I spent a not unpleasant half hour fishing one afternoon. Quite a few boaters, including a few work-boat handlers, came across me fishing, in fact they rather kept disturbing my attempts. Not that I could blame them I suppose.
I’ll try and picture the scene from their perspective. There, in the middle of nowhere, is a quiet country lock, dropping about 10 foot. You moor up and wander over intending to fill the lock. You find that there is a man on his knees on the edge of the lock, staring down into its depth, about 15 foot down in all. As you approach you see that he appears to be fishing, with a string. Eventually he looks up at you, a bit sheepish, as he gingerly lifts the string, bit by bit from the water, on the end is a large magnet. “lost something?” you ask. ” mmm, yes, a new windlass, but never mind you carry on and fill the lock. I’ll have another go once you’ve gone”.
The exchange was repeated several times that afternoon, frequently followed by such advice as “Why not wait until it’s quiet and back your boat in so you can fish from the stern?”, “It might not be where it fell in, it could have got washed away as the lock filled, you know”, “It is a steel one is it and not some strange non-magnetic alloy one?”
The thing is that I had allowed myself to be rushed along by a very helpful hire craft crew, and I had not put the windlass properly in my holster. It was my fault, always stay methodical and insist on doing things in a lock your own way, that you know works.
One young lad trainee work boat handler moored up with a 70ft traditional boat. He was also interested to see if I had found anything. By this time I had pulled up a surprising amount of rusty steel plate, some bits bigger than A4 sheets, that had evidently fallen off the bottom of passing boats over the years. He watched as I inched the string up. There was definitely something heavy on the end, inch by inch, trying not to jerk it at all, until about 12 foot lay on the lock side and I felt down towards the submerged magnet. I am sure we were both holding our breath, he whispered that the string looked too taught for a windlass. I wish I could have taken a picture at that moment.
Now if this was one of those dreadful television knockout competitions we would have to wait before the winner is announced, but I won’t keep you, nor the windlass in suspense any longer.
Yes, my submerged fingers closed around my new windlass, and held it aloft as if I had won a football cup.
Now I know that in terms of cost of labour that would not have been worth doing, but.. sometimes fishing can be fun, and harmless.