Well, not just "I", but also Amy along with Liam, Daniel, Kerry and Sarah from the Young Working Boater's Society.
On Sunday morning, we awoke into a fast heating tent-the sun was up, and the day heating up rapidly! We spent a glorious hour or so on Chertsey, drinking several cups of strong tea from the brown measham-ware teapot, and eating pain-au-chocolat in the sunshine.
We also met Bones and Boots, and it was lovely to see them both. Boots in particular seemed very happy on Chertsey's cabintop, grinning away. I think Bones really appreciated a little present from John- a tillerpin, made out of a child's boot last, that John bought from Emmaus- where else?!
(Picture stolen from Sarah)
Amy and I had arranged to temporarily abandon Sarah and Chertsey for the day, and to travel in the parade instead on the Josher Ling, now owned by another Sarah who is a founding member of the YWBS. http://www.workingboats.org.uk/boats/FMC/Ling.aspx
Ling is still in the condition that BW left her in- empty hold with battered plywood shuts, a small cabin with formica bench, a loo (which apparently needed a LOT of cleaning after many years of use...) and a small engine room with air-cooled Lister HB2 engine. There are plans, however, to restore her to full historic condition, when time and funds allow.
I rigged up a support for the banner in the hold, using ex-BW blue polyprop rope- much to thick and strong for them to tie the boat up with, though, they always seem to use blue string!- and the cabin shaft, between the chains and the back-end rail, and we were soon off into the parade.
I was given first go at steering, which was daunting but great fun.
The big problem I found was that because the boat was unloaded and unballasted, it was very quick! It has quite a fast tickover, and because of the very slow moving traffic, it was hard to go slowly enough. I managed to get nicely through the first bridgehole, avoided Pelican- the oldest wooden narrow still extant, I think!- and passed the marina entrance, mostly out of gear, with the occasional burst of reverse.
Passing the marina entrance, just drifting forwards-note the lack of wash from the prop (sorry, blade... must get my working boat terminology right!)
The next part was even tricker- oncoming working boats, returning for the next leg of the parade, and a very narrow channel. I successfully passed Themis in a narrow bridgehole, but managed to suck the stern too close to the bank, swinging the bows in line with Archimedes, towing Ara, both of which were quite well loaded and so hard to stop. I handed the tiller over to Liam who extricated us, only for him to receive the good-natured abuse from Tom on Archimedes for my mistake. Not a bad baptism of fire, though! I could get used to steering 72 foot working boats....
We unfortunately had to jump off the boat half-way through the parade and head back to Cmabridge- there was rowing to do....
But we still had a fantastic weekend, both on Chertsey and on Ling. It was wonderful to see Sarah live her dream, of steering her own working boat in the parade for the first time. I also got to steer a working boat, albeit not my own, and I achieved my own dream. Whilst the Duck won't be appearing on any brokerage pages in the forseeable future, in the longer term.... who knows?