BY Nicky Denegri

DATE: 18 OCT 2013


Here are a few more (but worry not, there won’t be a third instalment; there’s only so much that five days aboard what is essentially a floating home can teach you) thoughts about the lessons that I’ve taken from my recent canal boat experience and am trying to apply to everyday life:

Someone in your team will end up in (hot) water, sooner or later... so it’s important to stay calm.

Day one

Quick discussion with S about who’s most likely to fall overboard first.  I wager H, 11.  S disagrees; I’m sure that secretly he thinks I’ll be first to go but doesn’t want to pin his colours to the mast, so to speak….

Day two

Approximately three minutes after setting off, we hear an enormous SPLASH and who should float by us wearing a look of some surprise?  H of course.  He’d been practising walking from bow to stern and back along the gunnels, the little ridge along each side of the boat. There was an inevitability about the whole thing I have to say, but this was not the moment to reflect on that.   So.  Action stations!  We threw him a lifebelt (all these years of Hoopla practice at the local fair finally coming into their own); quickly communicated with the boat behind us, who fished him out in true drowned rat style and H, it has to be said, handled the whole thing with aplomb – he stayed calm, did exactly as he was told and it only took us the remainder of the day to coax him outdoors again, but he gave the gunnels a wide berth from that point, sensibly.  

It wasn’t the nicest thing to see and deal with, but after the initial few seconds of shock, we swung into action, stayed calm and all was well.  Which leads me onto...

Even for those of us who don’t concern ourselves too much with the rules will find that they’re pretty helpful occasionally

I said to a friend recently that I always listen to the safety announcement on planes because a) it’s polite and b) because this is life or death people!  You can never be too well acquainted with the safety procedures on a plane, and so it proved with the canal boat.

It was drummed into us that in the (ho ho, unlikely) event of someone going overboard, the one thing you absolutely had to do was cut the propeller immediately.  Which we remembered to do, thereby averting real disaster.

Now, we live in a culture where we are surrounded by rules and regulations, not all of which we necessarily agree with; this can make us blasé about other rules which are genuinely helpful.

That the simple things in life make us most happy

Having the people you love most in the world around you?  Seeing a family of swans surround the boat in the hope of a treat?  Helping out people in trouble – and being helped?  All simple in their own way but immensely valuable, reminding us of our connection to people, nature and experiences.

Happiness expert Shawn Achor has carried out experiments with workforces where he asks them to write down three things – at the beginning or end of each day – that make them happy.  It takes only 21 days for this to have a marked effect on people’s levels of optimism and happiness.  It’s a habit I’ve been practising for some time now and you know what?  It works.  Fancy giving it a try?


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about the author

Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.

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