Not playing the game…

Moored at Bugsworth Basin

In a previous “life” Boatwif used to run a weekly Drama Club. It was never the intention to produce West End stars, Hollywood babes or would-be celebrities (although there was one past student who did gain an Equity Card before reinventing himself as a CDT teacher).  Drama Club was about developing self-confidence, becoming a reliable team member, being imaginative, developing ideas, learning to respond on cue, participating in productions.

At the start of each Drama Club session Boatwif would gather the members (some as young as nine, the older ones thirteen) into a circle on the floor, do news and register and then start some warm-up games. A favourite was called Captain’s Orders. The drama space was a pentagon shape, ideal for this particular game. The pointy end of the room became the BOW, the straight back wall STERN, the windows side of the room was PORT and the opposite wall (the piano side) was STARBOARD. The Captain (ie the person controlling the game) would call out instructions and the participants would race to fulfil them. “Report to BOW”, “Captain’s Inspection” (stand in line with a right hand salute), “Go to STARBOARD”, “Enemy Attack” (lie flat on the floor), and so on. But the favourite instruction always seemed to be “Scrub the decks”. This could cause the odd bruised knee as students fell to all fours and would often induce stifled giggles. The Captain could strut about urging lazy sailors to scrub harder – or risk being thrown overboard to the sharks…

This morning Boatwif reported to the Captain, he already outside amassing a pile of boaty equipment from the roof onto the gravelly surface alongside, ready to wash the boat.

 “What do you want me to do?”

“Well, you can clean the decks.”

And that is how Boatwif’s  morning was spent, first clearing the front deck of matting, the Cheshire One’s pink fishing net, the pot of mint, the little pot of flowering cup campanula (Tesco, yesterday), spare fenders and all manner of paraphernalia. Then began the sweeping (so much dust, grit, flakes of dried mud and rust}; next came the washing – bow locker, sides (inside the deck and out), the cabin front, the side locker and finally the deck itself.

Job finished, Boatwif reported back to the Captain. “Now start the back deck.”

While on hands and knees, scrubbing, yes, literally scrubbing the back deck, the Captain’s Orders game swam back into memory. In those days of Drama Club and productions and lesson preparation and curriculum planning and pupil assessments and targets and departmental meetings and so much else there was no time for a post-working life dream. If there had, would any dream have actually included scrubbing boat decks…??

As the morning wore on the winds blew and various folk passed by, most walking their dogs. Comments were made about the amount of work to be done, the scale of the task and so on but always the remark was added “But it’s going to rain.”

Prompt at 12 noon the first raindrops fell – and continued to fall in varying degrees of severity for the next five hours. Did the boat washing and deck scrubbing get completed?  Yes. Was there any time for polishing?  No. 


Well, if the deck scrubbing and boat washing was the warm-up (Act 1) was there drama to follow?

Boatwif claims no role in Act 2, she being off-stage (at Tesco) at the time.   Apparently nb Tiree arrived during a heavy bout of rain, lost nerve at proceeding further into the unknown Upper Basin (a huge space but largely invisible until within it) and attempted to turn in the Middle Basin Arm, becoming completely stuck, stern in the opposite bank and bow  wedged in the arm. The Captain, (he says), donned waterproofs, rushed off Cleddau and shoved the bow away to get the boat  to swing back round.


            Act 3: Boatwif seeking fresh air, a change of scene and a newspaper, strolled down to the supermarket. The rain had slackened but precautionary measures (donning the most waterproof of jackets and the gaiters, carrying an umbrella) were taken. Showers, light rain, heavier rain saw Boatwif arrive at Tesco dry from head to the bottom of her jacket and from knees down but wet down the thighs. No matter, the trousers would quickly dry. She dawdled around, made three purchases, browsed aimlessly while rain thundered on the roof, paid for goods, dawdled more – then set off. Across the huge rain-swept car park, under the horse tunnel under the canal, up the other side, back on the towpath. Umbrella up, rain not too bad. Pottered on… The Lower Basin in sight, not far now. Paused by the IWA Preservation Society notice board. All well – then a sudden squall, umbrella unable to cope, wouldn’t collapse, wouldn’t stay up! The squall intensified, visibility gone, water lashing everywhere, no sign of the steps down to the Middle Basin Arm… Boatwif, absolutely wetter than ever before, arrived back at the boat… tore off her top and wettest layers, hung them about the front deck, now covered by the cratch.  Not a tragedy, more a comedy… “If you’d taken your phone,” said the Captain, “you could have called a taxi”.

And as if to have the last word he proclaimed: “Occluded front!”

Captain’s log:             For the record, front deck last washed at Stratford-upon-Avon, June 2011. Boat last washed at Sutton Moorings, Weaver Navigation, April 2012.

Captain’s Note:  After much persuasion (pointed frequent comments) and conversations bordering on nagging about the amount of dust accumulated by Cleddau I reluctantly agreed to wash her from end to end. I washed and rubbed down the top (53ft by 6ft) and both sides (53ft by 4ft 6 inches X 2) whilst the Joint Owner graciously cleaned the fore deck (5ft by 6ft) and the rear deck (2ft 6inches by 6ft). However, I know my place and must bow to the extraordinary effort contributed by the Joint Owner.





You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.