Recently, I had accepted an invitation to the Inland Waterways Association boat gathering as part of the Leeds Waterfront Festival. Merlot was already moored at Thwaite Mills so I drove over. The site was abuzz with activity as I opened up Merlot and started to soak up the atmosphere.
I was promoting the N.C.B.A. and had a range of conversations with different people who were interested and supportive of our aims. It was very easy to demonstrate the value of community boating with colleagues from Safe Anchor Trust providing free boat trips over the weekend.
I had taken the opportunity to invite my fellow director over but it is very difficult to hold a meeting when I kept disappearing to photograph the celidah band singing shanty songs on the rear of Amy Hudson. A beautiful atmospheric setting with the wind blowing in the rigging.
Canal Connections is developing a relationship with our neighbours at T.S. Ark Royal and it was interesting to see the many different facets that the Cadets were helping with. Traffic control over the bridge, safety boat on the river, general support and supervision throughout the site.
I took a trip on Safe Anchors new boat and was impressed by the attitude of the Cadets as they took control of mooring. They were rewarded by a boat trip and I was able to see at first hand how they very quickly adapted their seamanship skills into crewing on the narrowboat.
As I walked around the site I again saw Cadets learning new skills as Chris supported them in making a fender – the older generation (!) passing on their skills. I spoke with Elaine who had organised the event. She was giving brass rubbing demonstrations but our discussion generated thought for next year in teaching young people how to learn and pass on these skills at next years festival.
I continued wandering and found the display of classic cars, a healistic reader using an old Romany caravan, and a display of creative arts which had been made over the weekend.
As I returned to Merlot the navigation was filled with Sobriety, a Humber barge, passing the Humber Keel. 2 similar boats providing access, education and conservation to support future generations but in different ways.
Heritage is about caring for the future as much as remembering the past and there were so many examples over the weekend that reinforced the ethos of Canal Connections – it’s not just a boat.