Clients start arriving at the yard around mid-day. Some who have come from far afield have been known to arrive before 9am; they are usually from Aus NZ or USA. Their published time of arrival is 1.30 so they have to wait for boats to be finished. At the boat yard there is a cafeteria, Kizzies, where customers can breakfast and start to wind down to canal life. On arrival they are required to ‘check in’ by completing paper work including a manifest of passengers. Once their boat is finished which includes flowers on the table and a complimentary bottle of wine, a member of staff shows the customer around the boat. This is a brief show round to introduce them to their accommodation. They are shown the inventory and are asked to check it if they wish. Customers are then asked to get their gear aboard, this can take some time (despite us supplying everything they need for their holiday except clothes food and drink people bring along all sorts of stuff most of which they don’t use). Once unloaded cars are parked in the secure compound and their keys handed to the desk clerk for safe keeping. At this point a member of staff is introduced to the customer and he/she then takes the customer on to the boat and instruction begins. Although we never expect a disaster, it is essential that customers know all about the safety on a boat that we, as boaters, take for granted. I ensure that safety equipment and potential problems are pointed out as I walk along the boat to ensure the holiday is just that, a holiday. There must be two sober adults (SA's) present for the instruction.
Personally I take the two SA’s directly to the front of the boat and set about explaining the various parts of the boat. First opening what on my boat is the gas locker to highlight the water filler, hose and, if the cruisers are to venture out on to the Thames, the anchor. Closing the lid I demonstrate how to coil a rope neatly and place it on the locker ready to use. I tell them how nice it is to sit on the front deck while the boat is travelling along, but that playing balancing games etc on the gunnels could result in them falling in and should they fall in it only takes about 6 seconds before they are level with the food processor (propeller) at the back. Clients are told that the roof is a no-go area and that the gunnels are not a safe way to move from the back of the boat to the front, this should only be done by walking through the boat.
Coming back into the boat I point out the forward fire extinguisher and show how it is operated followed by an explanation about why there are vents around the boat and why they should not be blocked. I demonstrate how to use the windows for security. In the shower room the shower needs no real explanation as most people have used showers, but they have probably never used a boat toilet so they are shown how the controls work. Nearly all our customers have no difficulty actually using the toilet so we leave that bit out, but they are told that nothing goes down the toilet unless they have eaten it first; they will later sign to say they understand this. I point out the shaver socket. On some boats there is a dummy door against the side of the bathroom, which is used as a privacy partition, As I point this out. I make a big thing out of mentioning the side hatch which is in the vicinity. How nice it is to stand and watch the canal go by and how leaning out, when passing trees or bridges, could leave them headless.
Going past the fixed double I explain why there is spare bedding on the bed and point out another extinguisher and a fire blanket as we enter the kitchen. The gas cooker is demonstrated this may appear unnecessary but not everyone knows how a flame failure device (FFD) cooker works. I ask them to use the trivet and not place hot pans on the worktops. Moving in to the sitting room I point out a third extinguisher. I show them how to convert the dinette into a double bed, first taking down the table. The location of the circuit breaker (CB) panel is in the airing cupboard and using the wind up torch that we provide we show people how to reset the CB’s. I explain that if the water pump should continue to run they have run out of water and point out which switch to stop the pump until they have filled up. (I turn on the tap so they can recognise the sound of the pump). There is a pull switch above the radio, I tell them ‘This is the central heating switch just pull if out it gets chilly’. The torch is kept on top of the airing cupboard with the first aid kit. I switch on the radio, make sure they see the TV remote and explain that the TV ariel, despite its looks, works fine and point to the socket as we proceed on to the rear deck. Outside is where the technical stuff begins.
. . . cont/