Monday, 6 September 2010

Plastic fantastic - not

Streethay Ray asked if we'd do a little job for him today - move a boat from Kings Bromley marina back to Streethay.
It's a nice little trip, through three locks and Fradley junction so we said yes, even though the weather was very windy and rain was promised. Then he told us it was actually a little plastic cruiser with an outboard motor. "But I've never driven anything like that," I protested. "You were the editor of a boat magazine, you should be able to drive anything!" he laughed.
There followed two nightmarish hours! (After I'd spent some time trying to work out how to actually drop the outboard into the water that is.) First we bobbed around the windswept marina as I tried to get to grips with the steering, the controls and a boat with the stability and solidity of a windswept leaf surrounded by unyielding steel hulled narrowboats.
Eventually I lurched out onto the canal, see-sawing desperately at a wheel the sort of size you'd steer a racing car with – and down at crotch height too.
Gradually I got the thing under control, learning that faster was usually better than slower and that you needed to count to five after applying steering to find out what the likely outcome was. Which was fine except when a possible outcome of not applying enough steering was hitting an oncoming narrowboat or spearing a tree.
Generally though things were happening more or less as I intended them – except that every time I tried to relax a big gust of wind sent the boat spinning sideways and nothing would pull it straight again.
But we made it and tied up just minutes before the heavens opened. Apparently the boat's new owners reckon that if they find they like cruising they'll buy a narrowboat. Well all I can say is don't take it out on a windy day!

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