Maiden voyage

Not the boat’s maiden voyage, obviously. But my first trip out on her. Today Dad and I said goodbye to Taylor’s Boatyard and set sail to…well…we weren’t really sure where. All we knew was that we had to go south, then east, through a few locks and along til we reached a farm where the charming Eric Watson would service her engine. Should take around five hours. Oky doky then!

Firstly, predictably, the engine wouldn’t start. Flat battery. Tony and Pete were on hand, and two hours and several cups of tea later we were ready to go.

The sight of two grown men's backsides leaning over my boat's engine always fills me with confidence
The sight of two grown men’s backsides leaning over my boat’s engine always fills me with confidence

It’s worth pointing out at this point that I had driven/been on a moving narrowboat once (Emma’s birthday last year, we took her boat, Flo, on a four mile/ten lock jaunt which went swimmingly until we stopped for a pint, after which I crashed into two boats…) and Dad had never driven one at all. Hell, I don’t even know if ‘drive’ is the right word (I have a feeling that it’s not. So what is it then – sail? Cruise?)

Anyway, there’s no getting away from the fact that the boat was at this point in Chester, and needed to be moved, slowly but surely, to Todmorden. So, feeling a tad nervous, Dad and I set off. Not beginning the journey proper, but just ten miles east to a farm where she could have her engine fixed up and serviced.

First up was Northgate staircase locks. Never done one of those before. Fortunately Colin and Tony from the boatyard went on ahead and met us there, so Dad could watch what they did with the locks and I basically got to sit back on the boat and try to make sure she didn’t bang into the sides of the lock as the water gushed in.

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We skirted round the city walls and managed the next few locks by ourselves – hurrah! I was slightly humiliated to be overtaken by what appeared to be a massive cream tea on some kinda mammoth barge-like thing, but they did leave the next lock open for us so I forgave them. Dad’s packed lunched turned out to be just as nice as mum’s thank god (yes, they have been bringing me packed lunches…) and all was going swimmingly until… kaput. The engine started screaming and blowing off steam and we were forced to pull over.

Broken down again
Broken down again

This happened twice, and both times we were rescued by one Mr Eric Watson – the fella to whom we were headed to have the boat’s engine serviced. How he found us I don’t really know, but fortunately he did and we eventually pulled in to our space at Golden Nook Farm around 7pm.

To be perfectly honest, I did expect the engine to conk on us – this was the reason I wanted the engine serviced before setting out! But still, even with the breakdowns, I was really happy with my first day on board. I had a great time with my dad, found some cruising confidence, and got my little boat ten miles nearer to Todmorden.