Today was an exciting day - our first day out on nb Parisien Star. We spent the day with Ray, a boat handling trainer who taught us the basics.
We arrived at the marina at 7.30am to have time before Ray got there, to check the electrics, the toilet, the water and the heating all functioned properly. We had the toilet tank pumped out and the water tank filled and the diesel tank topped up. A bit of rushing around it was. I must add that we chickened out and asked the marina guys to move the boat up to the water/diesel/pumpout landing. The thought of scraping someone else's boat fills me with terror.
We headed out with Ray providing verbal guidance along the lines of "tiller left, slow reverse, neutral, tiller right, forward throttle...". I couldn't believe how narrow the bridge holes were and the locks too. We've only ever been on the Grand Union Canal before this and that's a wide canal.
When we hired 5 years ago, this being the sum total of our narrowboating experience, I bluntly refused to steer the boat into a lock and if while we were cruising we came to a row of moored boats (or worse still boats moored on both sides) I'd yell for Mick to come and take over. I'm determined now that I'll force myself to do those things. I won't get any better at it if I don't practice. So, based on that, we did a couple of locks each and a couple of those narrow bridges each.
I really, really didn't want to touch the side of anything and scrape the new blacking off the boat. I didn't do too badly but did scrape a bit. Mick did his best to bite his tongue but not as well at controlling the eye rolling. Oh well.
On returning to the marina, Ray had us each do some maneuvering. I did bail out of getting nb PS back into her mooring - there's a shiny boat right beside us!! A bow thruster certainly wasn't on our list of requirements when buying a narrowboat but it's come as a bonus on this one. We didn't use it for our day out but Ray showed us when it can come in very handy. Yes, I know, I've read the blog posts and magazine letters and articles making reference to boats using bow thrusters. I don't care... we have it and if it makes life easier we'll use it.
Overall it was a great day out and nb Parisien Star handled like a dream. We're looking forward to the day we can handle her with confidence.
Ps. to our non boating readers, a bow thruster is a little propeller at the bow (front) of the boat that you can use to push the front of the boat to the left or right. Many "purists" hate them, saying you mustn't be able to handle your boat properly if you need to use one.
Bow Thrusters....use it...use it..use it. Not once in 6 months has Elaine had to get the pole off the roof of the boat to push us off or fend off, because I happily use the bow thruster.
I have been watching and waiting and today was the day!
It is horrid going through the first locks and bridges when you have had the blackening done. Like you I hate to scrape it!
But I always do at the first lock and I guess most boaters do on the first lock..
After a couple of days you won't worry about it.
Enjoy your boat don't worry about scraping the black.
I have not long painted the gunnel down, maybe not more than 3 weeks and I noticed yesterday morning that I have a right old scratch along that part due to some bankside vegetation by the look of it.. it happens!
You have a wonderful time aboard Parisien Star and I look forward to meeting you very much.
Now you have had your 'first day out' I can add you to the left hand column of the boaters blog page..
I DO hope I can also add you to the middle of the page!
Don't let anyone knock you for using a bow thruster, they are extremely useful and if they were available in ye olden days the working boats would have had them fitted - I don't see the 'purists' boats still being pulled by horses do you?
Have a great time, Jill Contented Souls
Once again may I say congratulations on realising your goal. I wish you all the best in your travels and hope you keep posting plenty while I am left to suffer another glorious spring and summer in WA ... which really isn't a bad second place.
And apologies to Elly, cause I mis-spelt your name last time I commented : )
Congratulations on getting out and about on your lovely boat. I am sure you have now grown in confidence since going out with Ray.
On the subject of bow thrusters. They have their place, but should never be over used. We have seen people using them to steer in and out of locks. They are very handy in tight situations, so if you have one then why not use it?
You will never please all of the people all of the time, but what is important is you know you have it there should you need it.
Happy cruising to you both and we look forward to seeing you out on the water. Jo xx
Sounds like you're settling in well. Don't listen to anyone who knocks a bow thruster, it'll get you out of tricky situations and help you moor in tight spaces, just remember to only use it in short bursts no more than 10 secs. at a time or you'll blow the fuse. When you see some boaters struggling with a pole you'll be even more glad you've got one :-)
By the time you've been cruising for a month you'll be just as good at steering and locking as anyone else.
Thanks for the lovely comments!
Paul and Elaine, I sure won't be worried about using the bow thruster. I'm not one for worrying too much about what other people think. Goodness, we wouldn't be here if we did that!!
Sue, I know the blacking will get scraped but I had hoped it would be Mick that did it first. I haven't seen him out there on the pontoon checking though! :) We'll look forward to meeting you, Vic and the girls.
Jill, Mick liked the comment about the horses. He's going to save that one up!
Marty, I'm planning to try and blog every day. I don't want to forget a minute of this adventure - not even the "not so good" days.
Jo, our day out did make us feel a bit better about the daunting task ahead. Practice.. practice.. practice..
Yvonne, I remember how much more capable we felt after 4 days let alone 4 weeks. We just need to get out there and start cruising! Not long to go now.
Don't worry too much about your blacking. Some of it will get knocked off -- rubbing strakes are not called rubbing strakes for nothing!
We don't have a bow thruster on Briar Rose, and nor have we ever had to lift the pole off the roof. Boat handling is all about practice, so it's best to learn how to handle the boat without the bow thruster -- that way you won't come to rely on, and won't come unstuck when it stops working.
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