Tuesday 1 March 2011

St David's Day – Licensed at last

So finally we're legal. If, that is, we were in a position to travel to Great Haywood, get everything ready for cruising, summon our courage, manage the marina maze and manoeuvre out through the entrance on to water owned by BW, without causing permanent damage to our boat, someone else's boat or the local ecosystem.

What I really mean is – I sent the fee to BW and they haven't yet returned it as being the wrong amount, or for some error on the application form. Mind you, they haven't sent me the licence yet either. Well, it seems from the blogs that waiting for a licence is a fairly normal part of a boater's life.

But now that the cruising part of this adventure has come upon us, at least in theory, I'm nervous. The engine switch and tiller are the least of my concerns. I don't yet have a sensible checklist of must-have equipment, but in my imagination it grows daily. It's both comforting and scary to visit the boating forums – they're filled with the friendliest people, who all seem to be intimately acquainted with the skeg and quite happy to weld a piece of tubing where it's needed. I'm a weird mixture of the impetuous (we decided on the Erin Mae in an hour) and the pernickety-cautious (analysing all the reasons not to do something). If something goes wrong with a house, at least you're not usually drifting towards a weir or getting claustrophobic and deisel-fumed 300 metres into a tunnel!

So I think we'll sign up for an Inland Waterway Helmsman's Certificate course. Anyone who knows a good place to do one is welcome to leave a comment. As is anyone who remembers how they felt on the run up to their first trip in their own boat.


  1. Hi Martin

    Best guy we know if Terry Robertson of TR Boat handling:




  2. Also very good are David and Wendy Beamont at Wildcat enterprises based at Fenny Compton on the Oxford canal, www.wildcatenterprises.co.uk. Very patient and unflappable! We did our helmsman certificate with them in 2008, when we had our first share boat.

  3. Bruce, Mo & Mike,

    Many thanks for these suggestions. Both look good places to do the course. We'll see about matching our dates with theirs.