Wind in the hair, water trickling from the rudder, potential crash approaching at 3 miles an hour, trusty crew hanging off the side of the boat. Best day of living on a boat so far.
My first outing as a boat-owner followed a leisurely route, out of the marina and to the left. We filled up with diesel and pumped out the toilet. And then returned to the mooring, covering about 500 metres in 90 minutes: a personal best which may take come beating.
The trickiest thing about driving a boat, is that there are a few tricky things about driving a boat. You can’t just stop, and so there is inevitable drifting into solid objects. You can’t steer in reverse, making a three–point-turn a mythical manouevre. And when you can steer, you point the rudder in the opposite direction.
All of this means a crew is essential packing (applications currently being accepted for future voyages). But be warned, future crewmates, the first voyage set a pretty high standard. Not only did they give practical steering advice, pulled the boat here and there with the ropes, they also did the bulk of the work when pumping out the onboard toilet. A crew that sorts out the sewage for me is a crew I need to keep sweet.
Now the tank is full, there is no stopping me (although a lock may do a pretty effective job of that) – travelling at 3 miles an hour might be the kind of adrenaline junkie I have become. Where next? To Shardlow and its many pubs? To the Erewash canal to get my solar panels replaced? To Birmingham – the Venice of the North – if I ever find myself with a spare three months?