|My first lessons|
But somehow it sort of "clicked" after 3 days and the steering became sort of automatic. I managed to keep a straight line and even got around bends - still screaming "John, help me" every time I was about to crash into a bank or wall. My straight lines sometimes looked very zigzaggy, but I started to feel more confident.
|Going into a lock after a bridge|
|Perfect lock approach|
The most difficult part though is going through locks and it took over a week until John would allow me to try that. But to my big surprise I seem to have a hidden talent for locks as I never crashed into one despite the fact that the locks are so narrow that there is just centimetres of water on either side of the boat when in a lock! When approaching a lock I felt like a pilot trying to land a jet on a airplane carrier on the ocean. Again you have to get the angle 100% correct before you enter the lock as you cannot steer once the front of the boat is inside - and the front is almost 18 metres away from where you are standing and trying to figure out which way to go. Also you have to approach very slowly or you are not able to stop the boat before it hits the front of the lock.
The worst is over once you are inside the lock but you still have to pay attention. When water comes rushing into the lock while going up the boat is bashed around a lot. In a single lock this is not too much of a problem but when alone in a double you have to be very careful not to damage the boat. Boats have fenders in the front and on the back which lessen the impact when hitting a lock gate a bit. When going down you have to watch out not to get stuck on the cill - or you will end up like the boat in the picture. This is one of the worst possible accidents for a boater as you cannot float the boat again without drowning it - you have to get a crane to lift it out.
|Opening a lock gate|
|Threading into a tunnel|
Don't take a wrong turn in a canal as turning around in a boat is a difficult operation. You can reverse in a boat, but steering in reverse is almost impossible. Basically you just hope for the best and correct by going forward again. By the way: Braking is also done by reversing.
|Disappearing into a lock|