Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Here at Thrupp I will help anyone who needs it. I am however not too happy about helping single handers who ask. “Can you get the bridge I’m singlehanded” is a common phrase here. If you want to be a single hander you have to ‘learn’ and you wont learn by getting others to do it for you. We single handers have chosen a difficult way to do our boating. It is however our choice and as such we should not only plan more than other boaters, but we should also learn faster and with greater accuracy. The day a single hander steps on to his boat he is saying “I can do this on my own’ and it is his responsibility to learn everything in a short space of time. This is not always possible, but what he does learn has to be learned well so that when approaching a new situation he can assess and plan what to do (using previously learned skills) with minimal risk to other boaters or other sundry ‘civilians’ on the tow path.

I remember in 2006 being in Skipton on the L&L. Up to then I’d had a companion who caught her bus home, to Wiltshire, in the town. The first obstacle encountered when I moved on was a swing bridge. I stood on that bridge for a while pondering how to get Milly from one side to t’other whilst having to operate the bridge from the offside. I stood at the control box, or was it just a locking mechanism, I opened the bridge, I closed the bridge. as the bridge closed the lamp came on in my head and the answer arrived. Following that day I have approached all engineering on the canals in the same way. Stop Look work it out. All things are doable on your own, but you have to think clearly and use previously learned info to help you. Muddling through is just not good enough. The damaged caused by unknowledgeable newbies is costly, though not immediately apparent. It is simply not good enough to be able to say ‘Oh I can operate a retractable ball point pen so I should be able to cope’. This is not a game.

Now here at Thrupp the lift bridge as it was (pre mechanisation) was not difficult to operate or traverse on your own.  However  following “hundreds of complaints from single handers” (BWs words not mine) received by BW they decided to change the status quo. They spent £40,000 making it a key operated bridge that was single hander friendly. Irrespective of the damage done to the social aspect of the bridge the design is a cock-up. Of the two control panels only one can be clearly seen. The other is tucked away behind a garage and leaves the single hander wondering how he is to lift the bridge and then get back to his boat. Well it is a relatively easy thing to moor up and go look at the bridge. Few do. No they see the obvious control panel and put their nose up to it then climb the safety fence, some even walk over the flower beds (criminal damage).

Mooring up and reading the instructions would tell them how to do the bridge but no people do not want to learn. They are quite happy bumbling along causing damage.

If you are coming to Thrupp there are two control panels MOOR up and go look at the bridge. It wont take long and may prevent you from making a dick of yourself. Should you fall off the safety fence a very large box of steel is waiting for you to crack your skull. Don’t be an arse do it properly and save someone else the grief of having to mop up your blood!



Jaqueline Biggs said...

There are all kinds of reasons why folks single hand it on the cut. Not everyone chooses to do so. I've known of female partners who have suddenly found themselves single through no choice of their own. Frequently their partners were the kind of men who wouldn't deign to let a woman drive--or do anything else of consequence on the boat, except cook, clean, and support his wishes. I suppose when one loves a man, one might be tempted to accept this situation. Thank fully Les and I are of one mind about my being able to do anything he can do aboard our boat. But I do know of two women who have found themselves suddenly single handing it--one through the death of a spouse--and one through a spouse who abandoned her and the boat. One woman chose to sell up and go back to land. The other chose to stay aboard and learn how to do it all on her own. I think she is incredibly courageous and deserves assistance and compassion from the rest of us. After all she is trying her best. Sometimes others have no idea just how much it costs someone to appear "normal", "healthy," "well adjusted" or in control.

Maffi said...

When I wrote this post I was thinking of the blokes who ask for help. You lasdies rarely do. You may have missed my article in the Tillergraph about the situation you talk about but once the decision is made to stick with it my post applies. Single handing is a choice. It is not really a case of 'Oh I will single hand but everyone will help'. If the choice is to stick with the boat then you have decided to be a single hander you have to learn fast. Any man who refuses to let his wife/partner learn all the tasks is no man I want to know.

Lisa said...

So how does a single handed boater do those lift and swing bridges on the Leeds to Liverpool? We found it a doddle with four aboard!
What a Lark