A minor obsession
Why I would like to rename our boat.
Most tribes have their obsessions and will discuss them endlessly, and probably boringly, given the slightest opportunity. The tribe I am most familiar with is that of the cyclists and they will bang on and on about punctures, hills, waterproof (or not) clothing and motorists. Or more particularly, motorists that hate cyclists. It’s no different with boaters. There are multiple topics that attract a plethora of opinions but without doubt there are two that stand out head and shoulders above the rest. Toilets and tick-over. Toilets will have to wait for another blog but right now I have tick-over on my mind.
For the less mechanically minded, or interested, tick-over is the speed at which the engine runs at its lowest setting with the forward gear engaged. I suppose you could have a reverse tick-over setting but we’ll keep things simple. I really hope for your sakes that this gets more interesting. Anyway, let me explain why tick-over is important.
Suppose you are travelling down the canal at a sprightly three, or even a reckless four, miles per hour and you come across a couple of boats moored by the tow path. Convention says that you should reduce your speed to tick-over whilst passing the boats. The reason for this is to minimize the tendency to rock the moored boats and pull them back and forth on their ropes. The effect of a boat passing by too quickly can be so violent that it has, in extreme circumstances, resulted in spilt wine or beer. A serious problem as I am sure most people would agree. The advice is to slow your boat down three boat lengths before any stationary vessel and not to speed up again until you are clear of it. It’s a simple enough convention to adhere to so what’s the problem you may ask? Well the problem is a combination of human nature and boat propulsion mechanics.
The mechanical problem is related to different engines with different tick-over revolution settings and varying propeller sizes which combine to result in differing speeds at tick-over. Our boat has a slower than average tick-over for example so if we stick to the rules we are real goody two shoes and nobody shouts at us. The second element is the fact that some people are inconsiderate idiots and some are just not very bright or aware of how the world works. The consequences of all this is that boaters in motion are adamant that they are travelling at a reasonable speed that won’t cause any disturbance whilst the people on the stationary boats are convinced that they are about to sink, or at the very least lose a precious glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
This conflict usually prompts a variety of ‘questions’ or ‘suggestions’, mostly shouted from the moored boats, along the lines of: “What’s the hurry”, “You’ve lost your water skier!” “Where’s the fire?” and, most common of all, “That’s not tick-over!”. There are various responses from the guilty party, the most common being to look the other way and feign deafness. Another is to insist they are travelling at tick-over but somehow manage to reduce their revs at the same time. Which is odd. Or often they simply ask the other boater to kindly keep their opinion to themselves but not exactly in those words.
All of which is the reason that if I ever changed the name of our boat I would like to call it; “That’s Not Tick-over”. This would enable me to criticise every passing boat whilst staying safely inside guarding my precious glass of wine or beer.