On Wednesday, two weeks ago, I had the job of bringing two new shells up from Enslow. The day before I had had a nice three hour cruise down from Heyford to pre-positioned a hire boat to use as a tug. The shells were dropped in from Smiths yard just beside the canal. Then we poled them a hundred yards along the canal to the tow boat. Once all the boats were strapped together we took them to Heyford. The sun was shining all the way and we had a great time. Andy took the front boat Dave Parry did the lock wheeling I had the tiller of the trailing boat. People were surprised to see us all in a line. There is no great difficulty in this procedure, the front boat needs to steer all the bends wide whilst the rear tiller needs to make the centre boat follow the lead boat by anti steering his boat. Once the centre boat bow is pointing the right direction the rear boat can be bought into line. There are three locks between Enslow and Heyford but for us that meant 9 lock operations. Of course two of the boats had to be manually hauled through the lock. We timed it at one lock, in and out in 38 minutes. It could have been done faster but getting two short boats into the lock to let them down took a bit of faffing about.As Dave arrived at Northbrook a College Cruisers narrowboat was coming out of the lock. Dave told the skipper of Brasenose to keep right because there were three boats in tow just a short distance down the canal. Well he didn’t listen! Andy saw the bow wave long before he saw the boat . . . . on the wrong side of the canal. We had no choice but to stay on course. If Andy had tried to stop the trailing boats may have jack-knifed across the canal giving the idiot on Brasenose no where to go. Brasenose eventually came to a stop on a shallow bank edge which left him struggling to get off again. He was level with me on the rear tiller. “I bet that surprised you” said I. “At least I missed you” , came the reply. Had I known, that he had been warned of our presence, I would have ripped into him.
Hirers go fast because there is nothing to stop them speeding. Maybe a compulsory throttle stop is the answer. If a boat breaks wash at 1100 rpm why let them have an extra 2 or 3 thousand rpm to abuse! Boating can be a dangerous game left in the hands of novices and the powers that be need to take some sort of action!