Friday, 23 January 2009

Still Afloat

Having introduced boating into the mix, the tumbling memories about how it all began have been rattling around, keeping me awake for about three hours in the middle of the night. To set them free I need to go back to that last week in May in 1973. Three generations, comprising of six adults and four children need a whole lot of 'stuff' to see them through two weeks on the Norfolk Broads.The three separate branches of our family tree packed themselves, their clothes, their provisions (well, who could tell when we'd find a place to shop in the wilds of Norfolk?) into a small mini-bus, and the epic trek began.
I will gloss over the actual journey, as anyone who has taken four kids on a two hundred mile drive in an overstuffed, slightly rattly mini-bus, will be able to write their own script.

Like all good things, the trip came to an end and we piled out at the correct boatyard and manhandled multifarious bags, cases, boxes and bags aboard the swish cabin cruiser that was to be home for the duration.

A grizzled boatyard aficionado climbed aboard to give us the low down on how everything worked, then started up the engines and took us on a short trip so's he could could explain the finer points of steering such a mammoth beastie safely past all the other boats moored nearby.
Dad was designated Captain, and after about fifteen minutes, we nosed back to the landing to drop off the instructor. Well, I say 'nosed' because it sounds better than saying we more or less charged head on towards land, with all of us holding on tightly to prepare for the imminent crash.

We discovered what fenders were made for.

Be that as it may, we pootled off with only a minor altercation with a nearby yachtsman as we got too close to his swish craft, and my brother had to fend off the collision by lying down on deck, and using both legs to avert disaster. Could have been a nasty accident, but the gods were on our side and both he and the yacht were unscathed.

All went smoothly, and I got myself organised in the tiny kitchen, as I was designated Galley Slave. We spent the rest of the afternoon settling in, and by the time we moored alongside some grassy bank for the night, we felt we'd truly arrived.

Now, May in England is not necessarily prone to high temperatures. As dark descended, it grew decidedly colder. Boatyard aficionado had explained the workings of the heating system, but as there'd been a lot to take in, Dad had failed to note the whereabouts of the very important switch that'd set it in motion. Luckily, there was no shortage of blankets, so once we were tucked in our bunks, there was little chance of hypothermia!

Four children were in the aft cabin ( get me being nautical) then Gran and Grandee, next Me and Mine, then Bro and His in the large living area where the banquets did clever things and turned into beds.

Children dropped off to sleep easily, after all the excitement. The rest of us kept up a Walton like dialogue late into the night. Eventually even we began to get dozy; until soothing slap and gurgle of tiny wavelets against the hull were suddenly obliterated by an almighty 'Wallop' of a noise. All three females leaped into action, barging into one another in the tiny passageway which lead to the children's cabin, dreading what they'd find there.

My small son had managed to fall out of his narrow bunk, and as a concerned Gran scooped him back into bed, he uttered the immortal words 'Who moved the boat?'


  1. You were designated Galley Slave? That's even higher than Captain, Jinksy!!

    Thank you so much for your generous comment on Verse and Worse. I'm so glad it brings a smile to your face!

  2. How beautifully written, and funny! MH

  3. What a wonderful delightful story! I adore your verbs!!! And great ending--I giggled over your Galley slave note!!

  4. Dear Jinksy, will you please remind me to ask you if you have any ideas for a fitting title for my future blogposts?! Because your comment would have been The Best Title EVER!!!! And now I will read your post of today. According to the commentators it should again be a funny one.

  5. Very warm and funny, Jinksy - just like you!

  6. That's a line to remember. I take it that there's a difference between a cabin cruiser and a canal boat? Is a cruiser bigger and for larger rivers?

  7. Kids! Don't they just add so much to every event? :) I've got a kidlet-related family episode, crudely drawn, up at the blog today too.

  8. AC - A cabin cruiser was the KING - positively palatial; slightly shorter and wider than a canal boat, its fibreglass body sported a narrow walk way around the outside of large living area and cabins, with a canopy type roof, which had a central section over the 'driver' to slide back if you wanted to sniff the air, and a well at the blunt end to give another seating area,with access to the engines. Home from home, indeed.

  9. A WoNI - Warm or simply hot uder the collar?

  10. This really sounds like a fun time, despite the near misses on accidents. More, please.

  11. Lovely stuff - how I love the broads. Being on a boat is a bit like playing at house, isn't it? The wildlife is fantastic and it is such fun to row off down the broad whenever you feel like it. I was always a bit scared of giving way to sail on a windy day when all the sail boats were busy tacking. I did enjoy this post.

  12. I'd forgotten that lovely old Pommy word....'pootled. I'll pootle off and have a cup of tea now!


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