Although steering a narrowboat is fairly easy, we forget how scary it it when we first started. In a recent post by Sue of No Problem she was aghast at someone's use of a bow thruster to drive straight forwards out of a narrow lock, and I recalled someone using one this summer just to steer down the middle of the canal.
Then my mind drifted back to sometime in the 1980's when we first hired a narrowboat at Brewood on the Shropshire Union Canal and went up to Chester and back. This is us then. Yes we were young once.
It was cruiser stern boat with those ghastly curving bars stretching from the prow to the top corners of the cabin. I assume they were to stop the cabin from bashing into a bridge arch. I probably needed them.
I was the only one with experience at a tiller, and that was only from a little bit of sailing on the Broads. I recall now how we panicked when we saw another boat approaching in the opposite direction and how every bridge seemed to be a matter for trepidation. Coming through Norbury junction there were lots of moored boats and somehow our hire boat seemed magnetically drawn to them and I couldn't steer us clear. I don't think we hit anything, but from there all the way up to Chester and back I was losing sleep worrying about passing Norbury on the way down.
When we got to Chester we had to turn round of course and I had no idea how to do that. Nowadays I would bring the boat to a standstill and spin her round, but back then I kept moving forward while attempting to steer round in an arc. I seem to remember we hit a wall, much to the delight of a man standing on a nearby bridge. No doubt he was muttering something about amateurs.
We had a lot of fun and a great deal of rain as far as I recall. What I do remember is reading a copy of Waterways World when we got home and dreaming that one day I just might own a boat. Perhaps just a little second hand Springer Waterbug (£7000 brand new). Well we can all dream.