Rules for living on a boat:
- use a cork ball float as a keyring
- always put keys in zip-up pocket
- don’t have animated conversations when stepping on board
The evening that you’re entertaining guests is probably not the best time to ignore the above rules and loose the keys overboard. But that is what has happened.
So, I’m talking to my friend in an animated way as I step on board, keys in hand, and see them fly into the canal and plop as if in slow motion, slowly sinking to the bottom.
We look at the water in horror.
“Where’s your boat hook?” she says.
“Um, I don’t know if I have a boat hook…” I reply. (Another rule for living on a boat: find out what a boat hook is and find out if you have one.)
“Oh, yes, here it is!”
I take the boat hook from the roof. It is 7ft long. Briony dips it down into the canal.
“Er, I haven’t touched the bottom yet…”
Damn! It’s dark, we can’t really see what we’re doing, and the water is too deep to go paddling. There’s not much chance of us picking up the bunch with the hook. We are locked out.
“My aunt has a spare set. Let’s go,” I say. It’s a 35 minute walk up the towpath to her house.
As we walk, I wish that a) I had followed the above rules, b) I had hidden the spare in one of the lockers and c) I was still in the last place I’d moored where the water was approx two feet deep, and where my aunt’s house was only a five minute walk. Bri says she doesn’t mind. We keep walking. Thank goodness my aunt is home.
An hour and a half later we are back at the boat, able to get in and have dinner. I’ve written off the keys – I can get replacements cut, and I have spare keys for my bike. It could have been a lot worse.
The next morning, I ask a passing boater if he happens to have a magnet – one of those sea searcher things that yachties use to find missing winch handles. He does! I rig it up to my boat hook and start the search. I dredge for a long time, not quite sure exactly where the keys fell. I try to re-construct the incident (in thoughts, not action) to pinpoint the spot. At least there is no tide here, so the keys will not have moved far. The biggest problem is that they were flung, they didn’t fall straight down, so they could be anywhere within a couple of metres.
Twenty minutes later I am convinced I will never find them, but keep trying. I have brought up lots of weed from the bottom, but nothing made of metal. Then, something snags, and up come… my keys!
I remove the keys that I never use (they are just dead weight) and put the remaining ones on my cork ball. Lesson learned!