Legends from our own lunchtimes

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gratuitous Misty Canal Photograph

When we awoke, we were in a forest.

Because that is where we were when we went to sleep we counted that as a good thing. The fact that the time was somewhere around seven was also a good thing, as we had barely wasted any of our canal travel morning.

However there was a sound emanating from somewhere in the forest twilight, barely audible above the rustle of the tyres of the cycle commuters along the cinder tow path that was mildly disconcerting.  Rain on a fibreglass boat roof, even when it's barely more than mist, makes a noise we have discovered that is only marginally louder than the sound of silence, but it is ever so much more meaningful.

It means for instance that I can take my first "this is a canal on a misty morning" photograph of this season, even though the reflections aren't perfect, but more than that, if we were to move (which we were) then one of us would have to be out in the rain at every lock, while I would have to sit inside warm and dry in command of the ship, in awe of Gortex and its ability to keep most of the other of us reasonably warm and partly dry even in the squalls. Before either of us could say "perhaps we'll wait till after breakfast" I had Mr Perkins spluttering and the dock lines free. There would be no turning back this day. It was Strasbourg or bust.

Happily, the rain stayed away most of the morning, except for the bits when we were stationary in locks and one of us had to be outside. Actually mostly the day was grey and sultry and perfectly still, except at the odd occasion when a lock approach was particularly difficult with the odd obstruction or perhaps we had an oncoming barge or two to contend with, at which time gale force squalls would appear from nowhere, then disappear as quickly as they came as we survived each test.

The conditions became more testing as we inched against the headwind through the commercial shipping lanes adjacent to the Rhine and I seriously began to contemplate what might happen if we tried to berth in the conditions. Once again though, a serious contemplation was wasted as the sky cleared and the wind died entirely the moment we arrived in the Strasbourg Motor Yacht Club basin. 

Even better, mistaking us for a hire boat, what seems like dozens of helping hands and at least the entire yacht club committee arrived from nowhere intent variously on ensuring we were moored securely or at least without damaging anything on our approach.

After we were happily moored and had completed the formalities for the next four days, the long suffering and terribly friendly club treasurer discovered to her horror that she had made a mistake.

It appears that she thought that we, having a distinct lack of understanding of her language, had mistakenly ticked the "Private Ownership" box in her form, when clearly we had meant to tick the "No this boat is not privately owned" box, and she, being the responsible adult in the crowd, would forgive us just this once and overlook our error. 

When she discovered that we were indeed a "Private Boat" and that she'd popped us into the last of the places apparently reserved for the hire fleets for a brief moment she seemed inconsolable.

The kindly older gentleman who spoke our language seemed unconcerned, as yacht club commodores often are, but tomorrow we will know whether this last storm has blown over as smoothly as the others today!

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