It was a beautiful Monday morning. I could either go do some lengths in the local swimming pool as originally planned, or take the boat for a spin. (Just in case the decision isn’t obvious, I am not writing a blogpost about splashing around in a leisure centre.)
I was going to play it safe, head down the Trent and turn round before Beeston lock. A tried and tested route, no surprises. So I turned left out of the marina and headed into Sawley Lock. This is one of my least favourite locks – going downstream is not so bad on the approach, but mooring up afterwards to pick up crew (or even worse to close the gates if I’m by myself) is a problem that doesn’t seem to get any easier. So it is always a sight for slightly worried eyes when I catch a glimpse of the blue t-shirt and red life-jacket of a CRT volunteer on the lock. Happily the lock was manned that day, and there was a boat to share the lock with.
The three chaps on the other boat were taking the day to travel to a particularly nice pub in Kegworth. Very picturesque route, they said. Lovely way to spend the day, they assured me. I was convinced. No more playing it safe for me. I was off to river pastures new. Instead of taking a sharp left down the Trent, I took a leisurely right down the River Soar.
(Now seems like the appropriate time to draw attention to my very clever pun in the title. I’m sure you are now gasping in delight at the lovely phrasing. Or rolling your eyes that I thought it wasn’t obvious from the start.)
The first thing of note down the new river was a new marina. I had seen a sign for Redhill every day I travelled to work, and had had vague ideas of looking further into it (can’t hurt to keep options open). Like Beeston marina, it appears to be entirely by the side of the river. It’s a pretty enough setting even with the power station in the background, but I have grown used to the luxury of having a shower block five metres away. (I think it is going to take a lot to tempt me away from the shower.)
I approached the next lock and realised my leisurely morning was fast turning into afternoon and I had a night shift sleep for. I bade the other boat farewell and set about turning around to go home. The basin in front of the lock was large, and I thought I would have few problems changing direction. (Something that has long astonished me is the amount of times I am wrong when it comes to boat stuff. A bit of knowledge and experience does not seem to be turning the odds in my favour.)
I went easy on the turn until I realised DB was just going straight. So I took the next logical step and panicked a little. I put the boat into hard reverse and pushed the tiller as far as it would go (forgetting you cant really steer in reverse). This was repeated a couple of times (and got a similar result each time) until I realised a different approach would be needed. I didn’t seem to be able to think my way around the problem, so brute force would be called on instead. I (gently) rammed the bow of my lovely boat into the bank, then skipped along the side as fast as I could to jump onto the grass. With the bow rope in hand, I started to drag Double Fracture around to point the right way. It was at this moment a spectator boat arrived. I got pitying looks and an offer of help that I was obviously too stubborn to accept. Lucky for my pride, the brute-strength plan worked and I floated past them, a smile of relief on my face.
It was only a dipping of the toe in the new river. I didn’t even get too try lunch at the local riverside pub. But at least I have started my cautious explorations. Give me a year or two and I might make it to Leicester. But let’s not be too rash.
This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Take me out‘ by Franz Ferdinand.