Press Release

August 2008


Towed in a windy hole!

On the 22nd and 23rd of August, 'Two Tars' namely you’re Grand Sheik and Mike Ebbrell (Ebby) the Ships C.A.T. undertook a two day narrow boat handling course, at the Top Lock Training centre in Marple.

On the Course it is assumed that students have no previous experience and is designed to give confidence in handling a boat safely on the inland waterways. After a morning classroom session that comprised of essential safety aspects of narrow boat operation, we were now ready to set off along the Macclesfield Canal.

The first hour was spent steering and getting used to the boat. One advantage, the Four Seasons does not have a full-length cabin, so the 'Saps at Sea' had a good view of how the bow was responding. As we proceeded along the canal, Malcolm explained the system of horn signalling, i.e. one long burst to make other 'Sailors Beware' of your presence etc.

The next step was to turn the boat around in a winding hole! A winding hole usually consists of a notch in the canal bank opposite to the towpath. A turning boat inserts its bow into the notch and swings the stern round. In the days of horse-drawn boats this was accomplished by utilizing the prevailing wind, hence the name! We however were instructed to put the bow into the hole, hold it there - let it go aground if necessary, keep the tiller hard over, and apply a healthy burst of revs to the propeller. The bow will be held against the mud of the shallow part, and help 'pivot' the whole boat slowly round. You'll almost certainly need two or three extra reverses, and even more if 'the wind that blows' is blowing the wrong way!

On the last day of the course after Mike and I successfully moored the boat without inflicting to many  'Berth Marks' to the narrow boat, we formally completed the course with an award of a RYA (Royal Yachting Association) Inland Waterways Helmsman Certificate.

We both enjoyed our time with Malcolm and Alison and would recommend this course to anyone who fancies the idea taking charge of a narrow boat. So don’t settle for 'Any Old Port' but steer a course for Top Lock Training and I’m sure you sure you will find a warm welcome waiting.