Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sold down the river

Ever the optimists that we are, we plan to take Warrior to the IWA National Festival at St Ives next year. Part of the motivation is to fit in a visit to the boat's builder, John Shotbolt, at Ramsey. Part of it is a desire to show off (so I hope we get a good inside mooring), and part of it is to have somewhere to aim for on our travels. Also, it will, hopefully, be nice to feel more immersed and involved in the festival.

Booking in the boat and three people for the duration of the festival cost, if I remember rightly, £63. The temporary Environment Agency licence that we need to navigate the Nene and the Great Ouse to get there costs £149. And that's with a special IWA deal. This is why, when we had Helyn on the Middle Level, we never quite got around to 'doing' the rivers, much as we would have liked to. (A fellow moorer at Floods Ferry made his plans for a Nene trip and bought his licence for the fortnight in question, only to find the navigation closed for flood control; no refund; no change of date; no nothing.) An annual EA licence is relatively reasonable, but the short term ones are outrageously dear (imho).

What really tickles me is the form that I've filled in to apply for it. It's something like a tenth generation photocopy, for a start, with the text all wavy and blurred. It wants to know everything about the boat, even when this is meaningless. For example, it lists a lot of facilities we might have on board, like fridge, cooker, central heating, 'other'. For each of them we have to tick a box to say whether they are gas, electric or 'other'. So, fridge: electric; cooker: gas; other: other. Well, I wish we did have an other other, but I couldn't think of anything they hadn't already covered, so I had to leave the other other box blank in the end.

Also, strangely for such an apparently old fashioned outfit, they demand to know your dimensions in metric, and metric only. Now, I have nothing in principle against the metric system. Indeed, where it's easier, I use it (but imperial weights CANNOT be bettered for cooking. Please note, Guardian and Observer recipe editors). In this case however, it caused me a seriously furrowed brow working it out. Having finally done so, of course I didn't think of making a note of it for next time I need to know.

So, a fair bit of money and effort has been wagered on this St Ives trip coming off; an act of faith, it was to start with. The logistical details of who's going to crew and how it's going to fit around work, and how we'll manage the shift changes are still largely a case of 'we'll sort that out nearer the time'. But if you worried about planning everything down to the finest detail before starting, you'd never do anything, would you?

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