Sunday, 7 September 2008

RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman's Course

Tuesday 2nd September

After our visit to XR & D we were in high spirits as we continued on to Shropshire. We were heading for Offley Grove Farm where we had booked a nights B & B as we wanted to be at Norbury Junction for 8.30 the following morning. The B & B rooms in the main farmhouse were full so we were given a lovely cottage all to ourselves for the night, and partook of an enormous Offley Grove breakfast the following morning - I could feel my arteries hardening as I ate - but I didn't care!!

We arrived at Norbury Junction in good time, and Terry Robertson met us on Shropshire Lass with the kettle on! We unloaded our bags, and, after a coffee, Terry took us on a tour of the boat, and quizzed us to find out how much knowledge we actually had. We set off about half an hour later, heading for Market Drayton where we were to spend the night. We did lots of zig-zagging at different speeds to see how the boat handled, and he taught us how to reverse the boat properly - I was useless at it, but Rog was really good, so that will be his job. I did manage to wind the boat successfully though - I've always let Rog do that in the past, but I will happily do it myself now.

Concentrating hard!

Looking along the roof - before it started to rain!

We worked through Tyrley locks in the afternoon - always one of my favorite places on the whole of the network - and Terry seemed happy that we knew what we were doing. By this time it was raining hard - but we didn't care - we were happy just to be out on a boat again!
We had a meal at a pub that evening, but didn't stay long as I we were both totally cream-crackered! Terry laughed and said that everybody was the same - it was the combination of concentrating hard, and learning new stuff! We were in bed before 10pm!

Our mooring at Market Drayton

Wednesday 3rd September

We pulled the pins (I've been dying to say that!) at 8.00 and headed back towards Tyrley locks on our return journey to Norbury Junction. The side-washes at the locks were really fierce so Terry taught us how to enter the locks at speed to counteract the flow of water - it was terrifying! I have never headed straight towards a lock wall at that speed before, then moved the tiller at the last minute to get the bow in, then again to get the stern in - then hard into reverse to stop the boat before it hit the top gates. But it worked. I only did one like that - I was too scared to do any more, Rog did the rest, and I worked the locks! Terry also taught Rog how to do a lock single handed which we hope he will never have to do - but it's as well to know how. We did some more reversing practice - I was still no good at it. We moored back at Norbury Junction about 3.30pm and, after a cup of tea, and more questions, Terry went off the spend the night at home. We ate at the Junction pub, and then had a couple of games of cards before bed.

Rog, getting wet!

Nosy ducks at Norbury Junction.

Thursday 4th September

We set off again about 8am, this time bound for Wheaton Aston, to practice all we had learned. No locks this time, just more reversing, winding etc. We winded when we got there, then Terry made me reverse again to the facilities so he could do a pump-out. I made a right hash of it yet again. The heavens opened once more, so when we had finished with the pump out and set off back towards Norbury, Terry went inside and heated soup for lunch - never has a mug of soup been more welcome - we were drenched by this time, but still smiling!

We arrived back at Norbury at about 2.30, where Terry gave us our certificates, and said he hadn't had to teach us much! Wrong - he taught us loads, and we had a great time. Even though we have been boating for 10 years, on hire boats, on our own old narrowboat, and on a share boat we knew that we still had lots to learn. It was well worth doing. Thanks Terry!!!!

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