I have used my BCU card with Ardilla (Acorn Skiff.) Never had a quibble from a lock keeper yet.
Two years ago I wrote to the BCU asking for clarification of what the card covers both with regard to the waterways licence and their insurance. I suggested that since the waterways licence category is unpowered craft under 20ft then their card should cover all craft in that category (since there are canoes that are rowed and peddled, dinghies that are paddled and electric outboards to add to the mix.
I was promised a reply. Despite following up every few months, and each time having been promised a response, they've never answered the question.
So I carry on using the card until someone tells me otherwise!
Its a very good question; when is a canoe not a canoe? Does beam come into the
equation. For example a 'sailing' canoe with a beam of just over 4 feet? Open canoes
of course have a larger beam than kayaks.
I have just asked the same question (before I saw your post) mentioning both sailing and rowing as methods of propulsion.
In my email I noted that there is reference to SUP (Stand Up Paddleboards) as a craft that is covered under the BCU licence on many waterways. The phrase most regularly used is "canoe or kayak". Hull shape or size gets no mention anywhere that I can find and the only method of propulsion mentioned seems to be "paddle".
It seems to me that it is a deliberate policy of the BCU not to define its terms as that is likely to lead to difficulties in the arrangements negotiated with so many of the bodies they have to work with and the historic nature of so many navigation rights which all date to days before pleasure boating.
With regards to the waterways licence I'm happy that it's vague.
My concern is greater with regard to the third party insurance cover... while lock keepers may tend on the side of flexible interpretation of the words 'canoe' and 'kayak' it's my experience that insurance companies are rather inclined to find reasons to avoid paying. Can imagine the definition one day being tested in court after an accident and claim.
In a narrow lock, a paddling rowboat is unlikely to inflict damage on a huge boat made of steel or glass fibre with significant tonnage. I think the legal case is to take a paddle and use it when appropriate, for safe control of the "canoe".
Conversely using oars or electric drive can get your "canoe" out of trouble - away from a fast weir quickly, or to effect a rapid change of direction. The bye-laws of the river/canal might kick in, justifying the more powerful propulsion on safety grounds.
I seem to remember we have been round this buoy before
And one of us (?me) phoned the BCU and were told that rowing boats don't count as canoes, even long thin ones and as far as I remember there is no other centralized body that issues even a partial blanket licence. Particularly, the Inland Waterways Association are having far too much fun quibbling with the various smaller authorities to actually produce anything so pertinent to our baby boats.
I guess two things come out of this; firstly get your own insurance - Noble Marine for me and secondly, we probably need to be careful what we wish for, as there are any number of bureaucrats out there, egged on with a final flourish of the Eurocracy, that would only be too pleased to have all small boats licenced before use.
Feel free to do more research
Joy to the World
I very strongly suspect that CW is right.
There is an EU definition of a canoe, which is within the RCD, and it specifically refers to a small vessel propelled by a paddle or paddles, not oars, sail or other means of propulsion. I'm near-certain that the BCU insurer would take the view that the definition within the RCD is the one that would be applied.
When it comes to bodies that licence the use of waterways, then I would hazard a guess that they aren't really that bothered one way or the other. If someone has what looks like a valid form of licence then the chances are it will be accepted, I think.
That's a useful reference point Jeremy. Nearest thing to a legal definition anyone's yet come up with.
But it does leave those in a Hobie Kayak (named as such by the manufacturer/supplier) using a Mirage Drive in a curious position. I suppose the Mirage Drive is a 'paddling' device. But the EU definition is clearly not in line with current technology.
And anyway, we're leaving the EU, so I wonder what our relationship with the RCD will be in a few years.
As I said, it will get sorted in court one day, hopefully not involving any of us!
Just to be mischevious...
There is a Coleman canadian canoe fitted with a sliding seat and outriggers that is rowed on the Hamble. Should it no longer be called a canoe?
And if I take a whaler out with a dozen people who propel it with paddles, does it then become a canoe?
And if those dozen people stand and paddle, using the oars but ignoring the rowlocks, does that mean the oars have become paddles?
And if I put a paddle in a rowlock and row with it, is it still a paddle? Am I paddling or rowing?
And when a canoeist hoists a sail, does the boat cease to be a canoe until the sail is dropped. Or if the wind drops and they then paddle (with the sail still up) is it a canoe until the wind picks up again? So is a dinghy propelled by a paddle when becalmed now a canoe?
And is a Dragon Boat a small craft? It's definitely propelled by paddles but at 30ft or more long it doesn't seem to fit the EU description. So what is it? The Royal Canoe Club calls them canoes.
My son's partner is a barrister, this is the sort of thing she gets big bucks to argue about.
Not sure if any of the graphics will arrive on the forum!
But here's the response I have just got!
-------- Forwarded Message --------
Graham, Chris IV and myself have met the Open Canoe Sailing Group at Barton. Some are into boat building like us and they are a friendly, adventurous group.
This guy has built a Paul Fisher Prospector like Phil did, but turned it into a trimaran with 5m of sail and a 2.5hp outboard for emergencies!
They seem to go for beams of about 36in or 0.9m, then add outriggers to avoid repeated capsizes. Whereas the Bee has a beam of 1.3m, more freeboard and stable when swamped. Plus you can stand up and scratch your bum (Chris Partridge's standard rule!).
So, a bit more suitable for us, but no special arrangements for river or canal licensing.
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