2011 Now I decided it was time for something a little different. On the way back from the last trip, I chanced upon the Narrow Boat Trust pair of boats moored at Osney in Oxford. I had moored up with a view to do some shopping, but before I did, I went to take some photographs of these historic boats, Nuneaton and Brighton and have a chat with the crew. I was given a leaflet and membership form, but little did I think that I would be with them the following year. Later, after getting home, I decided it might be an interesting new venture and an opportunity to gain new friends, along with a totally different experience, so I sent off the membership fee and waited to see what developed. Sure enough, in the spring, there was the chance to do some maintenance work on the boats at Alvecote, which is their home mooring. I did enjoy this opportunity to exercise some of my practical skills and meet other enthusiasts, as well as learning a new heritage language of the old boatmen.
|Nuneaton and Brighton at Osney|
During that year, I went to almost every historic boat show going, starting with Rickmansworth, then Leicester, Stoke Bruerne Gala, Braunston Historic Boat Rally and ending with the Summer Coal Run from Burton-on-Trent to the Thames and Wey Navigation. I met so many people and did make new friends as well as improving my boating skills. At the same time, I was enjoying the canal system from a totally new perspective. I was also inspired to become a captain, which involved gaining the RYA Helmsman’s Qualification and a St John’s First Aid Certificate, as well as having all the skills ticked off in my NBT Individual Training Record, which I did achieve in that year.
Although I had achieved my aim, I did not yet feel that I had had enough experience to take charge of the pair of boats and I aim to gain more of that in 2012.
Now that I had an Inland Waters Helmsman’s qualification, I was able to answer a request for steerers with the IWA public trip boats at Oxford Open Doors weekend and Banbury Canal Day. I contacted Mary Heritage and travelled up the Thames by boat to those locations to take part. Again, it was an opportunity to meet new people and make more friends as well as steering the short trip boats (I nearly said Mickey Mouse boats), which were a complete change from a 70ft boat loaded with 20 tonnes of coal. I also volunteered to steer the same boats on a Christmas Kids Cruise at Thrupp in December through the ice! All very enjoyable experiences, which I hope to repeat this year.