almost double vision

almost double vision

a mayfly-ish adventure begins

At the island the reception committee of Dave Harris, Jenny Cartwright, the Ward sisters and Jess had been waiting by the jetty for about twenty minutes, each scanning the distance for the familiar form of Mayfly.
“They’re not usually so late back,” Em said. “I hope there’s no trouble.”
“They’ll be here presently,” Dave replied reassuringly. “Those two aren’t about to take any chances with you, so everything will have to be right.”
“It’s probably us that’ll sink the thing,” Dee added playfully, to a rather scornful look from Jenny
Cartwright, who had momentarily slipped back into head teacher mode.
“I can see them through the bins!” Dave smiled. “Not a bad little craft they’ve got for you.”
A quick handing round of the binoculars confirmed that there were indeed two boats heading their way.
There need have been no worry as to the reliability of the motor, which had plodded steadily upriver with a solid sounding beat that gave the feeling that, with enough fuel, it could continue in the same way for decades without stopping to draw breath.
“Can we get aboard and see her properly,” Em almost squeaked, in a reprise of her eight year old self, as Amanda drew up at the jetty.
“Let the girl tie her up first!” Jenny said, deftly catching the ropes thrown by Amanda and, to Dave’s surprise, making them fast with very well tied knots of the correct type for the job.
“What?” she added, answering Dave’s incredulity “I was a Girl Guide you know. I can tie knots and dig latrines with the best of them.”
“We were taught, but I never had to dig one at camp,” Amanda replied, also slightly surprised at her former head teacher’s hidden skill. “Right you two. I need to show you round,” she added as she turned to accept the lines from Jim, who had neatly laid Mayfly alongside.

canal boat and bridge

lift bridge

Whilst on the outside the Willow Wisp III was slightly larger than Jim and Amanda’s boat, the inside seemed smaller due to the presence of the small inboard engine which took a fair bit of cabin and cockpit space. Also, the craft was like a miniature copy of larger cabin cruisers, and had not addressed very well the waste of space associated with features such as the sink and galley area. Whilst nice to have the sink in theory, it was too low and fed by gravity from a water tank that took up too much room in the bow, providing little more than a trickle from the tap. The stove was rather impractically placed, and its gas supply took up yet more room. The seemingly more Spartan arrangements on Mayfly were preferred by both parties, but, this was a boat, it was functional and it cost nothing to hire.
“It’s different, but so are we,” Dee smiled. “Thanks for letting us go with you.”
All the hastily made arrangements seemed to have fallen into place, which was taken by all as a good omen. After a couple of days preparation it was time to set off and Dee gingerly took the starting handle, making herself ready to turn the motor over. It took three attempts, and she had a good feeling when it did start. As Amanda was most used to the new boat, she teamed up with Dee for the first few miles, leaving Jim with Em on the Mayfly. Whilst she would have liked to start the journey on the boat that was to be her home for a while, she was more than happy to assist Jim. He had made a strong impression on her as an eight year old, and though it was five years since that time, she still had the same feeling about him. Here was someone that would have been the best of elder brothers. Then he played to her impish curiosity, and made her laugh with his daft jokes and mannerisms. Now he spoke to her more as an equal, still witty but less likely to pull punches when there was something important to be said.

boat moored

“Did you just go like this?” she asked, with some of the eight year old curiosity in her voice.
“It was darker, and we kind of slipped away in the night. Not far, just to that island up there,” he pointed.
“We were fugitives.”
“Were you scared?” Em replied.
“Completely,” Jim said, remembering the day. “I’d set out for a holiday, and there I was running away for goodness knows how long with someone I’d only met a couple of days before, probably laying myself open to all sorts of criminal charges into the bargain..”
“I wasn’t scared when we set off down here,” Em smiled.
“Liar,” Jim was quick with his answer.
“That’s unkind!” Em laughed.
“It’s true though isn’t it,” Jim added. “I bet it walloped you when you shut the front door.”
“Not then. It was when we got off the coach and went walking to find you and Amanda. I just thought.
What the hell have I done!”
“So I was right. You were scared,” Jim smiled.
“Jim! You tricked me,” Em laughed.
“I could see you were putting a brave face on it.” Jim replied There’s not many secrets when you’re on the water. You’ll find the news of this trip will already be about twenty or so miles ahead of us.”
“So why are we doing this trip?” Em’s question demanded a proper answer.
“We know where your dad is, and he asked us to look after you, which we’d have done regardless. Your Mum is returning soon enough, but she’ll be a while yet,” Jim paused. “That doesn’t mean that you should both be sat on cotton wool and mothballs. We were heading north to a canal festival anyway, and you two need to enjoy your summer.”
“To a normal person, that’d sound really daft,” Em smiled. “But I don’t think any of us are normal are we. That’d be boring!”

moored boat

Adapted from “Emily’s Journey” by Michael Nye.
This version
©2023 Michael Nye.