So long Sawley

The car was packed. The coal was stacked on the roof. The parents’ bike shed was full of stuff I couldn’t fit anywhere else. My leftover washing tokens had been redistributed, and I’d left a bottle as a token of appreciation for my neighbours who have been so kind and helpful. I was ready to sail off into the sunset. (Actually into the clear blue skies of Saturday morning.)

My former mooring

The last time I’ll turn right out of the marina

The last crew out of Sawley.

The journey to the new marina took us along a tried and tested route. It was the overwhelming favourite of my trip options out of Sawley – first right out of the marina and then straight on till Sainsbury’s. There should be no surprises along this stretch of the river.

We got to Beeston to pick up our remaining crew without incident. There was a bit of a delay at the marina cafe as someone else took our toasted sandwiches but we weathered that catastrophe. We were minutes away from Castle Marina when I had an inexplicable lapse in judgement.

There were fishermen along the towpath – not an unusual occurrence. As a boat approaches they will customarily take their rods out of the water until the vessel passes by. I had no reason to think these fishermen would be any different; indeed the first two did just that. So why I decided to try to dodge the third line is anybody’s guess. As he removed the rod from the canal I realised my circuitous route around his fishing space meant I was about to crash into some boats moored the other side of the canal from the fishermen. I frantically threw DF into reverse and avoided putting a hole in the hull of the nearest boat. But this now meant I was wedged up against the wall of the canal, which makes changing direction very awkward. (At this point some of the younger crew tried to see what all the fuss was about, to which I could only squawk ‘go away’ in a high pitched voice.) To try to counteract this difficulty I pushed the tiller as far as it would go towards the left (aiming to swing the boat to the right and away from boat-mageddon). It was here I noticed the ledge built into the wall, which was a smidgen lower than the height of the tiller.

In the interests of accuracy, I will admit that I only noticed the ledge once it has ensnared the tiller underneath it and started to drag it backwards as the boat edged forwards. I couldn’t release the tiller (or didn’t want to try out of affection for the skin on my hands) so I just pushed on forwards. The good ship finally pulled clear of the wall and missed the moored craft by inches (with a little help from one boat woman pushing us away from her – her narrowboat had only been painted the day before).

I did fear that I might have lost all ability to steer, given the awkward looking angle of the tiller. (Had it been an arm I think amputation would be the only viable solution.). Happily I could still direct my lovely boat, though the range of the tiller had been altered by 90 degrees so turning right involved leaning directly over the rear of the stern to point the tiller completely backwards. It was with some difficulty (both physical and mental) I turned into the entrance of my new home.

Once paperwork was complete, the marina manager hopped onboard to help me moor up for the first time. I needed to reverse park as I had no pontoon to moor next to, and the back door would need to become the front door as a result. It did not go as badly as I had feared – certainly not as badly as avoiding the fishing rods. It may have helped having an expert on board to give directions, but I think it’s more probable that I am a natural reverse boat parker. However, as I never want to do it again, opportunities to test this theory may be few and far between.

So I’m tied up in my new home. Let’s hope the grass really is greener as I can’t face driving somewhere else with this tiller.

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Living Thing‘ by ELO.


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