Visitation from Wales

Thursday 16th June, Gloucester Docks

In a past life Boatwif used to run a Drama Club for school age youngsters. Routine was all-important. Enter the room, sit in a circle to confirm names and plans, continue with warm-up games…  One favourite warm-up was called “Captain’s Orders”.  In this activity the objective was to react fast to “the Captain” as she / he issued orders: go to port; go to starboard; dance a jig; scrub the decks, etc. It taught participants to listen well and to react to specific instructions – and it was fun. This morning Cleddau’s own Captain issued an order – at a rather unexpected moment.

 It could have been a very unhurried start to the day. The Captain had made a pot of tea for Boatwif and then departed to purchase a newspaper. By the time of his return Boatwif was just completing a delicious session in the shower.

“Are you dressed? Quick! We’re moving – to the best mooring there is – NOW.”

The engine roared into life, there was the sound of ropes being untied, there was motion as the boat lurched backwards, then veered to the left, then spun round. With just  two feet from boat to pontoon to spare Boatwif burst onto the front deck, clothed, somehow, and leapt off to secure a rope. Nb Life, the Universe and Everything (No.42) had left, so Cleddau could take her place, enjoy much easier access and wide views across the water.  The order was obeyed, the task was accomplished. A moment later the lock keeper strolled past from the lock: “Good morning,” he bade, as Boatwif stood there in her rope-holding but hair-dripping state.

It is hard being Captain: plans must be made, responsibility must be taken, opportunities must be seized, crew discipline must be maintained. Sometimes, though, it is, well, not too easy to be crew!

Today the crew of Cleddau were inspected by Senior Sister and Salty, the brother-in-law, across from Wales. These two had been boaters themselves and had plied these waters, the Sharpness Canal, the rivers Severn and the Avon many times. Cleddau’s external paintwork, the interior layout, the fittings were all examined and discussed. Photographs of her previous guises were pored over. An adjournment for lunch to the nearest eatery was called for – why Foster’s on the Dock, of course! The afternoon drifted by, constant entertainment provided by boats arriving in the dock from the south through Llanthony’s Lift Bridge and the north via Gloucester Lock.

Time then for a stroll. See how the warehouses have changed usage! See the shape of that barge, the design of that cruiser. See the wind generator race on that boat. See now how the tall ships’ masts are buffeted in the breeze. Then to the dry dock. EXCLAMATION!  There, on props, being painted, was the elegant 1930’s copper-bottomed ketch, Halcyon. This is the very vessel on which Salty had done his sea training at Southampton School of Navigation! There was his porthole. Up there was the charts desk. Out along the bowsprit he had had to scramble – pre current safety net days. Now she is much used on charter trips.

The stroll continued, past the bridge, now secured for the night, wind-created waves lapping on the canal.

Visit over – inspection passed!

Then more activity on the water – three whalers, young sea cadets at the oars. Cleddau’s moorings gave a grandstand view of instruction given and fun created for the next maritime generation.

        Tomorrow to Tewksbury.

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