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Youngest Solo Helmsman


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I first took to the waterways at 15 and would sit up the back of a semi-trad with my dad as he worked the tiller. Every so often I would take over while he sat down. Eventually I would work the tiller by myself up the back. Now I am an experienced boater I can work every system on the boat solo (inverter and water etc). What is the youngest solo helmsman you have ever seen?

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A child on a working boat would take the tiller as soon as they were tall enough to see over the hatch.

 

I don't know how old the son is on the camping boat William but he did a grand job steering at Braunston on the parade.

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A child on a working boat would take the tiller as soon as they were tall enough to see over the hatch.

 

I don't know how old the son is on the camping boat William but he did a grand job steering at Braunston on the parade.

 

There is a set of photos of a working boat on the Anderton Lift. The girl steering is six

 

Richard

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Had me own cabin cruiser at 13

 

I was 14 when I got my first proper boat.

 

Here is my daughter 'steering' aged 4 1/2, supervised by her 6 1/2 year old sister.

 

Ouse06.JPG

 

Our insurers have advised that the boat needs to be under the control; of someone at least 18, so if steered by someone younger there must be an adult on board - walking along the towpath alongside is not sufficient - I specifically asked that question.

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I was steering narrowboats on family holidays regularly when I was around 9 and above, if fact, my Dad had a struggle getting me to relinquish the tiller.biggrin.png

 

So when I bought Old Friends , it was only right that my Daughter Olivia carried on the tradition...

 

 

4391233602_18a9d2f65d_b.jpg

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I remember going up the Marsworth flight 20++ years ago with a converted Josher, which was being steered by the owner's son, who (the son) was probably about 6 at the time.

 

As the son is a member of this forum, I will leave him to identify himself - or to remain anonymous!

 

Chris G

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I first took to the waterways at 15 and would sit up the back of a semi-trad with my dad as he worked the tiller. Every so often I would take over while he sat down. Eventually I would work the tiller by myself up the back. Now I am an experienced boater I can work every system on the boat solo (inverter and water etc). What is the youngest solo helmsman you have ever seen?

 

Is this an attempt to get your farther to let you take the boat out on your own? Just askin loike.

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This is Jackie Lowe steering Columbia, in the early 1950's, no idea of his age then though.

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Humphris a retired Barlow's helm was in charge of a Motor and Butty at the age of 14. Although he has told me he was steering stood on a box when he was too small to see over the cabin roof.

Edited by Ray T
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Sometime in the late 60s we took a family holiday on a converted 70' working boat called "Canada Goose", hired from a place in Leighton Buzzard. Early on we passed a working pair in a bridge 'ole and my father was very proud of the fact that he touched neither the 'ole nor the boats. He loved to report that his pride was tempered by the fact that one of the steerers of the pair was so small that he was standing on a box to be able to see over the hatch. Canada Goose BTW had an enamel bath and a sea-cock type toilet that pumped straight into the cut. Happy memories.

 

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This is Jackie Lowe steering Columbia, in the early 1950's, no idea of his age then though.

 

attachicon.gifF364.JPG

 

attachicon.gifJackie Lowe.JPG

 

Mike Humphris a retired Barlow's helm was in charge of a Motor and Butty at the age of 14. Although he has told me he was steering stood on a box when he was too small to see over the cabin roof.

 

And this is our version of the box:

Ouse04.JPG

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Nowt wrong with standing on a box. Even though I am the wrong side of 65 so I hardly qualify for the youngest helm, being vertically challenged at 5' 4" I stand on a box when steering.

 

 

 

The lid hinges up and the box doubles up as storage for chains, tools etc.

 

 

Edited by Ray T
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I should add that that milk crate was an illustration, not a recommendation. It only just fitted on the step and did have a tendency to slide off, sometimes taking a small girl with it, tumbling into the back cabin!

Ouch. Sounds like that could be painful. The problem with a fixed step is that it makes getting in to the cabin hard. I normally have to lower myself down and sit on the step before heading in to the cabin. The engine is immediately below the steps so it's a bit cramped.

 

JP

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I was 7 school trip on Usk, steerer was Len Wilson old pal and workmate of my grandad. Standing on the counter as we went along the Wyrley and Essington and told Len who I was, he handed me the tiller said you can do this then and went into the cabin for a cup of tea. First time steering a boat on my own. Luckily the front of the cabin bent down so I could just make it out.... the W&E isnt called the Curly Wyrley for nothing lol.

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Now I am an experienced boater I can work every system on the boat solo (inverter and water etc).

How much experience does it require to switch on an inverter or a water tap? Or do you mean do electrical work on an inverter and some plumbing?

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How much experience does it require to switch on an inverter or a water tap? Or do you mean do electrical work on an inverter and some plumbing?

I think what he meant was he's up to speed with every system on the boat and is ready to go out on it on his own. He is only 17 so that's not too bad an achievement. We've all got to start somewhere!

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There's a big difference between helmsman and solo helmsman (i.e. there's no one else on the boat with you). The usual term is single-hander. Lots of youngsters on this thread, which is great, but how many go single-handing? That seems to be the gist of the OP.

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I think what he meant was he's up to speed with every system on the boat and is ready to go out on it on his own. He is only 17 so that's not too bad an achievement. We've all got to start somewhere!

 

Ok, it just doesn't seem that much of an achievement to me. At 17 I was riding a motorbike and pulling the engine apart to fix it; travelled to the middle-east and India by myself at 18. I'm not saying that was a great achievement either - I just think it was fairly common for young men of that age to do adventurous things back in the 70s and 80s. These days it's unusual when you come across any teenager who's not stuck to a screen playing computer games.

Edited by Claude
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