Most of my boating career, I could accurately be described as clueless. But over the course of the last couple of years I have been slowly accrueing clues and other titbits of knowledge. So it was a proud moment a few weeks ago when I got to show off my burgeoning expertise. (Too much?)
I had enjoyed a charmed day so far – I was single-handed heading down the Trent but both Sawley and Cranfleet locks had been manned, much to my great relief. There was only Beeston lock left to negotiate, and that one is easy to moor up at and not that deep. My favourite kind. I was just heading into the lock, when a small group of people asked if I would like any help.
“Umm, what do we need to do?” they asked. My heart sank a little.
“We’ve just bought a boat, and need to learn about locks,” they continued (they spoke as one, clearly). My spirits rose a little. This was my chance to shine, to become a narrowboat font of knowledge.
So I talked them through closing the gates and closing the sluices. I remembered this time to tell them not to let go of the windlasses (last time I told a crewmember what to do the windlass nearly went flying). And then, with childlike excitement, they worked out all by themselves what needed to happen next. I considered getting out of the boat to help, but I decided it would have ruined their fun. So I carried on drinking my tea as they dashed about the lock for me.
They thanked me as I drove out the lock and I tried to look gracious and wise. (It’s not a well-practised look for me, so who knows how it turned out.) I then realised I had forgotten to tell them to close the gates behind me, and felt slightly annoyed they had only done half a job. Had they asked for feedback and not just disappeared, I would have given them a C. Passed, but only just.
I think I’m going to make a mediocre boat teacher.
This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Doctor Doctor’ by the Thompson Twins.