Continuous Cruising

Issue date: 1 April 2011

Judgment has been made recently in Bristol County Court ( 31/3/2011) concerning the interpretation of Section 17 of the British Waterways Act 1995 (relating to Continuous Cruising).

Mr Davies the defendant, kept his boat on the Kennet & Avon Canal in the Bradford upon Avon area and declined to respond to BW’s repeated warnings that his boat movement was not sufficient to meet the licensing requirements.  These state that to qualify for a BW boat licence, a boat must have a home mooring – somewhere where it may lawfully be kept when not being used for cruising.  An exception is made for boats which ‘bona fide’ navigate throughout the period of the licence.  Because Mr Davies did not move sufficiently or agree to comply with its other terms and conditions, BW refused his application to license his boat.  And, because the boat is Mr Davies’ home, BW followed its usual procedure of asking the Court to decide on this case.

There was little or no dispute as to the extent of Mr Davies’ boat movements.  Central to the issue considered by the court was the meaning of the term ‘bona fide navigation’. 

The Judge noted that Mr Davies’ purpose in keeping the boat on the short stretch of canal between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was so that his home was within convenient distance of his place of work and his social circle, and that his purpose in moving the boat was to attempt to escape the requirement to have a permanent mooring.  The Judge said: “What is clear to me is that the defendant who is clearly living on the boat cannot successfully claim that he is using it ‘bona fide for navigation’ by moving it every so often up and down a short stretch of canal.”

The Judge’s decision is that Mr Davies now has three months (30 June 2011) to remove his boat from British Waterways’ canals and rivers.