Monday, August 25, 2008


Day 27, Waltham Town Lock to Hertford, and back to Broxbourne.

Nothing very exciting happened today, so I worked a little on expanding my skillset (that's the latest new buzzword in the world of education, don't you know, although what education (as opposed to training) has to do with skills, I don't know. Ask the government).

Now, locks I can do. After a few years of practice I can do locks upside down and in my sleep, like a well oiled machine. I can climb up and down slimey ladders (very useful on the Nene where the landing stages are the size of matchboxes) and as of today can walk across top gates even without a handrail.
I am also quite good with ropes. I can coil them so they don't tie themselves in knots (whereas Jim, mysteriously, can make them tie themselves in knots very impressively). I can throw them at bollards with a fair degree of success, and I can tie a boatman's hitch, about which I am quite (but generally unsuccessfully) evangelical. Frankly I think that this alone should make up for any shortcomings.

I can steer, going forwards, with some facility now, and I can go backwards in a straight line. What I still cannot do, much to my chagrin, is manouevre with any degree of subtlety. If you are awkward enough to want the boat in a particular place, particularly if this is a place we have already passed, then I am not your woman. I had another go this afternoon. Oh yes, I merrily trilled, I am a little tired after all those dreadfully heavy locks, so on the way back I shall steer and you can have the opportunity to improve your locking skills... Well, after two locks I was practically begging to apply my bruised sacrum to the Lee Navigation's recalcitrant gates again. Once in the lock I was fine - backwards and forwards; no problem. It was the picking up and dropping off, and the stopping and waiting, and the holding off (but there was a weir...) that did for me. I could no longer stand the frustration. Generally I just avoid doing things I'm not good at (swimming, drawing, socialising, singing....) because I hate being bad at things, but this I have to work on. I have laid in a stock of chocolate in anticipation of another attempt tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you would care to describe the boatman's hitch and its uses here. I was once shown a hitch described as such, but the method of tying has flown out of my head. As we'll be cruising soon, I'd like to put this information back.

Michelle, nb Shilling

S said...

Hi Michelle

OK, I'll try... take two turns around the bollard/dolly/whatever, then pass a loop of the free end of the rope under the boat end and put it over the bollard. That's it. But to make it more secure, put another half hitch (i.e. a loop with the free end of the rope underneath) on top. The beauty of it is that it won't ever lock, you'll always be able to undo it easily from the free end. It's useful for tying up, and on its own quick and easy for temporarily securing a rope, e.g. if you don't want to stand there holding it while waiting for a lock. Let me know if the instructions were any good!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sarah,

The instructions are very clear. I've now been successful in tying this hitch indoors with a clothesline on a doorknob, and my clothesline feels very secure. This should translate easily to a mooring line and bollard. Since I don't trust my memory I'll copy your instructions to bring to England with me. Surely after doing this a few times I'll be able to remember it. I think perhaps I couldn't accept the simplicity of it and was trying to make it more complicated.

Bill and I have been enjoying very much reading about your travels this summer. We hope you have a great time on the rest of your cruise.