Did I tell you about my friend Rosey’s boat? Well, her parents have a river running past the bottom of their garden. Actually, river is a bit of an exaggeration; it’s more like a fast flowing wide stream if you know what I mean. For years there was a little wooden rowing boat on the bank. Blue and white it was. In fact, Rosey can’t remember a time when it wasn’t there but she’d never seen it afloat. Over the years grass had grown up all around it, and even a few plants had taken root inside. A few years ago a family of mice took up residence!
A couple of summers ago Rosey decided it would be fun to try and return it to the water. Her father assured her that the sad old boat was good for nothing but firewood, but undeterred she made it her holiday project.
She cut away the grass and flowers and found that the boat had been stood on bricks well off the ground, so that was good news. It looked pretty solid despite all those years of neglect. She picked herself a bunch of flowers from the plants growing inside before clearing it out and assessing how much work was to be required to get it seaworthy! The easiest way she thought, would be to plonk it in the water and see if its bottom was waterproof. After much huffing and puffing, she managed to launch it into the stream. Immediately it decided to take off on its own leaving Rosey standing on the bank wondering what to do. Rather than aim straight ahead, the little boat bobbed up and down and turned broadside. This was fortunate because it straight away got caught by an overhanging branch which impeded its progress allowing Rosey time to rush the garden shed and grab a length of rope which she used to secure the craft to a stump.
On the face of it, it appeared that all that was required to bring the boat back to its former glory would be a couple of sheets of sandpaper, some paint and brushes. Little did she know! Just to make sure nothing further would be required she decided to step aboard and have a close inspection of the inside. Once aboard she stood for a moment or two with her arms spread and her knees buckled as she tried to balance. So far so good. Until that was, there was a loud crack and the heal of her shoe went straight through the deck! She stood there for a moment wondering if it would have been more sensible to have worn flat shoes! It was when water began to swirl around her feet she thought it prudent to head for the shore and abandon ship. Once on terra ferma, she set about dragging the boat back up the bank where she turned it upside down to inspect the damage and formulate a plan of action.
As far as she could make out, one the planks which made up the ‘hulk’ as she called it had become detached from those on either side. The solution surely would be to nail it back in place, and armed with a hammer and a handful of six-inchers she set about restoring the errant plank to its normal position. Now Roseys is not stupid. She realized that she would need a little more waterproofing and a short search of the shed was successful in providing her with a can of silicon. This she squirted it all around the repair before deciding that she could never consider a breast implant after seeing what silicon looked and smelt like!
Rosey remembered seeing old films of bottles of champagne being smashed against the side of ships when they were launched. It seemed like a good idea (even though she saw it done in the movie the Titanic a few days before it went under). But there was no way she was going to waste a whole bottle on her little boat, so she gave herself a well-deserved plastic cup of bubbly before banging the bottle on the boat sending a bit of wood from the front flying up into the sky. It didn’t look as if was particularly important so she changed into sensible shoes and commenced the grand re-floating. Armed with a small spade (she couldn’t find an oar) she once again clambered aboard and started to hop, very carefully, up and down to see how successful her repair had been. It was then she screamed. In retrospect six-inch nails had not been the best choice, two-inch ones would have been far more suitable and wouldn’t have stuck up through the floor waiting to be trodden on. After a few choice expletives, she decided on a mind-over-matter approach to her injury. She still had her hammer with her so she bashed them down in order to avoid future accidents. All appeared to be satisfactory so she sat on the seat and untied the rope. Time to embark on her journey downstream.
As I said the water did flow fairly rapidly, and not in a straight line. It sort of swirled at the same time and despite Rosey’s best efforts with her improvised oar, she remained at the mercy of the wild eddy beneath her. It was as the boat was slowly spinning around she sensed her feet were getting wet. A bit late now, but it would probably have been a better idea if she’d bent the nails over rather than hammering them down. Now, the only progress she was making was downwards, so she decided to leap out of the floundering craft and just hope that the water wasn’t too deep. She needn’t have worried as she landed on the stream’s bed with a jolt; the water not even reaching her knees.
As she stood there wondering what unpleasant wriggling water creatures were swimming around her legs she decided that the whole idea was not, on balance, a good one. She’d save her fun afloat for when she meets a wealthy young man with a yacht!
A few months later on Guy Fawkes Night, Rosey stood with her parents watching a magnificent bonfire as fireworks hissed and crackled painting the sky with a palette of colour. And perched on top of the bonfire was the little blue and white rowing boat. Rosey’s Dad was right. It really did make very good firewood!