As a reward for the students help on the recent Horse Boat Project, I had promised them some boat handling training. “You can drive the boat instead of walking alongside it!” But first it was time for Merlot to come down stream to Leeds. Another couple of cadets offered their assistance and again used their new skills to operate the locks. “A different operation as the boat is now going downstream”
|Bilbo waiting to start its epic journey - unnoticed and unheralded but bringing heritage to life!
Merlot pulled away from Shipley Wharf leaving the warmth and friendship of this little community to take on the “unchartered” waters of Leeds. We were accompanied by Chas in his boat “Can I share with you as I am single handed and it is impossible to operate the bridges on your own.” He explained to the young people the pleasures of living on a boat but also the difficulties. At the end of the day I asked Charley, one of the cadets, why she had got involved in the project. “When we were asked to volunteer I didn’t really understand it. I thought it was unique but I thought it would be boring, but it wasn’t. I really enjoyed it but to-day has been a 100 times better.”
|A view of Leeds as we bring Merlot downstream
I thanked them and made the last stretch on my own. I left Office lock to enter the iconic splendour of Granary Wharf and moored her underneath the sentinels of Candle House and the Hilton Hotel. Merlot had arrived in Leeds to start the next stage of her life as a community boat enabling communities to access the waterways with a focus on creative inspiration and family engagement, combining three interests of what little I know of this generous stranger in America.
|A view of Thwaite Mills as we negotiate a new home for Merlot