Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Hire boat converted for steering from a wheelchair

Is it too much to hope that the busiest locks in the country might be the best maintained? The two Hillmorton Top Locks have at least three paddles out of use between them.

Lock 7, up which we came, has only one paddle in use at each end; the parallel Lock 6 has only one bottom paddle working. Perhaps it is a water control measure(!)

When we got to Braunston we decided to go up a couple of locks. In the bottom lock we waited for another boat to join us. This boat, the James something or the something James, had been bought only yesterday. The crew were complete novices, so I did my best to teach them about locking. After we tied up above Lock 2 I lockwheeled the rest of the flight for them and continued their education - I hope!

At the top there was a hire boat waiting to come down, so I stayed to help. It was very quickly apparent that I could be very useful, as the crew consisted of a man in a wheelchair, steering, and his wife working the locks. I stayed with them all the way down the flight, setting the locks in advance.

The photo shows Mark, Caroline and Bella, their dog, on nb Beatrice.

Caroline said that Willow Wren had told them theirs was the only "normal" hire boat converted for wheelchair steering in the area - so that's not counting trip boats etc. From the steering position the wheelchair user has a steering wheel; there is a ramp for access to and from the bank. There is also a tiller, so it looks as if steering can be conventional too.

They were loving their holiday - top marks to Willow Wren.


Unknown said...

The Lyneal Trust on the Llangollen also have adapted narrowboats. They have a ramp for access from the bank, an hydraulic lift to gain access to the interior, wheel steering, adapted shower room, lowered windows in the salon so it’s easy to see out from seated. Absolutely brilliant. We hired one earlier this year which meant my lovely mum could come on the boat with us, at 100 years young she needed the easy access! She died recently, but thoroughly enjoyed her holiday on the canal.

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi there,

We passed each other in the Braunston flight yesterday. I do hope the man who was struggling with the windlass was OK - he didn't look very well.

Were you the man in a hat on the bike who whizzed past with the energy of a very fit person?

Cheers, Marilyn

Halfie said...

Unknown, thank you for this. I'm glad you and your mum were able to enjoy some boating together.

Marilyn, yes, I was the energetic cyclist in a hat! I should have twigged from the name of your boat... I'm sorry I didn't stop to say hello. Next time.