Jump to content

The Trial Run

Recommended Posts

Prompted by your "new ideas" topic, a re-incarnation of a posting some years back, in another place. Some of you may not have read it - you may find it of interest, or not as the case may be.

Part One

It is time for the start of your first holiday on the Norfolk Broads. The car is loaded, the crew, plus dog, are ready for the off!

You arrive at the boatyard. Park the car and clutching all your documents you proceed to the reception area.

Hello, my name is Mr Pearson
Hi, now let me see, you are on Tranquil Moments
Is that an omen or what!
The receptionist brings out a form.
Is this your first time on the river Mr Pearson?
Well I did have a trip on a boating lake at Lowestoft several years back, but I suppose that doesn't count
Er, not really as she surreptitiously ticks a box on the booking form.
The receptionist adopts a superior manner.
Car parking undercover is £10.00, Outside is £5.00 and Diving Insurance is also £5.00.
You can't help but think that Inshore Life Boat Insurance would be more appropriate, what the hell is Diving Insurance all about, anyway you pay.

The receptionist smiles benevolently. I'm afraid that your boat is not quite ready at the moment, as she accepts your total payment.
Your stomach lurches. You have that sinking feeling that all is not well!
 It will be about an hour, perhaps you would like to pop into Stalham
No problem “ I'll be back in an hour".

An hour soon passes and you present yourself to reception yet again. All is well the boat is ready!!!

With family, you proceed along the quay, and there she is Tranquil Moments, moored stern on, looking immaculate. You open the door, the boat is spotless.

Right Mother, get the kettle on, and I and the boys will unload the car
Feverish activity takes place as boxes and cases are taken from the car and placed on the boat.
What, you can see I'm busy
There's no water  the taps don't work
You're joking
No I'm not. Nothing works.
 I can't believe it “ I'll speak to the man.

You decide to get the dog on board (it's name is Mafeking due to the fact that it all ways wants to relieve itself)
Mafeking stands on the aft deck, mortified, Refuses to budge, Dogs feet do not like decks of boats. There is only one remedy, a quick boot up the rear, an undignified scramble in the well of the steps. One problem resolved.

Salvation is at hand. The trial run driver appears.
His name is Darren (All first born, in Norfolk, in the mid 1980's were called Darren)
Darren is 20. During his informative years, from 14 to 19 he used to converse in Neanderthalian grunts to his elders. Now, having mastered the art of conversation, he finds it necessary to end each sentence, or comment with the word right This gives him confidence that he has been understood.

Hi, my name is Darren. Right
You're ready for you trial run. Right
 Yes  were ready
Tell him about the taps darling
I will, I will.
Darren gives a knowing smile. (I'm starting to warm towards him already)

 might be continued, right!!

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part Two

The family is on the boat. The Trial Run Driver, Darren, Gods Gift to Blakes, has arrived and has been presented with the first problem. No water!

Have you turned the pump on mate?
The Pump? What pump?
The Water Pump
Darren takes that as a no, and strides purposefully towards the middle cabin. He points down towards to what ostensibly looks like a light switch.
There you are  it's off - "right"
He switches to the on position. Immediately the sound of running water, from all the taps heralds whoops of delight from Mrs P.
Darren, flushed with success, details the GRAND PLAN.
First I'll show the outside of the Boat “ Right"
Then the inside “ Right"
Then we will go up river “ Right"
Sounds good to me “ Right"....................................... You can't believe you said that.

On the deck Darren explains the fixtures and fittings:
This is the toilet pump out fitting “ where they pump the toilet from
I see. How often do you have to do that then?
Darren makes eye contact for the first time.
Depends on how regular you all are
How do you know when it's full?
Don't worry about it. Over breakfast one morning it will be the topic of conversation, then will be the time.

You both progress further along the deck.
Darren points a foot clad in a somewhat neglected trainer at the next deck fitting.
That's the diesel filler cap “ you don't have to worry about that, you have enough fuel to circumnavigate the broads for three weeks" (You don't believe him)

The next fitting is examined after a suitable pause.
This is your water filler cap. The water goes into the Wonder Tank
The Wonder Tank Eh! You wait with bated breath, what technological marvel will be disclosed.
It's called the Wonder Tank because all week you will wonder how much you have got in it
Er! Has it not got a gauge or something?
Darren looks at you as if you are demented.
No, just keep it topped up
The conversation regarding this particular subject seems to be finished.

