Who said boating was supposed to be care free? They obviously never had a boat. Not that I mind, for the pleasures easily outweigh the problems.
Next weekend we stop worrying about canal stoppages and start worrying about wind and weather. Yes, it’s our annual kamikazee sailing weekend on the Norfolk Broads. Although I have a vague idea how to handle a sailing boat, I don’t do it often enough to have an instinctive reaction when something goes wrong. And on a sailing boat something usually does. I generally only agree to take over the helm in light breezes or in the wide open expanse of a broad, where I am not in danger of hitting anyone. Even then, the danger of a capsize is ever present, or of course on the shallower broads getting stranded aground like a Greek cruise liner.
I’m happy to say that our party contains a number of skippers far more competent than I, so I’m happy to do as I’m told. No-one has died yet on these expeditions but our damage deposit with the boatyard has rarely been kept. I sometimes get the feeling that they deliberately weaken the bowsprits on these boats so you snap one off and lose your deposit. Even a two mph bump into the landing stage is quite enough to do it as we know to our cost.
I’ve been checking Broads river levels today and it seems we should be able to get under Potter Heigham bridge in one piece, although it always takes preparation and concentration so to do. It’s not hard to see why. We have to drop the masts and paddle through. If we’re lucky the tide is running with us. If not we get arm ache.
Then there’s the traffic. Narrowboaters have no idea what busy river traffic is, even in London. At least narrowboats go in a straight line. Dodging your way through this lot when your motive power could come from any direction at any time is , how shall I put it, stressful.
Actually, I can’t wait.