Drunk in charge of a ‘barge’ – Comical or a tragedy waiting to happen?


Some public concern has been raised over excess drinking and antisocial conduct on barges that spoils the waterway for other canal users

In this following instance two barges crashed together creating a loud bang. It was not confirmed if the craft sustained any damage.

This brief clip was taken just after the barges had both hit each other as they foolishly tried to get through a narrow part of the canal near Burscough  in Lancashire at the same time. The loud drinkers on one barge (apparently named the ‘Blue Swan’) shouted all the way down the watercourse seemingly oblivious to what could have been a nasty and potentially dangerous accident.

Water is no joke and even at low speeds it can take lives. A drunken person being knocked overboard can easily drown in seconds, regardless of the depth beneath them. Basic common sense costs nothing and should be remembered on all waterways. Moreover, shouting and screaming is antisocial, childish and it ruins the peace on what should be a tranquil environment for other canal users.

ots-Radio Paul 4
Local RYA Training Centre Manager, Paul Harrison, stated:

“The British canal system is getting very popular for people seeking a relaxing family cruising holidays or people who want a slower pace of life and have decided to live on-board. In season the UK canals can get quite busy and the skipper of any vessel on the canals should make sure they know the rules of the road. The speed limit for the canals is 4 miles an hour, which is just a brisk walking speed. When travelling down the canal the boat should be kept to the middle of the canal as that’s where the deeper water can be found. If you see another vessel approaching you should slow down and keep to the right to avoid any potential collision, (i.e. port to port)”

Paul added…

“Our advice is not to skipper a narrowboat under the influence of alcohol, as you wouldn’t drive your car when drunk.”

You can take a boatman’s licence that will help you master the basics. Paul recommends Cheshire Cat narrowboat training http://www.cheshirecattraining.co.uk/

Below is a link to the Canal and Rivers Trust Boaters’ guide.



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