Friday, June 22, 2007

Turning with a tern

You'd think that with all this rain the canal water would be brown and cloudy, but for some reason it was crystal clear today on the Slough Arm. I went out to Herbie to refit the repaired cratch cover and turn the boat round. On the way to the winding hole to turn, I could easily see to the bottom of the canal (admittedly only three feet or so), which at this time of year is fringed with water lillies and teeming with small fish below and damsel flies above.

As I trundled down the arm I was joined by a common tern who was evidently interested in catching the fish that were being disturbed by the boat. The tern circled round and round the boat hovering and swooping just above my head, sometimes only six feet from me. This went on for about ten minutes on the way down and ten minutes on the way back. Of course, you never have a camera when you need one, so sorry, no pics. Anyway I didn't see him catch a fish.

Incidentally, I was browsing through our dictionary (I know I'm sad) and noticed that the word "cratch" actually means a crib for fodder, or a manger. I don't know how it came to mean a covered frame at the front of a narrowboat. I doubt if it was to do with feed for the tow horses, but I suppose it could be. My friend Jock, who has been a sea farer for much of his seventy odd years and knows just about all there is to know about sea going vessels, had never heard of a cratch when I mentioned it to him last night, so it could be just a canal word.

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