The Amateur Mariners

dutch canal boat 2Best to watch and paint – a different occasion – Giethoorn (Netherlands)

‘Report’ (Circa 1990’s)


The constant humming sound of the boat, as new waters were found, played a musical accompaniment to the direction of the sun’s changing rays, as we stood tense and ever watchful lest the children innocently, would fall overboard.

The humour of being able to say for the first time ever: ‘Man overboard!’ was a short-lived laugh, when we considered I couldn’t swim and the horrible image of any of the children hitting the water, came to mind.

At the close of the day, I went down below and cracked my skull dropping the video camera that was never the same again.

Rising up, next day, from the bunk, with a rising bump, I went through the morning holiday routine and we were on our way through the lake’s waters to our next port of call.

Never before had I been a ‘sailor man’ and never would I look like Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen again, after this…

…After this tense, pleasurably unpleasant, expedition of nieve first time triers distracted and pre-occupied with guarding their young child companions.

Juxtaposing ourselves with harbour bank and boat deck, it arose that I would steer into capstan, while the wife would stand ashore and direct me in.

There she stood agile and expressive with raised arms beckoning and directing, having gone shopping ashore earlier in the day.

Suddenly, I realised I had not seen that signal before. What did she mean? I couldn’t see any obstruction. The arm went from side to side in continuous loop fashion. It got increasingly accentuated the closer I got to land. ‘Turn!, turn!’ she shouted.
‘What’s your problem’, I thought. There’s still plenty of room to manoeuvre.

There wasn’t.

It was quite a large dent in the hull. Made by a protrusion below the ‘captain’s’ eye level.

I’d blown it.

The straw that broke the camel’s back.
The crash that put paid to the holiday.

The amateur mariner was experientially convinced, that as a ‘sailor’, he would make a good ‘printer’.

But the epilogue of the story was the smallness of the bill we had to pay for the damages.
Furnished by the sympathetic owner of the boat. We got off lightly!

To return another year, having learnt?
No way Jose´, not on your Nelly, never in a million…

Terra firma – here we stay!


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