22nd May 2011
Heavy rain preceded another
sunny day. I had previously collected the car from across the cut to go in the
official car park and was able to easily offer Mouse a lift to Ricky station,
with him praying that there were no engineering works to stop him getting his
connection from St Pancras on time. That left Barry, Keith and myself to show
the boats. Again it was another busy day talking to people interested in the
pair and trying to make it as interesting as possible, without going on too
long. It was encouraging to find some visitors really interested in how the
boat families lived in such a confined space and worked the pair of boats. I found also, that as time progressed my introduction became better and more
concise. I found it relatively easy to answer questions, having read so many
books on the subject.
A late lunch cooked by Barry
of bacon steaks, eggs and mushrooms was enjoyed by all, before we set to work
to close up the boats at 4 pm. The information displays were removed and top
planks positioned on the stands before the side cloths were unfolded and tied over
the top planks to keep both the top planks in position and side cloths tight These
were then covered with the top cloths and tied to the gunnels to keep the hold
water-tight. This is a considerable amount of work and there is some skill in
tying the strings to keep them taught and using the correct knots to do the job.
It has to be done by at least two crew and as Keith left at 3pm, it was all
down to Barry and myself.
Side cloths up and top planks secured.
It had been a physically
demanding, but very enjoyable week and of course there were periods to recover
in between the activity when steering, or waiting for the boats at locks.
Steering the motor boat involved about 90% concentration, but steering the
butty involved only about 10%, because the steerer was only responsible for the
direction of the stern. The fore end being entirely directed by the motor
steerer. Like most activity on the cut, it is a case of learning the routine in
a series of events and once that is grasped, moving on and learning a new technique.
On this trip Trevor signed me off on double locks both up and down, as well as
steering the motor and the butty in my training book, which every NBT crew
member is issued with when they join. All the techniques are listed to be completed
and when a book is full, the member is eligible to be proposed as a captain,
provided that a first aid course is attended and a YHA Helmsman Certificate
NBT Training Record.