Well that's the outside bit, we'll go inside and I'll show you some more, and then we will go up river

A ripple of excitement runs through the crew......to be continued?

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part Three

Darren has sorted out the water problem and concluded the tour of the decks. It is now time to explain the inside of your craft. You follow respectively and enter the aft cabin.

Darren opens a door on the left handside, which to all intents and purposes looks like a cupboard. It resembles a Tardus. Inside there is a shower and a toilet. The former being self explanatory is summarily dismissed. The toilet however requires closer examination. On this boat it was installed by Roger, one of the tallest men in Norfolk. Subsequently this particular variant has been designed in such a way that all who patronise it find themselves perched about three feet up in the air.

You both gaze into the bowl. Your first impression is that such a contraption defies all known logic.
Darren breezily explains :
When you have finished, close the lid (think about it)
You then reach out to the back here, over the bowl ................(have you closed the lid?).......... turn this valve on, turn that valve off, pump the handle briskly for a couple of minutes, turn the valve off “ and there you have done it. Or not, as the case may be!
You make a mental note to use shore toilets whenever possible.

Now for the engine
I'll follow you Darren

Surprisingly Darren enters the middle cabin. Followed by you, the dog, and the children.
OK you guys, there is not enough room for us all in here
Oh Daaaad
No. Out of it. Go and feed the ducks or something.
Darren folds back the mattress and removes a wooden panel. Lo and behold the engine!!!
Phew! What an awful smell
Darren looks a bit phased. Can't understand it. Must be the bilge. I'll put some Bilge Sweetner down “ that will cure it

Mafeking rolls his eyes towards the ceiling, with a baleful stare, and with tail between his legs sneaks out of the cabin.

You notice that the engine is made by some chap called Perky from Peterborough, Darren by this time is engrossed in explaining, dip sticks, water filters and a thing called a header tank. You nod solemnly.

Right “ that's the engine bit, now I'll show you how to start the beastie up.
You follow Darren to the Bridge. Well. It's not really a bridge, more a panel with a few dials and a wheel in front of it.

That's the rev counter “ shows you how fast you are going.
You attention is drawn to a conversion chart, and relates revs to miles per hour.
(in practice this instrument is as much use as an ash tray on a motor bike.)
When you start the boat first of all take it out of gear by pulling this little silver button out “ like so. Now turn the key to the heat position for one minute, then turn to the start position like so.
Perky at the back, groans and grunts like a geriatric threshing machine.
And then, when all seems lost, Perky rallies and with a triumphant cough splutters into life, and it must be said, goes from strength to strength.

I think that we are ready to go up river Says Darren, having recovered his composure.
I'll undo the ropes
Let me do it Dad
No. You can do it next time
Oh Daaaaad
Don't worry your Father “ you can see he is a bit stressed.
Yes Mother

(This stress will pale into insignificance as the day progresses)
.........................to be continued.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part Four

Darren, having completed the tour of the inside of the boat is ready to go down river as the final part of the trial run.

Darren expertly manoeuvred the boat out of the mooring and nonchalantly stood at the wheel.
You keep to the right hand side of the river and remember to keep the revs down “ now if you'd like to have a go
You hang onto the wheel as if you were on a white knuckle ride.
Very good “ just ease it to the left a bit, not too much. Now to the right a bit.
Thankfully the river is straight at this bit.
You progress down river, with Darren offering words of comfort.
Now I'll show you how to turn the boat round. No, stay at the wheel and I will talk you through it
Slow down, a little more reverse, that's it. Turn the wheel over to the right. Now, gently push the throttle forward “ can you see the stern coming round

You daren't look.

Now a bit in reverse “ not to much “ we don't want to hit the bank do we? Ha! Ha! Ha!“ and now forward. There we are we've done it.
You bristle with pride, you cannot believe how easy and how professionally you achieved that which looked impossible.
(You will remember this moment at St Olaves a few days later!)
Before you knew it you were back at the boat yard where Darren showed you how to moor side on to the bank.
If you would like to turn the engine off, sign the completion form and away you can go
You turn the engine off Perky continues to burble contentedly.

Er, how do you stop it?

