rules and regs as other boaters.

People are usually very accommodating when they see us trying to manoeuvre in a small space or when we need level bank access to disembark passengers, but that is very much an unwritten thing in the same way that you might help a wheelchair user at the local supermarket.

 

I can assure you that we wouldnt have acted in the way that you describe, had we met you in the tunnel.

Don't let this nasty incident colour your thinking in the same way that a dispute with a rude fisherman doesn't mean all anglers are bad.

Edited by Golden Duck
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Am I missing something here, or are most of the replies missing the point.

 

The problem as I see it is that the boater entering the tunnel has no way of knowing that the approaching boat is a wide beam.

 

Obviously on a narrow tunnel, blowing the horn regularly and looking for lights should tell you if you can go through, but in a wide tunnel, it is normal for narrowboats to be able to pass. So if you see a boat approaching, it doesn't matter. However should that approaching boat be a wide beam, we have the scenario described in the original post.

 

As wide beams are, at least up until now, relatively rare, I would have thought the onus was on the widebeam to ensure no one enters the tunnel. However it seems that wide beams are becoming more common, so this problem is going to escalate. Perhaps it is time for BW to issue guidelines on wide beams using tunnesl.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

We never take the boat out single handed - from memory, I believe there is something in the Community Boat Association guidelines about this. We always have at least two and sometimes 3 official crew.

 

 

Sorry out of interest is this because its a widebeam or because it is owned by an organisation with particular rules ? Is it considered irresponsible in general to take a widebeam out singlehanded ? I've never heard this before (but then I've never been in possetion of one...)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take your point Dor.

I guess nobody has addressed it up to now.

 

We have navigation lights and two tunnel lights - one either side. The nav lights are not for tunnels, but an oncoming boat would probably see the green and red nav lights plus the two spots lights about 6-8ft apart.

 

From a safety point of view, a steerer on an approaching boat would probably exercise caution when they saw this as it is not what they would expect. Obviously, this is only Golden Duck and we are not regular users of the tunnels - once or twice a season is our average usage.

 

Perhaps BW should request some special actions by wide beams to warn of their presence.

What though ? Special lights, sound signals, etc all have their pro's and con's.

 

Am I missing something here, or are most of the replies missing the point.

 

The problem as I see it is that the boater entering the tunnel has no way of knowing that the approaching boat is a wide beam.

 

Obviously on a narrow tunnel, blowing the horn regularly and looking for lights should tell you if you can go through, but in a wide tunnel, it is normal for narrowboats to be able to pass. So if you see a boat approaching, it doesn't matter. However should that approaching boat be a wide beam, we have the scenario described in the original post.

 

As wide beams are, at least up until now, relatively rare, I would have thought the onus was on the widebeam to ensure no one enters the tunnel. However it seems that wide beams are becoming more common, so this problem is going to escalate. Perhaps it is time for BW to issue guidelines on wide beams using tunnesl.

 

 

I have never seen it in writing, but I believe it is recommended good practice for community boats. Obviously, if you are a private boat, wide or narrow, its up to you.

 

The recommendation is really to do with the usage of the boat - I believe the same recommendation applies for narrowboats being used as community boats as well.

 

I know of one Community Boat organisation who have a standing order wthin their own organisation that each of their boats must go out with 2 certified skippers and a crew member.

 

Sorry out of interest is this because its a widebeam or because it is owned by an organisation with particular rules ? Is it considered irresponsible in general to take a widebeam out singlehanded ? I've never heard this before (but then I've never been in possetion of one...)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well. if you believe "The Boater's Handbook", the standard booklet that BWB send out with licences....

 

"Check for instructions, entry times, or traffic lights at the tunnel entrance".

 

Whilst I can remember the likes of Blisworth & Braunston definitely displaying "Keep Right" and "No Unpowered Craft" instructions, I can't remember any instructions actively displayed about phoning BW if over 7 foot beam. (But I havewn't done them for a while - so perhaps someone will say they do ??....)

 

Certainly every "Nicholsons" canal guide I can recall for the last 30 plus years has stated quite clearly in it's navigational notes that such craft must contact BW before entering these tunnels. I'm kind of surprised at the "just go in before 6:00 a.m. answer !. True not many people do, but the thought of one boat having to back up even nearly a mile is pretty worrying. It that what the magic arrows on the roof are now for - to determine which end is nearer, and hence who goes into reverse :rolleyes:

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... and the official line from the IWA

 

For Braunston and Blisworth tunnels, for example, various British Waterways notices, guidelines, etc, say that wide beam boats should arrange their entry into tunnels with local British Waterways staff (so that a British Waterways member of staff stands the other end of the tunnel to stop other craft entering). But for some shorter tunnels, it can just be a case of checking for oneself that no other boats are in the tunnel before entering.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.