Friends will attest to my occasional piratical tendencies, to wit the inviting of self on board other people’s boats, shoving them off the tiller and occasionally even sending them off for an alternative weekend while I abscond with their property. This smiling assassin strategy has resulted in some excellent larks including the Queen’s Jubilee Flotilla, trips from Limehouse to Gravesend and to the Medway, a crossing of the Wash, and a number of up and down tootles on the Thames Tideway.
Yes, folks, never use your own boat where there’s the risk of mild peril…I am particularly indebted to my best chum Sue Cook who was so trusting with her boat Indigo Dream, which for a period a few years back was essentially our southern fleet member…Adventures chronicled here.
We’re off shortly for some more continental piracy as we simply couldn’t leave our friends Jill and Graham and their gorgeous Dutch barge Francoise unmolested any longer. I mean, it’s been at least nine months since their Tibetan terriers Baxter and Mutley attempted to repel boarders – even though we brought gifts! – so more than enough time has lapsed to lull them into a false sense of security.
It’s a wonderful long weekend in prospect because a) we love Jill and Graham to bits and miss them from the UK canals, b) it’s France, what’s not to love, and c) I get to hog the wheel and play big boats (including surprise packages, see the PS)! I will confess that on our first visit last summer, my Jolly Roger spirit went a bit AWOL as this was a bit of an unknown, steering by wheel, in a much bigger boat than I was used to, on unfamiliar waters. Wimp!
However, after a morning’s patient tutelage by Graham, the piratical urge returned full throttle and no-one else got a go, basically. It was fab! And, a la Michelle of the Resistance, I’m only going to say this once…but bow thrusters rock! Well, they do on a barge and yes, I know that for centuries skippers have manoeuvred huge boats around without the need for girly buttons but… I thought that as compensatory aids for my nascent talent at the wheel (and as preservers of good relations seeing as I didn’t want to dent a pal’s precious property) they were very cool and much appreciated. It was a totally top trip along a portion of the Canal lateral a la Loire, the sort of hols that has you googling ‘life change’ and looking up the A Vendre signs in boat windows and postulating ridiculous ideas to your increasingly vexed husband. No, I don’t exactly know what I’d do with a 40m peniche either but that’s just details, details, I tell you!
So we’re back off there shortly, somewhere on the river Marne…there’ll no doubt be scurrilous things written later on their super blog https://contentedsouls.com but for now it’s au revoir to the UK and hoist that Jolly Roger up the car aerial!
P.S. Jill sweet-talked a young capitaine into letting me have a go on this – most terrifying five minutes of my life!