In the last post I mentioned the help given by the engineer at Cowroast marina and it is remarkable how much people do go out of their way to look out for others on the canals and help them if needed.
A while ago one of the commercial boat owners noticed that an old boat, which was not in good condition, was gradually getting deeper in the water. He found out that the owner was away and not able to do anything to stop it sinking so ensured that the Waterways Chaplaincy, along with someone from the Canal Ministries team, knew the situation. Then he lent them a battery pack and pump so they could pump out the excess water and save the boat from sinking. This all cost time and effort but it is what happens. They look out for each other even when they are strangers. Some may be comfortably off and chose the life style, some may be virtually living on air, for a few others it is their means of earning a living. There are those who are competent and yet have a mishap, others are total novices and are somewhat to blame for a situation but when trouble comes most boaters first reaction is to stop what they are doing and help.
It is a refreshing attitude.
I was reminded starkly of this when we finally managed to finish my little trip this week. We were some distance from a lock and I could just make out that there was a boat exiting it. Because it was so far away I drew attention to ourselves by a flash of the tunnel light, hoping that the other boater would see us approaching and not close the gates.
Getting closer, through my binoculars I could see he was holding back behind some moored boats and was waving us to come on past. When we got there we could see he had two fuel boats breasted up (tied side by side), had pulled in for us and was waiting for us to pass so he could carry on. This was a pair of heavy 70 foot boats, some 3 foot of draft when laden, with only one motor and steered by just the one rudder. He joked, loudly, as we passed that pleasure craft are supposed to give way to commercial traffic. He then had to manoeuvre that pair of beasts out and around the moored boats, not a task I would relish.
Can you imagine the equivalent happening on the roads? It would be like some huge truck train with right of way pulling into a tiny lay-by, on your side of the road, behind a parked caravan, to let you drive past on his side of the road in a motor home. All I can say is it may happen, but I don’t often see it when I am on my bike.
But why the difference? I think it is because you either accept the slower pace of life, that time is no longer critical, or you get off the canal. You can not fight it, canals run slow. A walker who stopped to help me with a lock joked that he was hoping to get a NVQ (National Vocation Qualification) in lock keeping. I let him know that on the canals NVQ is the universal philosophy, Not Very Quick.