Reflections of an Ancient Boater—Essential Items

Published: Wednesday, 28 October 2020

WITH the restrictions due to coronavirus being now on a county by county basis, things just became more complicated for extended cruisers, writes Ralph Freeman.

This is particularly true of the Llangollen Canal, as I seem to remember it criss-crosses the border between England and Wales several times.  Wales now has it's own coronavirus rules just to complicate matters further!

Given this situation, I am intrigued by the idea that someone in a position of authority, in a far away metropolis, can define what are my 'Essential Items'?

Essential Items—clothing

Clothing is classed as non-essential I understand.  Maybe it's me being a bit old fashioned; but being an 'Ancient Boater' when boating in winter, I consider, clean thermal vests and socks, (plus long-johns!) and fleece tops to be essential items.

In times of lockdown, if facilities are closed, i.e. laundrettes or marina facilities (think ABC Leisure?) then the most hygienic option is to bin what is dirty and buy cheap, clean replacements. The option of washing/drying stuff on-board my boat is limited due to the energy consumed plus the water needs to be at 60Cplus or the virus may persist. Besides, the last thing I need at this time of year, is damp washing onboard the boat.

Maintenance items

There are also maintenance items like drive belts, hoses, alternators, pump, and even nuts, bolts and clips to consider. They are likely to prove 'essential' in the case of a breakdown.  If 'non-essential' hardware stores/chandleries are closed then where are we to go to buy the spares to fix a breakdown?

Real world

It's often been suggested to me that living on the Cut means I don't live in the 'Real World'.  My answer is always of the form:

"I generate my own electricity and can run for several weeks at a time with no need to rely on gas, water, electricity and other items from your, so called, Real World.  If supplies of just electricity were severed to your house how long would you cope in winter I ask?"

No central heating, freezer defrosting, no electric kettle etc.  How many homes now have a fireplace/chimney and someone with the skills to light a fire to keep warm, boil a kettle or heat a bowl of soup I wonder?  Besides, many boaters, myself included, have small, quiet portable generators too as a backup.  Remember all the stores like B&Q, Wickes, etc are almost certain to be closed!  So I'll leave it to you to decide who lives in the 'Real World'?