Three Hours in a Boat – Part 2

September 27, 2009

Before you start reading, you should be aware that this is part two of a two part story.  You could read this part first but that’d be a bit weird.  I’d recommend you start reading part one first: Three Hours in a Boat – Part 1

I Can’t Take Any Moorings

Eventually I couldn’t take it any longer and decided we had to moor up before I went mad.

I found a mooring spot, and after ten minutes of driving the boat forwards and backwards managed to get close enough to the bank.

Now I should explain that my missus is not exactly the outdoors type.  The only way you’d see her shopping in Millets is if they had a make-up range.  And let’s be honest, if they had a range of make-up it’d only be face paint for the Andy McNabb fantasists (it comes in three exciting shades: Forest Green, Desert Storm and Iranian Embassy).  Anyway, not for her leaping onto muddy banks.  I was going to have to tie this baby up on my own (the boat that is, not the missus)

I leapt off the bank with a rope.  I pulled the back of the boat as close to the bank as I could and tied it up when suddenly I heard a scream.  My missus was on the front of the boat and it was drifting away from the bank.  She was yelping and waving her arms up and down as if she was trying to fly away from the boat.

I asked her to throw me the rope.  With an almighty girly throw she tossed it about four feet: two inches away from herself and 3ft and 10 inches downwards into the canal.  She pulled the rope in and tried again.  Plop.  She tried again.  Plop.  She tried again.  Plop.  “That’s close enough” I said and rolled up my sleeve, dangled myself over the water and reached into the canal to fish it out.  I pulled the boat towards the bank and tried to tie up at a mooring post.

At this point another canal boat appeared.  The bloke steering this boat seemed amused at our difficulties.  He was doing something that no one has done to me since I was at school.  He was literally pointing at me and laughing.  He shouted across in a powerful Welsh accent “Where are you from?”
“We’re from London mate.”
“Well you should be used to this – you’ve got a river!”
“Yes mate but we don’t fucking live on it.”
He thought about this for a bit, looked back down the canal and then said “Your boat is drifting away.  Hahahahaha!”

Uh, what?  I looked at the back of the boat.  My crap knot had come undone and now the back of the boat was drifting out.  The Welsh guy chugged down the canal, laughing his arse off.

The Sheepshank Redemption

Other than the standard knot everyone does when asked to tie a knot in something, and how to tie a tie I only actually know one proper knot: I can tie a noose.

That might sound a little weird but there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation: I dated a girl who was in the scouts and she taught me how to tie a noose.

I should explain she was sixteen, in the venture scouts and I was sixteen too.  And she wasn’t tying me to tent pegs in the middle of a field to play with my gingganggoolies.  No, she taught me to tie a noose, which she loved teaching people because apparently it’s illegal.

This taught me one important lesson: any girl who takes joy in teaching you how to tie supposedly illicit knots isn’t worth going out with.  Seriously.  If you’re on a date and she brings out a length of rope in the middle of the restaurant then do a runner.  You can thank me later.

So yeah, I can’t do knots either and now this looked like it was going to be yet another enormous problem.

Things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

Then two hoodies appeared.


For those who don’t know what a hoodie is, they’re basically surly teenagers who prowl in groups and are prone to petty theft, vandalism and random physical violence.  They get their name from the hoods they always have over their heads obscuring their face from the attentions of CCTV cameras.  The standard procedure in London when you see hoodies coming towards you is to hide your valuables, grip your iPod tightly and avert your eyes so as not to attract their attention.

Their sudden appearance at this moment was like being swallowed by a whale, landing in it’s stomach, only to be confronted by a couple of hungry looking hyenas.

One of them stood next to me, silently, as I struggled to tie a rope.  Thankfully my iPod was on the boat.

“Do you want a hand with that?” said the jolly wee chap in a Welsh accent.

“Uh, yeah.  Could you tie up this end and then I can tie up the other end.”   I’ve never been so happy to see hoodies in my life.  Him and his friend did a terrific job of pulling in the boat and tying up.  They helped me out in exchange for nothing more than a brief chat and the grateful thanks of a couple of townies.

Their work done they set off on their bikes, undoubtedly to aid some other clueless idiots.

Giving Up

So thanks to some help I’d got the boat tied up but realised I wouldn’t be able to do it again on my own.

I couldn’t bear to set off again because I was so bad at steering the damn boat that it was stressing me out.

In short: I was crap when the boat was moving and I was crap when the boat wasn’t moving.  The boat doesn’t have another state of being so, short of it suddenly deciding to adhere to the laws of quantum mechanics, the future of our holiday looked really bleak.

I decided to call Mackenzie and, as manfully as I could, beg him to take us back to the boat yard.

One way or another the boating aspect of this holiday was over.


We spent the next four days moored up.  We sat in the boat drinking wine, admiring the beautiful view and feeding the ducks that swam past.

We didn’t go anywhere.

That suited us just fine.


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