Oh, sorry, I'll show you, Follow me
You follow Darren into the middle cabin whereupon he pulls at a button on the side of the wall. Perky gasps, stops, starts again and then with a shudder all is quite and still.
The form is signed.
Right then I'll cast you off
Darren starts the engine, jumps off the boat, and unties the ropes fore and aft.
He pushes the bows out with his foot.
Have a nice time
We will, we will. Byeeeeeeee.
You push the throttle forward. Perky builds up the revs.
The boat doesn't move an inch. A bit more revs. Soon Perky is wailing like a banshee.

NO, I don't want a beer

Darling, Darren said Put it in gear

The boat lurches forward, just missing the moored boat in front, the stern gives the side a resounding thump. Well at least it straightened the boat up. You wrestle with the wheel, trying to save some composure.
SLOW DOWN YOU b*$T>d,  Woolly Hat, attired in a disgusting overall, emerges from his boat clutching a paint brush. His lap, embraced a large puddle of black paint - a sporran of thick viscous foul smelling anti foul.

You duly oblige,legs shaking, you proceed down the river - slowly.
"Daddy, Daddy - what is a Bustard?

"It's a bird - now shut up and help your mother.

To be continued

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part Five

The Trial Run has finished The Maiden Voyage for the family has just started.

After about two minutes you realise that your boat has all the handling characteristics of a super market shopping trolley. You turn to the left, to the right, to the left. It refuses to go straight. No matter what you do the thing has a mind of it's own. You desperately battle with the wheel as the boat zigzags down the River Ant.
A large branch, hanging over the river looms into your vision, frantically you turn the wheel, you just cannot believe that you have managed to miss it.

You didn't, a resounding crash from the blunt end says otherwise.

Dad, Dad
We've lost the mop

 give me strength

It's Ok Dad, it's fallen onto the back

This trauma seems to have the desired effect  bit like a cure for hiccups. You find to your amazement that the boat steers perfectly well without constantly turning the wheel. The crew, and more importantly yourself, start to settle down.
After about ten minutes of calm, it is decided that a stop for a cup of tea would be good.

That looks a nice place to moor
No problem, I'll get in as close as I can and you can tie her up
The boat closes in on the bank.
Right, jump, go on jump
The boat hits the bank and bounces away from the bank about three feet.

Tie it up then
What with?
The Rope
What Rope
Quick you boys throw your Mother a rope
Daaaaaaaaaaaad it's fallen in the water
Where's your Mother?
On the bank

A wave of nausea descends at the thought of a week of one disaster after another. They were not made for boating a caravan would have been ideal. More appropriate. A static one would be good.

You manage to turn the boat round and jam the bows into the bank at last the bows are secured.

Hurry, hurry, the back end is coming out
Mother just mangers to catch the last four inches of the stern rope.

Whew! That was exciting. Get the kettle on Mother
The kettle soon boils and the crew gathers round the wobbly table with one leg shorter that the other.

Mother dutifully pores the tea from an incontinent tea pot which drips over simply everything. Soon you are munching into chocolate covered Hob Nobs. Life is good.

A little Coot, ever the opportunist, bobs its way towards you.
Can I feed the ducks Dad
Of course you can

Authors note

Contrary to popular belief (and Bill Oddie) there are only three types of bird to be found on the Norfolk Broads.
LBJ's, the BBJ's and the Duck.

The LBJ's are little brown jobbies. The BBJ's are big brown jobbies.
Ducks are things that float on the water.
They come in various sizes, and the big ones are called geese.
Some people call ducks Mallard's.
Mallard's are easy to recognise.
(a) They eat copious quantities of bread.
( B) They quack a lot.
© They spend an inordinate amount of time engaged in an activity, which for the sake of those of young and tender years, is best described by saying I think they are having a little squabble darling

This should avoid a long and drawn out discussion on the matter.

Another endearing quality of the Mallard is that it likes to prance about on the roof of your cruiser.at four o'clock in the morning.

To be continued...............

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part Six

A pleasant tea has been enjoyed, now to find a mooring for the first night.

OK boys, undo the ropes we must be away
The boys scamper to the allotted task.
You turn the key. Perky rocks and vibrates. You turn the key again, and again. Nothing happens. Perky seems to be getting weaker and weaker.
You start to drift imperceptibly towards the centre of the river.

It won't start

You try again. Perky, by this time sounds distinctly asthmatic.

Darling what can we do
I know, lets look at the weed filter (the only positive thing that you can think off)

That does not cure the problem, there is only one thing for it. To ring the boatyard.

