As a special treat for my parents, my sister and I organised a trip on a barge for the day on the Ashby Canal. My Mum had always fancied a canal boat holiday and was therefore keen to try it out. We hired the boat from Stoke Golding, which is only a 13 mile run from our house (although we did have to get up quite early to get there on time). None of us had been on a barge before, so were grateful for the hints and tips from the hire company. We were less grateful to know that the boat had just come out of the paint-shop and was very sparkly.
Our first observation was that although the canal was calm, it was quite windy and this did impact the ease with which one could steer the boat. You couldn’t just steer in a straight line, there were always corrections to be made. And the steering was very delayed, so if you continued steering in a direction until you were going in the direction you wanted to be and then turned the rudder back again, you found yourself going in the wrong direction the other way! We had fun, as I’m sure you can imagine. We could generally cope with the straight sections fairly well… but some of the early narrow bridges were challenging… I think we were trying too hard and going too slowly, which made the boat respond to a change in direction even more slowly. Anyway, after ending up diagonally across the canal a few times, we soon mastered the art and most of the remaining bridges were expertly navigated.
After a couple of hours we moored up and had a delicious lunch courtesy of my sister and then returned to canal navigation. Everyone enjoyed the day and learnt how not to steer a barge. Mum is glad she had a go because now she knows that she probably doesn’t want to spend a week on a barge!