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.