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Is thise genuine?
on 14 March 2014
I am a canal boater of some 40 years experience, 25 of those running a hotel boat. (See my book, Hotel Boat.) I found this book quite interesting when it dealt with the Fenland waterways I never visited, but on more familiar canals, a series of queer gaffes made me wonder if the author was making it up as she went along. I'll give you a few examples. One does not need any wind to turn a boat in a winding hole; "wind" here means not a breeze but "turn." Any woman who would allow a child to go along the gunwale in a tunnel should be prosecuted. She asserts that narrrowboats are 7'6" wide, passing through 8' locks on the Oxford Canal, but all narrowboats these days are built 6'10"; narrow locks are an inch or two over 7', if we are lucky. The author frequently asserts that her vessel, formerly a hotel boat, is, at 70' long, hue and clumsy, and terrifying to the much smaller hire boats on the Oxford. Well, when I began cruising in my 70' Unicorn in 1974, new-built boats of that size were quite rare (although there were plenty of big ex-trading boats about) and hire boats were indeed quite small, but by the time in which Narrow Margins is set, Unicorn's length was common; the average hire boat was over 60'. The author takes her washing by car from Cropredy to a launderette in Daventry, far back along the route they had come, rather that to Banbury, a short run on from Cropredy. Of course, when her huge boat leaves Cropredy, it heads to Daventry, on its way to Banbury! I find it difficult to believe anyone who had actually cruised the Oxford Canal could so casually transfer a town from Northampton to Oxfordshire.