As my description reads on the right of the page there, I am also a RYA (Royal Yachting Association) Inland Helmsman Instructor. This is generally a one-day course (though two days can be accomodated), teaching the basics of safely skippering a vessel on our canals and rivers. Usually, the course is run from our boatyard here in Banbury, on our sweet little 'Dancing Duck' training boat, however I am more than happy to run the course on customers' own boats.
And so I found myself yesterday back on the beautiful Thames (I say 'back', as it's where I 'cut my teeth' so to speak) at Sandford, in the company of two wonderful ladies on their wee 19ft cruiser. Having owned the boat for a few months, they fell in the love with the idea, yet found the actual moving of the boat a tad traumatic (which most people do), especially on the often fast-flowing Thames. So, armed with 'lucky' wet-weather gear (to maintain the warm sunshine), tea, coffee and cake, off we motored - firstly heading upstream through Ifley Lock and then down through the very pretty (and deep) Sandford Lock (pictured).
To cut a long story short, the day was very successful, with both ladies coming away with bags more confidence, and a more thorough understanding of moving a boat. There was also one additional lesson learnt during the day which was most definitely not on the syallabus and very much related to the importance of ensuring there is enough fuel in the tank - how to deal with a boat spluttering to a halt mid river and slowly beginning a downstream journey entirely of it's own accord. The trick is:
a). Don't panic.
b). Hope that there isn't a substantial flow in the river.
c). Pray that a Salters trip boat isn't just 'round the bend.
Anyhow, the boat did drift gently down towards the tow-path, and with some help from a convenient on-board paddle, it wasn't long before we were safely moored alongside the bank. There was an anchor on-board if needed (an essential bit of kit for river cruising), and indeed if there was a substantial flow I may have used it, though in this case it was unnecessary.
It was a fun day, and the river looked glorious in the September sun, and it's not often you can recreate a breakdown mid-cruise!