Well, well, in something of a turn up for the books, I have today gained the National Community Boats Association Certificate in Community Boat Management. This means that I am considered capable of taking charge of a boat and up to twelve passengers. As well as being somewhat bewildered that anyone would consider me capable of this, I am also rather proud. There is no doubt that my steering has improved, and my manoeuvring over the course of this training weekend did, I have to say, go without a hitch. And my boatman's hitch was the envy of all.
The theoretical element of the course was not too onerous, being based largely around boat knowledge and common sense. The real challenge was the route planning exercise: work out how you would do the Warwickshire Ring in a week, fitting in a visit to some stately home, shopping and getting water every day, and with a pumpout in the middle of the week... using only a 1983 copy of Nicholsons, which for a start doesn't even have a symbol for pumpout in the key. However, once we got the hang of it Richard and I made a fair stab at the task, although we did end up with a day in hand and a pretty tired crew.
The only fly in the ointment is that as far as CCNA are concerned, I am now a qualified 'skipper'. Sebastian has already promised to bring me a hat with gold braid from the shop where he works on Brighton seafront. I can only promise never to refer to myself as such. But a steerer I shall be very proud to be.