Not that we were racing of course, in fact Mike let us go first the other morning, and we vacated our lunchtime mooring for them the next day. Yesterday we were only moving a short distance, so let them overtake us to ensure they got the best run at the locks. Life on the canals is supposed to be like that, slow and mutually co-operative.
Some people just don't get it.
This evening, as Betty B was shuffling into the lock that would take her down to the harbour in Nancy, we hung back as is usual, waiting our turn. I didn't need a calculator to tell me that after squeezing twenty-eight metres of steel barge into a thirty five metre long lock, nothing else would go, but apparently the bloke in the fourteen metre cruiser sending surf across the canal was of the view that if he entered the lock fast enough perhaps HE would.
In an effort to get his attention I stood with my head through the hatch and screamed across the roar of his engines in my most non-confrontational voice in something I hoped approximated his native tongue,. "Hey Dumbkopf! There's a barge in the lock";
That might have worked had in the process I not absented myself from the wheel and left our dear "Joyeux" to his own devices while I did so. The slow arc we were scribing in direction big ugly cruiser was what seemed to attract the attention of the skipper more than anything. This, while not intentional on my part, admittedly from the perspective of a fourteen metre cruiser travelling in close quarters at twice the speed limit, may well have been misinterpreted as a rather aggressive attempt to force him out of the water, which I stress it was not. This was not a good thing, but it did distract him from his race for long enough so that he did actually notice that the lock was in fact not to put too fine a point on it; "chockers".
It seemed to be at about that exact moment that another pair of immutable facts sunk into his thick scone: There were actually TWO boats in front of him in the queue for the lock, and as soon as dear Betty B left the lock, the lights would be turned off for the night.
Possibly unsure of whether he would find pleasant company beside the lock for the night, he was last seen heading in direction opposite, more slowly than I was later reliably informed, he had travelled all afternoon.
As soon as he was out of earshot, the skipper of the second boat shouted in our direction :"Hey, it's YOU! The ones from Television! You are from Australia!"
Err….. how did you recognise me when I was wearing my sunglasses?""
"You were wearing them on TV too!" he replied with a chuckle, referring to last year's Saar Television spot.
And yes another marvellous evening ensued aboard Albert and Doris' little cruiser, which as a result is now somewhat depleted of a fine range of Saarland gastronomic specialties!
I wonder if they'll frame our autographs?