Sunday, 28 July 2013

A bit of a eureka moment - men are from Mars...

Due to all this 'going to France' stuff we have to have an ICC (International Certificate of Competence); part of which is the 'Inland Waterways Helmsman's Certificate'. Thursday was the day that this happened and the excellent Phil from Canal Experience came out to MR to spend the day with us - as did Sue from No Problem as it was a fixed price for up to 3 people. Now, as most of you will be aware, I don't do helmsmanning (because I'm crap at it and it's bad for our marriage) - I do do locks, swing bridges and dog walking (which I'm quite good at).
I could, of course, have ducked the whole issue as only one of us needs it but I have long been frustrated at my inability to drive it given that I live on the thing and should I ever hit G over the head with a mud weight should anything ever happen to G, I would still want to live on a boat (although preferably one I could see over the top of).
I was not looking forward to making a pratt of myself - especially in front of 2 such experienced helms people. The first question was, 'do you have a visual image of how the tiller works?' followed by the statement,  'to day you are going to practice doing it the way you SEE it,  not the way G does it because you are wired differently and he's always going to try and make you do it his way which is the only way he knows.
Eureka! Ok, I'm still crap but I now have a way of doing things and enough confidence to get it wrong and put it right. A number of you passed me today and may have been a bit shocked to see me sitting up here
 Just in case I became over confident, G put another obstacle in my line of vision
 but the dogs were quite chilled
Travelling down to the last lock of the day with another boat, Sue and Vic were there to open the gates for me so I couldn't practice my single gate entry skills (just as well I would be bound to have cocked it up in front of such a revered audience).

Before I go, I must just tell you that the Phil asked Sue to wind MR (which she's never driven before) in a bit of a swamp and in a very tight spot - Sue quickly realised that she was in for a multi multipoint wind and was going to have to wind  MR in thick mud and then reverse back through a bridge hole.
G and I were watching from a distance when MR's tiller caught in the silt and Sue tried to reverse the tiller across. Woops, off it came in her hand (your honour).

"Oh dear," said G, "I forgot to warn her about that" 


  1. Congratulations Jill & Graham :)
    Graham is 'so thoughtful' too, having a 'quick release' tiller and making sure that Daisey can keep her eye on everything too ROFLMAO

    1. Thank you Kevin, Sue was soooo impressed with the 'quick release' tiller she thinks she may install one on No Problem. She's just about forgiven us enough to be allowed round for Sunday lunch.

  2. Firstly...a blog post eureka!,,
    Secondly, WE'LL DONE YOU!!!!
    I hope your confidence grows and grows, excellent news!

    1. Thanks Lesley, my preference will always be to stomp the tow path but now, if I need to move MR on whilst he is at his Mum's I'm happy to do it - providing there is not a breath of wind!

  3. Oh, good for you! I made myself a bit of a rule... that I must steer for at least 10 minutes every day we cruise. That way it sort of became second nature rather than avoiding it for days or weeks (like I did at the start) and then having to mess about trying to get it right when I had a go again.

    The "eureka" moment for me was when we had friends aboard who needed coaching at both locks and steering so Mick was off doing locks and I had to steer - through bridges, past boats, into locks and avoiding steerers every bit as bad at it as me. I don't know why but suddenly I could do it all. I've not looked back.
    Do keep it up now that you've had a good start. My "helmsman" day was a waste because I was too scared to try again for about another 3 or 4 weeks.
    Elly (nb Parisien Star)

    1. Thank you Elly, you are absolutely spot on about doing it on a regular basis. The morning after doing the course I KNEW I had to go for it or it would all be back to same old so I took her up through the lock, winded her and brought her back before handing over. I've tried to do half an hour here and there every day and not avoid it so it's feeling more natural. I'll always be a tow path girl at heart though

  4. Hi Jill

    Are you sure you needed to do the Inland Course? I haven't but Deb did a long while ago but it didn't exclude or count towards the ICC course.

    Our ICC was more about man overboard and roping / handling skills, fire safety and general emergency situations.

    Did you have to fill in a 4 page ICC application form and send it off the RYA? Tip, if you both join the RYA you will get the ICC certificates for free on a membership fee of £65, instead of £80 for non members. OK its only £15 but it will by something, and you will be a RYA member for the year.

    Have you done the CEVNI part yet? We did yours at the same time.

    Basically I'm concerned you might not have done the fight course. I will send you a copy of my ICC by email.

  5. I have spoken to the RYA and they told us to take the helmsman Certificate and the Online CEVNI and they will then issue us with the ICC.
    Will catch up with you both soon
    Regards G.