Hooked on cruis­ing

Canal Boat - - Me & My Boats - WORDS & PIC­TURES BY TONY FRY

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

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