Friday, 28 July 2017
I have been reflecting on my cruise as I approach the end of this particular adventure. I have learned some lessons and thought I would record them here, mostly to remind myself of them when memories of the wisdom gained begins to fade.
1. Don't set targets.
On previous cruises, I decided each day where I wanted to get to, by what time and would record the locks and miles done. The problem with deciding in advance where I would stop was that I would become increasingly anxious as my chosen spot grew closer, in case something would prevent me mooring there. I sometimes spoilt the journeying by worrying about the destination. The recording of times, miles and locks tempted me to become impatient if anybody held me up and occasionally I would take silly risks at locks as I had put myself under a time pressure. Giving up wearing a watch really helped with this one.
2. Be an explorer.
Connected with the point above, I have learnt not to pass by somewhere that I fancied stopping at. I have found unexpectedly beautiful walks and met unexpectedly friendly people when stopping on a whim. Of course you have to have enough time to be able to do this. So I deliberately allowed masses of time to travel a relatively short distance.
3. Embrace the unexpected.
Again linked with the above point, I found things happening on my cruise that threw what plans I had made into dissaray. I was delayed at Newbold for a while because of a stoppage at Hawksbury. It allowed me to rest. I also found a wonderful walk (from behind the Church if you are ever there). I was tempted to fret about the delay but largely managed to relax about it as fretting would not have encouraged CRT to mend the lock gate any quicker!
Even a very sad occurance can have a silver lining. My friends Roger and Shirleyann joined me for a cruise on the Thames. However Shirleyann's mother was taken very seriously ill, forcing Shirleyann to jump ship and fly immediately to Canada. Roger stayed behind and cruised back to Banbury with me so he could take all their stuff off the boat when he had fetched his car. Last year Roger and I had had a falling out during another cruise and I felt that it had coloured our relationship since. This time, with the two of us thrown together without Shirleyann to mediate, meant that we had a chance to mend and deepen our friendship.
4. Let snugglers be.
This is still a work in progress! Snugglers is a term I coined for boaters who find me moored out in the middle of nowhere, miles from anything and decide that what I really want is company and so moor right by me - they snuggle up to me. I don't mind this when there is limited mooring or I am moored at a recognised site. But I found it certainly intrusive and sometimes even an aggressive act to invade what I saw as my personal space when there were plenty of other spots to moor. What this cruise has taught me is that my personal space is my boat and not the outside world. I actually have all the privacy and solitude anyone could ever need. If another boater has the need to moor close by for their own sense of security, then who am I to object?
5. Don't underestimate myself.
I have discovered through cruising that I can achieve more and be more than I ever imagined I could. I can cope physically and emotionally with tough challenges and the only limits were the ones I placed on myself. There was an advert that had the tag line "Don't let your fear stand in the way of your dreams". Well amen to that!
It occurs to me as I write this that these cruising lessons aren't bad ones for life in general!