What a steer…

What a steer...

…I’ve helmed the boat for the first time. I was nervous, but as I took the tiller I very quickly became aware of the weight of the boat, the amount it needed moving to make an impact and the timing of turning the tiller from side to side.

Obviously I’m no expert, but have more confidence in front of the tiller and am more aware of how my actions can steer the boat.

The boater’s handbook advice says to stay in front of the tiller. The reason they give is that you don’t want to get trapped behind it. I discovered that standing in front of the tiller made it easier for me to control the boat and gave me better vision ahead.

You have to concentrate, so it’s not a job you take on with a glass of wine. I think some people think that boating is all about floating along with a glass in hand. You’re manoeuvring 24 tonnes of steel.

There are several things you need to consider when cruising.

Obviously driving the boat, locks and bridges and other canal users. Each of these takes concentration and consideration and a mistake could be very dangerous. Even other people in the group who aren’t actively steering, opening and shutting locks and bridges need to stay alert because they don’t know when they might be called on to help out.

Save the wine until you’ve finished cruising for the day. Then once you’re moored up for the evening, you can wind down and relax.

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