Thursday, January 18, 2007

Is boating relaxing?

Just a little thought before we pop off (weather and M6 permitting) to Warrior tomorrow. Most people's first reaction, when I tell them about the boat, is that narrowboating must be very 'relaxing'. I mean primarily people who haven't (yet) done it themselves, but I also think I've heard boaters say, or be quoted as saying, it. Now, does this mean that I'm doing something wrong? Lying in the garden in the sun is relaxing. Lying in bed, possibly, if it's nice and warm and you don't have to get up. But boating, in my experience so far, has been, in various measure:
rewarding (very)
occasionally (dare I say) boring
uncomfortable (e.g. cold and wet)
but, above all, exhiliarating - the very opposite, I would have thought, of relaxing.

Perhaps people think it's relaxing because it looks so slow, but there's still always a lot of work going on under the surface, whether that be the constant physical work of steering, or the mental task of keeping alert for what's ahead. On top of that there's the more obvious physical effort involved in locking and other labour intensive activities. I'm not denying that you feel great at the end of a day of all this, and likely to sleep like a log, but it's still not what I'd call relaxing.

Maybe they're thinking of being the person in the brochure photos who appears to spend the entire time sunbathing on the roof (see 'lying in the sun' above). But even then I would have thought the prospect of low bridges might disrupt one's inner calm a bit. Possibly it's the proximity of water, and the beauty of the surroundings. But water can be treacherous, and beauty, surely, is something that grabs you by the heart?

Still, I'd rather feel inspired and exhiliarated than relaxed any day, and that's what I love boating for.


flatplane8 said...

Hi Sarah,

Depends how you define relaxing. Its often associated with doing nothing, or lying in the sun, but I think relaxing is something that makes you forget your usual pressures.

Sometimes getting lost in a simple activity can be very relaxing, albeit tiring too. :)

A boat is a relatively simple thing, so looking after it, getting from A to B etc. is quite rewarding and achievable.

Simple pleasures. Or probably thats just me. :)


JT said...

I couldn't agree more Sarah.

When guests "have a go" at steering it's always funny to see the sheer panic that overcomes them when another distant boat appears at the prospect of a combined speed of up to 8 miles per hour!

What relaxes me most about 'boating' is coming home after a stressful day and just 'being' on board & looking out of the window etc. I'm not someone who relaxes easily and can't think of anything much worse than sunbathing - I'd rather go cycling over a mountain range any day. But I thinking living on board helps me feel close to nature, water is always soothing and all the little things (and big things) that need doing keep my mind off work so it's good for me overall. (Keeps the therapist at bay!).