The MLC will, from Saturday 23rd May 2020, reopen all their locks and will allow vessels through them.  The manned locks at Salter’s Lode and Stanground may be used by appointment only and, due to the requirements for social distancing (and the expected desire for boaters to get out and use their boats), you should not automatically assume that you will be able to get a slot at the time or even day you hope for.

Please note that that until the Government further relaxes the COVID-19 controls in place at present (unless your boat is your residence) you should not stay on it overnight.

I hope you find this generally good news and that  you will continue to work with us as Government advice changes.


Due to COVID-19 and the closure of our customer contact hubs we regret that we are temporarily unable to issue tokens for the pump out facility at our March Sanitation point. There will still be facilities for boats to use the Sluice Room and the Potable Water facilities which are still operational as normal. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Update on Navigation Licencing on Middle Level Waters


The Navigation Advisory Committee have reviewed the position in relation to introduction of licences for Middle Level Waters which was due to take effect from 1st April this year.  The committee agree that in light of the COVID-19 situation and reflecting on the impact this will have on the boating community, the date when boats will need to be licenced has been set back to 1st September 2020. The licence fee will now also be further discounted so that it will be equivalent to 50% of the Environment Agency (EA) Anglian Waters charges.  One other change is that the Middle Level will not be issuing EA visitor licences as agents for the EA this year and hence there will no longer be a 25% cap in place for this.

Recognising that some applicants may find themselves in a financial hardship situation then it will be possible for such a vessel owner to request that arrangements be made to spread the cost of the licence over a four-month period, by making arrangements for direct debit payments as an example.

Applications for licencing for vessels (for the period 1st September 2020 until 31st March 2021) can be made anytime between now and the end of October. Due to current government advice on social contact the application forms are only available via the navigation page of our website (for powered vessels the application form is already available and for unpowered vessels this will be added shortly). Applications can only be accepted by post or email until further notice, with payments being made by: enclosing a cheque, by card over the phone by arrangement, or by filling in the card payment section of the application form.

Fenland District Council – Marylebone Bridge Mooring

Navigators and other waterway users should be aware the mooring structure situated at Marylebone Bridge along the Old River Nene in March Town Centre has been closed for public use on the grounds of health & safety.  Navigators are strongly advised not to attempt mooring on the structure in its current condition.

Well Creek Trust – Salters Lode Landing Stage

Navigators and other waterway users should be aware the landing stage has been removed due to its poor condition.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Warning for Boaters

Boat Safety Messages – portable gas camping stoves & BBQs


The BSS has issued a media release and placed information on our website supporting the Calor Gas Ltd and alerting boaters to Calor’s immediate product recall on all 6kg Calor Lite® cylinders manufactured between 2008 – 2011 inclusively. The actions follow concerns regarding the potential deterioration of the cylinder. The link below gives further information:

Merchant Navy Association Boat Club launches new Boating Basics guidelines

Project Hereward

Project Hereward seeks to re-open the Forty Foot River between Horseway and Welches Dam and Welches Dam Lock itself to navigation.
See their website at

Strong Stream Advice (SSA)

The Environment Agency issues Strong Stream Advice to inform river users when levels in the Nene and Great Ouse are increasing and conditions are becoming unsuitable for boating. Notice boards are displayed prominently on the riverbanks of these rivers to inform boaters of the status of the river and red flags are also raised at several boat clubs.

The Environment Agency recommend that to find out if SSA has been issued boaters call their 24 hour SSA hotline: 0845 988 1188. Choose option 1 and listen to the pre-recorded information follwed by one of these quick dial codes:

  • Nene – 032112
  • Great Ouse – 033211
  • Ancholme – 031212

Alternatively, they offer a service where you can be added to their free Strong Stream Advice messaging system. You will receive a call on your mobile phone and/or lindline, via an automated service that can send messages at any time of day or night. Text and email facilities are now also available. For further information please contact them on 01522 785943.

The Middle Level, apart from its flood protection role, is also the fourth largest navigation authority in the United Kingdom and is responsible for approximately 100 miles (160 kilometres) of statutory navigation and the operation of six navigation locks.

The Nene-Ouse Navigation Link forms part of the Middle Level Navigation. The Link is at present the only connection between the Great Ouse and the Main Canal Network.

During a normal summer, over 1,000 passages of the Link-Route are made by pleasure craft.

The Commissioners issue Navigation Notes, which provide navigation details for boat owners, who wish to use the system.  See Navigation documents for more information.

