Hooked on cruising
Tony and Pauline Fry started off hiring for annual cruises, but that wasn’t enough so they bought a share but that still wasn’t enough, only getting their own boat would do
My first memory of boating was in the early Sixties when I joined my father and an uncle on a small clinker built fishing boat to which my father had constructed an open cockpit for limited weather protection for our daily fishing trips in Poole Harbour. While I enjoyed eating the fish after our trips, I didn’t enjoy the seasickness which sometimes ensued, so sea boating did not last long.
But in the early Eighties, after marrying my wife Pauline, a brother-inlaw suggested a week’s holiday on a narrowboat. With a family crew of six adults and two young nieces we obtained copies of Nicholsons and spent many hours plotting our route on paper. Eventually, the departure date arrived and we travelled up to Gordon Pleasure Cruisers at Napton and found we had a 65ft steel narrowboat with fibreglass top complete with sliding cabin top amidships. We were instructed in the operation of the boat and given verbal instructions on how to operate locks. Then we were away, heading north towards Braunston. I couldn’t steer the boat to save my life and my kind niece made paper ‘L’ plates which were pinned to my jumper. Entering Braunston Tunnel I bumped my way from side to side, but by the time we emerged out of the north portal I was trimming the rudder and keeping a straight line. All was going well until I tried to negotiate Norton Junction heading north, which was not successful even without another boat in sight.
Two days later we eventually arrived at Market Harborough in the dark. We returned to Napton and still had two days remaining, so headed down the South Oxford to Fenny Compton and back.
The following year we cruised the Four Counties Ring with the same crew plus our year-old-son, completing the Ring in a week starting from Norbury Junction with another 60ft cruiser stern narrowboat that we selected from a Hoseasons’ catalogue.
Soon afterwards, Pauline was pregnant with our second son and so, with a young family, we decided that we should for the time being try alternative holidays.
Over the next few years we remembered with great fondness our earlier boating holidays so, in 1994, we booked an extended family week with Willow Wren in Rugby and cruised the Warwickshire Ring. This was followed in 1995 with a week on the Mon & Brec with
Locks Boat share narrowboat Onyx at Bosley