Hello, Jolly Boating, Daphne speaking, how can I help you
(don't you need a Daphne at a time like this)
It's Mr Pearson here, the boat won't start!
The boat won't start? (What is it about the boat won't start that she doesn't understand)
Wait a minute I'll pass you over to George
A mature and calm voice answers.

Hello Mr Pearson, where are you


Do the lights work

Er yes

Is the engine turning


Have you pushed the stop button back in

The what button?

The button you pulled to stop the engine

Er! I'll check

You find that indeed the button has not been pushed in, turning the key, Perky roars into life.

That's it “ it works “ thank you. Bye.
The anxiety etched upon the faces of the crew disappears as you proceed down river.

Mummy, is Daddy cross
No, of course not Darling
Why has he got a red face then?

Some will say that it is a brave hirer who attempts a stern on mooring on the first day, others that it is irresponsible.

The next, episode follows.......... the mooring at Gays Staithe

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part Seven

The family has been on the boat for a few hours, with one or two little mishaps. The trip across Barton was enjoyed by all. Indeed there was an air of confidence, of wellbeing, as a map was produced and all agreed that Gays Staithe would be an admirable place to stay for the first night.

Tranquil Moments glided majestically towards the entrance of the staithe, the sight that met them was truly magical. Gaily painted boats were moored stern on against the bank, the green grass was host to children playing, one or two people were fishing from the front of their boats.

What was not quite so magical was the fact that it seemed full up!

Are we going to stop here Dad
Not enough room I'm afraid, we are going to have to try somewhere else.
Well, we must do something darling, Mafeking is desperate
Yes dear (ever the obedient husband)
Wait, look, there is a space, right at the end, next to the white boat with all the aerials sticking up
I can't go down there, it will mean it will mean, I have to reverse it.
Oh don't be so pathetic, I'll help you
Yes dear

There is one thing that you have been able to do, must have been a gift!! You always seem to be able to turn the beastie round. This evening was no exception, without any drama the manoeuvre was carried out impeccably. At least the stern was pointing in the right direction.

At this point it is worth mentioning a phenomena, recognised by anybody who has hired a boat, owned a boat, lives or works on the Norfolk Broads, the phenomena is known as the Reverse Syndrome. It afflicts in the main, the holidaymaker, and of course the first time boater, although it has to be said, it can last for more than one season.

It manifests itself during a period of acute distress, when everything defies principles, that guide reasoning, within a given situation.

The Reverse Syndrome is where the person at the helm presupposes that to reverse a boat, one needs to apply maximum revs in both the forward and reverse gears. The gear lever lends itself admirably to this task enabling the driver of the craft to change from forward to reverse at full speed, in one swift movement  in fact you can alternate between the two in rapid succession, several times during the operation.

Reversing also requires a degree of multi tasking, the head must swivel round repeatedly in order to ascertain if the objective has been realised, and the steering wheel must be rotated from one lock to the other in several rapid movements in an endeavour to direct the blunt end towards its goal.

Right dear  lets go for it
You turn the wheel over onto the right hand lock and put the boat into full reverse. Perky roars with delight.
The boat goes backwards  in a straight line  heading for the bank.

Stop! Stop

You slam the boat into forward gear.
The stern scythes round in a complete ark.
Marvellous, absolutely bloody fantastic. You are pointing down the dyke.

Unfortunately, the wrong way round.

By this time, ducks and coots have reached the sanctuary of the bushes on the far bank.

Mothers have called their children from play.

Curtains twitch.

Men emerge from the stern of their boats, clutching glasses of Chardonnay and Jacobs Creek Shiraz. They stand sullenly.

A chorus of advice in strange dialects, comes across the water.

Put it in reverse mate Go forward Sling me a rope Turn the wheel the other way

You feel somewhat inadequate.
At last you manage to turn the boat around “ again.
This time more by luck than judgement, the stern is situated, more or less in the direction intended.

Full into reverse again, the boat, at warp factor 3, proceeds down the dyke. A well placed foot kicks your stern away from the bows of the third cruiser.

By this time Mrs P has decided that her contribution would be best made at the most vulnerable part of the boat.

The stern.

To assist in this onerous duty, she frantically shouts instructions.
Go left
No go right


All to no avail. Desperately she looks for a solution to the dilemma.
And then she finds it.

The very thing.


To be continued.........................

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

For details of our Guidelines, please take a look at the Terms of Use here.