You can now follow the Middle Level on Twitter via @MLCnavigation

The Sanitation Point at March Town Bridge is maintained and remains the responsibility of Fenland District Council (Tel: 01354 654321).


Due to COVID-19 and the closure of our customer contact hubs we regret that we are temporarily unable to issue tokens for the pump out facility at our March Sanitation point. There will still be facilities for boats to use the Sluice Room and the Potable Water facilities which are still operational as normal. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

The facilities available to navigators on a no charge basis include:

  • Drinking Water
  • Boat Hold Refuse Disposal
  • Chemical Toilet Disposal
  • Tank Wash Out

Pump Out facilities are also available at the service block at a cost of £12.50. Tokens for the Service Block can now be purchased from March Town Library and Fenland District Council’s Offices in County Road. Further information can be found on the Council’s web site, by phoning 01354 654321 or on the purple information board at the Service Block.

Important boat safety message:
Advice to boaters on burning wood fuel.
Advisory Navigation Notice from the Environment Agency

New edition of the boater’s handbook
The Canal & River Trust has launched a new edition of the Boater’s Handbook. First published in 2002, the Handbook is written for boat owners and hirers and contains lots of ‘getting started’ tips as well as important information about how to boat safely. Every boater will be sent a copy to their home address by the Trust and the Environment Agency in November, and hire boat operators will also receive the new edition.

The original handbook won a Plain English Campaign award for style and clarity and the format and tone have been retained. The changes are mainly to detail and emphasis. Information about navigating rivers has been strengthened, particularly relating to navigating in strong stream conditions. Some additional diagrams have also been added to make things as clear as possible for boaters.

The Trust wants all boaters to be aware of the key safety messages:

  • Avoid slips and trips! Watch out for ropes, bollards, holes and other hazards, use grab rails and wear non-slip shoes. Don’t try to jump from the boat onto the bank and wear a lifejacket if you can’t swim.
  • Don’t get crushed! Keep your body out the way of a moving boat: don’t fend off with your arms, legs or boat pole, and don’t have limbs dangling over the side or your head out the hatch. Keep off the roof when you’re underway.
  • Watch out for fire and fumes! If you smell exhaust, gas, or petrol fumes raise the alert right away. Switch off appliances when you’re not using them and keep ventilators open and free of obstructions. Remember that carbon monoxide poisoning is extremely dangerous: early signs include headaches, tiredness, sickness and dizziness, and anyone affected should get medical help right away.
  • Don’t rock the boat! Think carefully before climbing onto the cabin roof as the boat could become top heavy and roll over, and don’t all stand together on the same side if it risks tipping the boat over.
  • Remember your lifejacket! The water is often colder and deeper than you think. You should always wear a jacket when navigating through a tunnel as you will be easier to spot and rescue if you fall in.

Dean Davies, interim head of customer services at the Trust, said: “The Boater’s Handbook is an incredibly useful resource for any boater, from novices to old hands alike. It contains a wealth of information about how to boat safely, as well as all the basics that can seem quite mystifying to new boaters. We’ve taken the opportunity to update the Handbook to make sure it contains the best possible advice, and we’re sending it out to all our licensed boaters so they can refresh their memories and keep it on board as a handy reference guide. I’d like to thank the members of the editorial panel who have shared their expertise and all the boaters who have given us feedback.”

A hard copy of the handbook will be sent to the home address of all licensed boaters in the second half of November – if you’ve recently moved house but are yet to update your Trust record please do it now to ensure you don’t miss out on your copy! This can be easily done by calling customer services on 0303 040 4040 or e-mail

A downloadable copy of the Handbook, and a video setting out key information, can be found here:

The Handbook was originally commissioned by British Waterways in partnership with the Environment Agency and the British Marine Federation. An expert group was commissioned to develop key messages and content, drawing on other published sources and relevant empirical evidence. Since then, there have been several re-prints which incorporated minor corrections and updates.

An editorial panel was set up to include as many as possible of the original authors plus a representative of the Trust’s Navigation Advisory Group (NAG). Members were Ken Dodd (chair/editor and lead consultant in the 2012-14 study of safe boating), Nigel Stevens (Association of Pleasure Craft Operators/BMF), Malcolm Blundell (NAG), Russell Robson (EA), Philip Burgess (Association of Inland Navigation Authorities), Tony Stammers (Trust) and Sally Ash (now retired but formerly Trust)

For further media requests please contact:
Fran Read, national press officer, Canal & River Trust
m 07796 610 427 e

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