Monday, November 27, 2006

Clubs and subs: the hidden cost of boating!

Well, I sent off my £12 yesterday, as promised, to become an associate member of the Historic Narrowboat Owners Club (the missing apostrophe is theirs, not mine). My/our membership of organisations various has certainly proliferated since we got into this waterways lark. Not that I've ever been averse to signing up for a cause: when I got my first bank account, the very first cheque I wrote was, proudly, my subscription to Amnesty International (as it was called then). I've been a member of Amnesty on and off ever since, and more recently Liberty, with various forays into other causes over the years (often at the behest of Jim and/or the children, and involving fluffy creatures with big appealing eyes). But never have I been a member/supporter/contributor to so many organisations simultaneously as I find (now all the subs are due) I am now.

There's HNBOC; then there's the Russell Newbury Register (discount on parts, plus The Rally), and the Shropshire Union Canal Society (well, you sort of feel obliged, don't you) ... they're all current. Then there's the Huddersfield Canal Society, which I had to renew just before we left Huddersfield in order to be eligible for a '74 Club' plaque on completing our navigation of the Huddersfield Narrow (or at least I thought I had to). There's the Residential Boat Owners Association (likewise lacking an apostrophe), which I think should now have lapsed, along with my semi-residential status. For two hopeful years, while we had Helyn on the Middle Level, we were members of the Great Ouse Boating Association, although we never actually made it as far as the river (weren't prepared to pay the licence more like), but perhaps we can still fly our pennant on the way to St Ives next year. Then there's the Working Boat Project; I'm not sure if that's a membership organisation, but they send us newsletters. One each, in fact. The one glaring omission is that as far as I can recall, I've never actually joined the IWA - but I do buy their Christmas cards ... And then there's the magazines which we can't resist every month (thinking of taking out subs there too following a slight altercation with our friendly local newsagent, but the free gifts aren't very appealing at present. I mean, do you want a 'wine kit'?). I'm not going to add it all up because I think I'd scare myself, but these are the expenses they never mention when you say you're thinking of getting a boat ...