Sunday, 17 February 2013

Good Boy!

Well he is really, isn’t he?

He has been today anyway, bless him. He’s tried really hard.

Every day here at Kate Boats the Skipper sits down in his easy chair first thing in the morning, having switched on Radio 3 quietly, while he eats his toast and honey and drinks his coffee for breakfast. Sometimes afterwards his head begins to loll on his chest and his day gets delayed even further then. But always he’ll decide eventually that he needs to go for a walk or whatever. And then that’s me all on my own, all day for another day.

It’s been like that since the beginning of November and I’m fed up with it.

We got as far as the head lolling stage this morning and I thought; “Here we go again.”

But all of sudden he gets up and says “I think we’ll go for a little cruise today.” Just like that. He often talks to himself. He’s actually talking to me not thinking that I can hear and understand him. He thinks I’m just a piece of steel, inanimate-like, but we know different don’t we? I notice when he writes his blog too, he always says “We did this….” or “We did that…” and I know he’s including me in what he’s saying, which is rather sweet I think don’t you? It’s not the Royal ‘We’ or anything. He’s certainly not one of those.

“Yes! We’ll go for a cruise.” he repeats, all firm and definite-like and with that he puts on his shoes, his fleece and his old Blue Star Line cap and marches aft.

Then I know he means business.

During the cold weather, when he’s started the Russell Newbery, just to run it for a while, she has always been very sluggish to want to go and I’ve never given her any encouragement either. But today because she could see that I was eager to go, she started with no trouble at all, even though it had been a frosty night outside and today the thump of her pistons seemed even more excited than usual.

The Skipper let go, my screw began to turn, pushing me ahead and it was a delight to feel the movement of the water along my sides again. I think the Old Man felt exhilarated too judging by the happy smile on his face.

We were on the move, just gently, as we had plenty of time, at tick-over, dead slow ahead. Not only the joggers were passing us along the towpath; everybody was but it was beautiful. There was no breeze at all and the Sun after a while began to shine. It was a perfect day for cruising as I nudged my nose forward through the water.

The ducks were not upset as I pushed gently through them. So long as I didn’t nick their bread that was being thrown from the towpath they couldn’t care less. But a couple of big white farmyard geese were unhappy at my passing and honked at me bad temperedly with haughty bills held high until I was well past…. The miserable things!

Up through the two big Cape locks the Skipper manoeuvred me carefully only half opening one paddle at each one to ensure that I was not furiously thrown all over the place as the lock filled. Then all too soon for me we were at the Saltisford Arm, where a 57 foot boat like me can turn easily.

We did so with ease and headed back towards the top lock. But before we arrived there the Skipper moored me right opposite ‘The Cape of Good Hope’ pub where he had some lunch. I didn’t mind that delay. The sound of the water gurgling through the Top Lock as it leaked down was very relaxing. The Skipper deserved the break too.

In about an hour we were on our way again and very soon; too soon, we  were back at Kate Boats. We needed to turn round so I would be facing the same way alongside as I was before and by this time I had gained enough confidence in the Skipper, after his brilliant performance so far in the day, to think that he would have no trouble with this.

It just goes to show that I can’t relax at all with him around. I should have known better. He made a right pigs ear of it all.

I know exactly what he was thinking. With the wind, which had increased during the day quite a lot, and was blowing up the canal towards the mooring, he decided to reverse into the turning basin and let the wind blow the bow round, therefore facing in the direction we needed to go. Of course he misjudged the available depth in the basin and got my stern stuck midway through the manoeuvre. Couldn’t pole off from anywhere convenient but luckily for us the stern line was long enough to heave ashore and eventually he was able to get to it and, with a lot of effort, physically heave  my stern through the mud and clear.

I think he’ll stick my nose in first next time and heave my stern into the wind if necessary like any sensible person would have done. But my Skipper always thinks he knows better than anybody else. I do wish he would learn.

Still, It’s been a lovely day. I can’t really complain.

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