Sail­ing ex­pert and trainer to the TV stars, John In­man has come up with per­fect ad­vice for the Prime Min­is­ter

Canal Boat - - This Month -

Lock-keeper John In­man looks af­ter TV celebri­ties on the cut

1 What first at­tracted you to the wa­ter­ways?

An off­shore yachts­man had a small baby and went on hol­i­day. That was over 40 years ago, now I have to lend him and his fam­ily the boat.

2 Which is your favourite canal?

The one I haven’t been on yet. I love ex­plor­ing.

3 What do the wa­ter­ways have to of­fer the coun­try?

Peace and tran­quil­lity even in the midst of the bustling masses.

4 Tell us about your boat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence…

Started sail­ing at the age of seven in the So­lent, stuck to cruis­ing as I couldn’t af­ford to race yachts and keep break­ing them. I am re­ally a nat­u­ral canal man, but all the off­shore ex­pe­ri­ence helps some­times.

5 Have you ever fallen in?

I refuse to an­swer that ques­tion in case it hap­pens, but life­jack­ets are a good idea.

6 What do the wa­ter­ways need most?

The for­ma­tion of Canal and River Trust has en­abled a struc­ture to be in place that lets peo­ple like me vol­un­teer and con­trib­ute more than money. Lots of us with years of var­i­ous work ex­pe­ri­ences should just get stuck in and help as look­ing af­ter it all is a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing.

7 What are you read­ing?

Other than Ni­chol­sons usu­ally a crime novel. Maybe I should write one on a canal... Bank rob­ber es­capes in nar­row­boat!

8 Who would be your ideal cruis­ing com­pan­ion?

Lor­raine Chase was a lot of fun, though I might strug­gle with my blood pres­sure. Theresa May could prob­a­bly do with a break on a nar­row­boat.

9 What did you want to be aged 12?

A mo­tor rac­ing driver. 60 years later its 4mph.

10 How was your TV ex­pe­ri­ence?

Great fun to be paid for. I have had pre­vi­ous me­dia ex­pe­ri­ence and am used to that en­vi­ron­ment. Once you ac­cept the wait­ing about and just re­lax its great. Plus I love teach­ing on the water, it’s very re­ward­ing, hence my ac­tiv­ity as an RYA in­struc­tor with Cast­away Canal Boats near Bath.

11 How were the stars ?

They were re­ally very good. Given that they were all ner­vous and were taken aback with 60ft-plus boats they were or­di­nary peo­ple just like any other RYA can­di­date or a show out that I do from time to time at Sally Nar­row­boats in Brad­ford on Avon

12 Any other brushes with star­dom?

Too many to men­tion, but the most re­cent was David Dim­bleby at Brad­ford on Avon lock when I was work­ing with CRT as a vol­un­teer lock keeper. We had a great chat whilst his wife man­aged the boat. He was on a 75th birth­day jaunt with a cou­ple of days on a boat and then planned a big fam­ily lunch at a canal­side pub.

13 What are your fond­est mem­o­ries of the wa­ter­ways?

Driv­ing a nar­row­boat from Bath to Dundas on the Ken­net and Avon for a TV pro­gramme which was to­tally silent and filmed in one take. I was given one hour and 55 min­utes to do the jour­ney, not 54 and cer­tainly not 56. It’s the only time in my life when I helmed a nar­row­boat with a stopwatch round my neck.

14 What do you think of peo­ple on the canals?

Ab­so­lutely won­der­ful. There is ca­ma­raderie amongst the ma­jor­ity of con­tin­u­ous cruis­ers, and mostly the vis­i­tors are just grate­ful for help and po­lite guid­ance. Us reg­u­lar boaters and vol­un­teers just get along – it’s great.

15 What is your proud­est achieve­ment?

My son. What else can one say. JOHN IN­MAN

16 What would you like to see hap­pen to the wa­ter­ways in your life­time?

Ad­e­quate fund­ing from a na­tion that fi­nally re­alises the amaz­ing legacy left by Brind­ley, Telford and Ren­nie, and al­lows de­vel­op­ment in the con­text of progress with­out al­ways scrimp­ing and sav­ing.

17 How’s re­tire­ment?

I don’t re­ally know, I’m only 74 and haven’t re­ally tried it yet

18 What were your pre­vi­ous jobs ?

I started life as an en­gi­neer but found gen­eral man­age­ment and run­ning busi­nesses far more ex­cit­ing. Ten years in na­tional news­pa­pers were great fun, you get to meet amaz­ing peo­ple and see as­pects of life that are hair-rais­ing.

19 Where in Bri­tain would you most like to cruise?

Un­der a con­stant sun on an in­land wa­ter­way any­where in ru­ral Bri­tain, per­haps in the Pen­nines, but maybe I should try the south of France for the weather.

20 What would your su­per­power be?

The abil­ity to see round blind cor­ners and through over­hang­ing trees, and sur­vey a boat by just look­ing at it. X-ray eyes and ul­tra­sound ears would an­a­lyse the hull and save on sur­vey fees. Sorry sur­vey­ors.

John In­man with Lor­raine Chase, Nigel Havers and Deb­bie McGee

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