Sea legs. Don’t have them yet. You’d think being moored in a sheltered marina would keep things stable, but you’d be wrong. This tub, as balanced as it is, rocks and rolls like crazy, especially when the hulk moves through her….that would be me. My best friend gets quite woozy when I start moving about on our 58ft narrow boat. Water tends to be fluid you see, calm or not.
Nearly two weeks on the young lady….the boat….and I find myself swaying at odd times when ashore. I was visiting my favourite pub here the other lunch time and as I sat at a table to write in my journal, a pint of cider at hand, when I felt the whole room swaying. Gently mind you, but there was definite movement. It hits you at the oddest times. My first experience was when I sat on the marina toilet (no, I haven’t got a potty fixation), a land based object and felt the room rocking from side to side. Quite disconcerting really. Especially if you’re not used to it.
I know some of you have your land legs from being on the sea, but I don’t. After all, this is an island I’m living on and the sea is all around me. Most Brits, I’d assume, have spent time on the water. No Google (Alphabet) stats for it that I can find. An aunt and uncle of mine love to go on cruises, but those large ships have amazing stabilizers and you’d never know you’re on the sea. Back in February when I was coming back from Amsterdam, I had to take the ferry across the English Channel to Dover. The Channel was smooth that night, but the rocking was notable. Walking along the deck was a challenge at times. I felt that rocking motion for a short time afterward, but nothing like what I am experiencing presently. Even as I write this our narrow boat is swaying side to side, especially when either my best friend or I get up to go walkabout.
No stabilizers on these vehicles. Tied by ropes to a mooring ring or peg, the boat has free play in the water, calm or not. I can feel her move beneath me now (remember now, I’m talking about the boat) and it’s all very normal. The abnormal occurs off the boat. Wibbly wobbley legs and rocking motion when there isn’t any. It comes and goes, but sometimes it happens at extremely inconvenient times. And may I say, alcohol doesn’t help the situation, even after just one pint. So, here’s my wibbly wobbley embarrassing moment.
I’m in the Red Lion for lunch, all by myself. My best friend is back in London slaving away at work. I’ve been in every day for lunch because the food is terrific and delicious and the staff is most friendly. It has the oldy worldy pub atmosphere too, complete with walls slightly askew, wood beams to frame the walls and ceilings and uneven floors. You can see where this is going. One afternoon I had my usual lunch and a pint of cider. I wrote in my journal and watched people come and go. It’s a very popular place and always full. Once I’d finished my meal and my pint, I went to the bar to pay. I did so, no problems. But as I turned to walk away, it hit me.
An attack of the wibbly wobbleys…. the worse on yet. I could not get my feet to do what I wanted them to do because the room was swaying. One pint of cider? Not possible. I knew it was the boat’s fault at this point. I half turned, staggering, my backpack knocking into a patron, causing him to spill some of his ale. I apologised. As I turned again to head for the door, my left foot failed me and I careened into a waitress coming out of the kitchen. Fortunately, she was carrying only a rack of condiments. When it fell to the floor, the bottles scattered but none broke. Another patron had stood by this time, grabbed hold of me and said, ‘Steady mate.’ Again I apologised, explaining it was a touch of the wibbly wobbleys from being on the boat.
“Ah,” said the patron, “You’re on the boats at the marina?”
“Yes,” I said. “I haven’t got my sea legs yet.”
“Did you have a drink?” he asked.
“One pint of cider.” I said.
At this point, the pub owner laughed from behind the bar….good thing I had got to know him….and said, “You’re cut-off mate. Best go back to the boat and sleep it off.”
I got out of the pub reasonably well after that. They wouldn’t let me help the poor young lady pick up the condiments for fear of a relapse. I held on to the wall outside the Red Lion, taking a few breaths of fresh air then continued on back to the boat. No more incidents, but I still wasn’t entirely steady. You know what happens then. You begin to doubt that it is a case of the wibbly wobbleys and surmise that perhaps you are having a stroke or you have a brain tumour or an inner ear infection….any number of ailments. It’s not until you talk to other boaters that you discover you are not unique and that you probably are not about to die from some horrendous disease.
I’ve had incidents since. None as harrowing as in the pub and at least I know what causes the wibbly wobbleys now. My best friend has had them too. One boater told me the wibbly wobbleys caused him to fall into the canal from the towpath when he first had his boat and moored up for the night. Don’t ever want to end up in there. Another boater told the story of his staggering through a village one night after mooring. He had nothing to drink but the wibbly wobbleys suddenly hit him. As he was a stranger in the area, the local constable put him in a cell until he was satisfied the chap wasn’t drunk. Serious stuff.
Just about to head into the village for lunch with my best friend. We’ll be going to the Red Lion. Has to be done….the food and prices are the best around. I’m sure I’ll have to take some ribbing. Never mind, I’ll take it all in good humour. Besides, it’s only the wibbly wobbleys and not my being a drunk or having a tumour. But I shall be hanging onto the side of the boat as I head down the pier. Don’t want to end up in the drink. You don’t know what’s in there. I’ll leave that for another Blog.