So for the final and most important of the 2023 Herbie Awards (yes I know it's already 2024 but I've been busy)
Every year we give a Special Award to a person who has performed above and beyond the norm and has been helpful either to me and Kath, or to Herbie or to the canals in general. The winners find themselves in distinguished company. This years award has been many years in the making with the recipient growing in helpfulness and dependability year upon year to the point where they are now able to run and manage Herbie for us even in difficult circumstances and we know that they will do the job properly and thoroughly. This award is a first because the recipient has previously won the Best Crew Member Award, but now they have gone beyond being a mere crew member and can now be fully trusted as Skipper when Kath and I are not aboard.
So the 2023 Herbie Special Award goes to
our lovely grand daughter
I can do no better than to re-use the pictures that I used to illustrate her eralier crew award. Here they are.
Yes, now a teenager, we started her early. Here she is at nearly 4 years old , already hands on the tiller
then at 5, opening lock gates
And here she is in 2024:
Grace started off at the helm when she was a tiny tot and has progressed in ability and confidence ever since. We're quite confident now to leave her 'in charge' of the boat even though she is only just 16 years old. A couple of months ago when Kath was in hospital with Covid and Complications, we sent Grace and her mother Claire to collect Herbie from Tooleys in Banbury and return her to our berth at Cropredy. In gloomy and breezy weather they had to turn the boat in Banbury's awkward winding hole then return to Cropredy through 5 locks and a lift bridge. Conditions were difficult and as the days were short it was dark by the time they got back to Cropredy having already survived a running aground in the falling light half an hour earlier. I think they had to negotiate Cropredy lock in virtual darkness. Grace followed her instructions to a T, tying up the boat in the dark and remembering all the 'leaving the boat' jobs like tightening the stern gland etc. Claire merely acted as crew and was instructed throughout by Grace. What a star.
So that's that for the awards.
As I write the rain is hammering down outside and our patio at home is an inch deep (and rising) in water. Our soakaway drain can only take so much. If the rain persists the water could be lapping over the threshold of our conservatory by morning. An email has arrived from Aquavista saying 8 of their 29 marinas have been affected by flooding this week and they are sending out teams to deal with the necessary clear ups etc. I suppose the affected marinas will be those on rivers like Buckden on the Ouse and especially Diglis on the Severn at Worcester.
Our friend John and Irene keep their boat in a marina at Tewkesbury and having seen photos of the town this week I'm sure that'll be flooded. Of course boats in river marinas are usually on floating pontoons but the car parks and other marina facilities have no such luxury. When John and Irene had to be rescued from their boat on the Avon in the middle of the night some years back, the boat was saved but their car back in the marina was a write off I seem to remember. Us canal users are much luckier. Canals don't often flood. It's more often the wind that is the problem, pulling boats off their moorings or bringing down trees. Meanwhile back in my garden one of the fence panels has blown down. Hey Ho. I'm not going out in this weather to fix it.