My trip to Lydiate set off a whole train of thoughts.
When on the tiller I always get comments like: Oh, my wife wouldn’t think of steering the boat. And: One doesn’t see a lot of women steering narrowboats.
So I know I’m a relatively rare species.
But what does the wife do when something happens to the other half? And they are in the middle of nowhere?
Some men say: Oh, my wife knows how to steer the boat.
Yes, but I realize now that steering the boat is not the issue here. If the man is in bed, or, even worse, is not there at all, the woman is a single hander. Which certainly adds a couple of new dimensions to narrowboating!
The fact that you have to take your own decisions. And deal with the consequences… Like: do I desperately try to moor in front of the CRT barge or do I take advantage of the wind, let WRT drift to the other side (where I can moor safely), and take it from there?
The fact that you only have two hands (only one when the other is on the tiller or holding a rope), when you would need two hands on the middle rope, and four more hands to hammer mooring pins in.
The fact that you are 57 kg (at least I am) and you need to hold 18 tons of WRT in a gale force wind.
And all this is without mentioning doing locks and (swing)bridges on your own, identifying possible engine problems, keeping an eye on your batteries and cleaning the propeller every few hours.
I think every wife should take out the boat on her own, for a weekend or so. Because if all problems add up: something wrong with husband + strong winds + locks/bridges + the first time doing this on your own… YOU BETTER HAVE SOME EXPERIENCE!