Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Boaters with attitude

Has anybody else noticed how unfriendly some boaters can be, especially towards hirers? Whilst the vast majority of boaters will smile and wave to others as they pass, there's a number who either wear a face that looks like it's been slapped or simply stare straight ahead in an attempt to ignore you.

Sadly, this is most noticeable in private boat owners; people who should know better. Whilst there are plenty of hirers who'll go out of their way to be anti-social too, but there's definitely an "air" about some boat owning people. I can say this with a degree of certainty as, whilst I own my own private boats, I rarely use them, preferring to use fleet boats when they're available so that I can trial them in a real environment, seeking out foibles and looking for improvements. To everybody who doesn't know that this scruffy, long haired, four-eyed guy owns the business, I'm your average hirer out on a hire boat and I'm regularly ignored, most commonly by private boat owners. Hey, perhaps they do know who I am and it's deliberate....

It's also fair to say that many private boaters were once hirers; they've been in the holiday maker's shoes too. It's also reasonable to suggest that the boat they're on was once a hire boat; so many were.

I had a story recounted to me some time ago about the MD of a boat builder and hirer taking out his new flagship vessel on its maiden voyage. How accurate this is, I don't know, but I can well believe it. He was mooring up astern at a popular location between a group of private boat owners who all stopped to scrutinise his maneuvering and watch for the merest nudge on their vessels. They then proceeded to gas on about the scourge of hirers on the Broads well within earshot of this person. After a while, he'd had enough and introduced himself, much to their embarrassment, and was quickly offered a glass of wine.

It takes all sorts to make the world go around but there really is no need for people to be like this. Hirers may have a reputation for ignoring rules, speeding and so on but then again, private boaters can be just as bad. Hirers may not be able to afford £30k or more to buy a boat themselves, but some have paid up to £1500 for a week's holiday on the Broads. Hirers are not second class citizens and should be welcomed; without them, the Broads Authority would not be able to maintain navigation without trebling (or more) the price of river tolls, local businesses that supply the tourist trade would vanish and the local economy would be in ruins. 

It's a real shame as, no matter why you're on a boat on the Broads, you're in one of the most brilliant wetland landscapes on the planet. The Norfolk Broads are a relaxing place to come and unwind and, whether you're here because you hire or you're here because you are fortunate enough to be able to own and have the funds to keep a boat, please, smile about it and share your enjoyment with others.


Keir Harness said...

I agree, think it comes down to education, you are right hiring a boat on the brads is actually quiet important to its long term economic survival. Holidaymakers do need to understand that the Broads are not just a holiday destination but also the home of quiet a few people. Who live and work here and are very passionate about protecting the Broads.

Andy B said...

The irony is is that i have hired for some thirty years now coming up two sometimes three weeks or more a year. I have now got on inland waterways more man hours than most private boaters who regularily speed, fail to wait for craft manoeuvering and generally behave like they own the place. It also is recognised they tend to get the 'yacht' out for the little trip to the pub, sit there get trollied and back again. So long as they are seen in the Gin palace. Proper Broads folk have no side to this nor an attitude. I have found a calm helpful willingness to help and talk amongst them, generally not owners of huge inflated cruise ships. Equally i agree, the minority of hirers belting out music screaming and shouting is not acceptable, but as a rule folk who hire on the Broads do so because of a love of the wetlands. If they want the Spanish lager lout holiday they will go there instead.
Any consolation you get this same idiot attitude these days on the canals from the private owner fearing you may touch his boat. They have fenders ! to stop damage? The flow of the water means you will touch at miniscule speed whilst moored?
Funnily enough the private owners inability to handle the craft can be just as interesting as the first time hirers at times.
I tend to try rather than be cynical to others i jsut gently try and help if they will let me. If not it's their loss and if they cant see the beauty of Broadlands again it is a sad day if they can't see it

Robert said...

Well said Andy, I had a similiar thread on the Norfolk Broads Forum, I am sure you wouldnt be surprised at the flack I received. Regards Rob

Andy Banner said...

Robert, no, I'm not at all surprised. I seem to have had very little flack which, I suspect, is more a measure of how many people read the blog rather and silencing irate numpties.