Friday, 23 July 2010 11:23

Boats and Ropes

In July Sally and I were on the boat on the canal, just moored up and doing a bit of cleaning and maintenance. Gently cruising past us came a narrowboat with a rope trailing into the water from its bow (that’s the front bit).

Now, a trailing rope can be a serious hazard to boaters since if it is long enough to reach the stern (that’s the back) it can (most often does!) wrap itself around the propeller with some disastrous result – and amusement for unsympathetic onlookers. Even if it is not long enough for that it could wrap itself around the propeller of a passing boat.

So, imagine the scene. A happy holiday boater is gently cruising along in the sun and innocently passes a boat going the other way. They will be quite close since most canals are not very wide. A trailing rope, too short to reach its own propeller feels the soft pull of current generated by the other boat and casually drifts over to enmesh itself around said propeller on the other boat. Two boats which, a minute ago, were calmly navigating still and silent waters, are brought to a sudden communal halt by some unknown force. This unremitting force will probably join the boats in a traumatic embrace with each helmsman shouting abusive swearwords at the other.

Until realisation suddenly occurs and a red-faced boater has to confess to the trailing rope.

By this time, of course the canal will be well and truly blocked by two boats, each of which wishes he were in some other less congested place. It is a truism that whenever you screw-up on your boat there are always many people watching. (I remember one occasion when I fell in the water just as I was leaving a mooring right outside a very busy pub with hundreds of people sitting at picnic tables! I had not even been in the pub, I was just waiting for the lock.) It can take a long time, ruined rope and a wet and disgruntled boater to free such an object from the propeller.

Now, imagining this frantic scene, I leaned out of the cabin door and helpfully shouted to the helm that there was a rope trailing from his bow. Did he express eternal gratitude at my civil concern? No, he grunted a sort of boat-y sounding huff and proceeded to run into the bridge just in front.

Chagrined, I turned to Sally who said with patient sympathy, “do you always get that response when you shout helpful hints at people?”. Which of course set me thinking – and that is the subject for another blog !

And, by the way, my new website will be up soon, complete with blog page.


  • Comment Link alex Friday, 23 July 2010 16:33 posted by alex

    hahah this guy was probably greek !!! always speeding with their boats !!!

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  • Comment Link Sally Friday, 23 July 2010 13:17 posted by Sally

    And a jolly good website it is, too! X

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