Friday, 17 August 2012

Canalworld and I Finally Part Company

I've finally had enough of CWDF a.k.a the Canalworld forum here on the internet and have decided to stop posting there.

It's a good forum if you have a boating question, as it has a hardcore of experienced, but overbearing boaters who have opinions on everything and will put you straight, before arguing amongst themselves to prove their superiority to each other, until the post gets locked or turns to dust.

All large forums have this to some extent, but their mob rule is getting out of hand.

Several wise boaters have told me recently that they use CWDF to gain answers to their problems, but then once the information is gained, they stop viewing the post and let the regulars turn their original post into chaos with their bickering and bitching.

I've been a member for 7.5 years and have around 2600 posts to my name, but it's been getting worse in the last few years, with some posts just resorting to rudeness and open insults. The moderation is very laid back and a minority have effectively seized control.

Half the time, people can't even be bothered to read what you've written and just hijack the thread to talk about what they want to talk about.

I stopped posting answers on my speciality, electrical matters, some years ago because I was finding that I would answer the original poster with my professional opinion and then spend the next 5 posts defending my answer to others looking to pick holes in my response. I found myself writing essays to cover all the angles for even the simplest questions. Life is just too short for that sort of nonsense.

The sad thing is that I have met quite a few boaters who admit they like reading the forum for its wealth of information but do not post or even reply to the posts of others for fear of being trampled by the hardcore.

That is a real shame and of course is a form of censorship all in itself. It's all very well for the hardcore to say "grow a thick skin" and "if you can't take the knocks don't play", but why should you have to ?

Not everybody who likes canals wants to spend their evenings arguing and point scoring..

The end result is that the meek get meeker and the know-all's become the only posters.

There is a distinct lack of respect for varying peoples opinions which is just ignorance.

It seems to me that forums like this have a lot of people on their board who think that an evening's entertainment ideally comprises of large amounts of alcohol and winding people up as much as possible.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

VHF on Canals More Prevalent Than You Think ?

In a recent survey on two canal related Facebook groups, it was discovered that

22 boats carry VHF either permanently or occasionally
12 boats don't and have no interest
15 boats don't have VHF but would consider it if more boats and marinas fitted

To me, this suggests that VHF has potential on our canals.

I don't mean that boats cruise round with aerials up and loudspeakers blaring static to spoil everybody's peace. Quite the opposite.

However, if marinas and some service-supplying boatyards fitted channel M, this would allow VHF equipped boats to communicate about berth locations, pump out availability, etc.

In fact, virtually anything you might normally phone a marina or yard for, except the calls are free.

I'm not even suggesting boats fit VHF specially for this purpose - it just seems that if 44% of boats already have VHF, they could actually get better use out of it.

Channel M costs a marina £75 per year for the licence. A VHF base station can be bought for around £100.
No trained operator is required to operate a set working on channel M. The person who normally answers the phone can operate the channel M set.

Most VHF boat sets sold in the UK, come complete with channel M (or Ch37A as it is sometimes called).

I've spoken to a few marinas and there seems little interest. One even said in their defence, that they had not received anybody asking for it.
I wonder how many boaters know about the merits of Channel M ??

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Do You Have VHF Onboard ? Would You Like Marinas To Use It ?

Having recently struggled to get a dongle signal whilst cruising, so I could look up the phone number of a Marina we would were passing to inquire about availability of services, it occurred to me how bloody useful it would be if I could actually get some use out of the VHF equipment that I carry on board our narrowboat.

Like a lot of boaters these days, we carry VHF for the Thames tidal and other selected waterways where there are commercial vessels.

Most of the time it sits brooding in the corner.

We often need to contact marinas and boatyards to see if they have any visitor moorings, if their pump-out is working, etc.

I just thought it would be good if more marinas and boatyards would buy themselves a cheap base station and get a licence for Ch.M.
 A fixed set these days can be bought for £100 or less and the Channel M licence costs £75 per annum. As its not an international channel, the users don't need to undergo any test or certification.

Some of the MDL marinas on the Thames have this facility (probably because they are often dealing with GRP cruisers that go down the estuary) and it seems to work quite well.

It would certainly save that long slog off the canal into the marina basin, only to reach the services berth to find an out of order sign.

Or to ask about the price of their diesel

Or to ask where they expect me to moor on the umpteen finger pontoons around me ?

and of course, it might stop my VHF gathering dust..