HUZZAH! At long last the wintry weather seems to be loosening its grip on us. The clocks have sprung forward and the temperature is heading up towards more sensible levels – and that means that for most boat owners the time is rapidly approaching when we can get our charges back in the water and start enjoying life afloat once more.
Along with all the anti-fouling, scrubbing, cleaning, polishing and last-minute maintenance that traditionally takes place at this time of year, don’t forget one important thing – to renew your boat licence with the Environment Agency.
Boating is by no means a cheap pastime these days. Boats are, of course, very expensive to buy and to run. Insurance costs seem to be heading upwards at an ever-increasing rate and the price of maintaining your boat in a safe and serviceable condition can prove a drain on the deepest pocket.
But it’s not worth trying to get away with not paying your boat licence.
True, for a 25-foot boat, the cost is around £320 a year – but the alterative could end up costing you a whole lot more.
Last month, a boater was successfully prosecuted at Richmond Magistrates’ Court and was fined a total of £1,000 after being caught on the Thames without a valid licence.
The Environment Agency, which handles the registration and licensing of boats, puts the money raised, together with Government funding, to pay for the upkeep and improvement of structures on our rivers. That can include anything from maintaining the banks to repairing and improving the locks and weirs. It also includes paying for the cost of providing moorings along the river.
Kim Pottinger, the EA Waterways income team leader said: “I’m urging people to think ahead and register their boats with us in good time.
“Anyone found without a licence will be given a police-style caution and could be prosecuted – not the ideal way to end a nice day out on the river.”
The EA regularly patrols the Thames and every lock keeper you pass will be keeping an eye out for boats not displaying a proper licence.
You can obtain details and an application form by visiting the EA website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/craftregthames or call the Agency on 0118 953 5650.