Llangollen's Grand Prix

by Ian H Bruce (2019)

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Chorus :
From Whixall, Chirk, Whitchurch and Wrenbury
They're all taking part in Llangollen's grand prix


A late start to our cruising, so plans modified
And we turned off the Shroppie in early July
We had hoped to relax in the warm summer sun
But the school hols were starting; hire season begun

We moored up at lunch-time, to rest for the day
All was tranquil and calm, then the boat starts to sway
In every direction, then against the bank smashed
By the wake of a hire boat, that quickly flashed past

The Llangollen Canal attracts boaters galore
But many have never been boating before
Newbie skippers and crews cast off and in charge
Of a 20 tonne missile, which they call a barge

They had raced to the hire base on fast motorways
Attracted by TV shows singing the praise
Of barges on aqueducts, a pub crawl afloat
But did nobody tell them, slow down past moored boats

Perhaps going too fast's not what they intend
But life in the slow lane they can't comprehend
Though instructions were given, they forget or ignore
With white knuckles on tiller, down the cut they do roar

Thirty, forty or seventy are speeds they can judge
When travelling on tarmac; but ploughing through sludge
At 3 or 4 miles per hour is well off their scale
More suited to a tortoise or fast racing snail

With one week's boat hire there's no time to be slacking
Three days to get somewhere, three more to get back in
It's constant full throttle, there's no time to stop
Unless they get a car tyre wrapped round their prop

So here's a suggestion for novice boat crews
Make sure that one member brings stout walking shoes
Then ensure boat and skipper behind them do lag
As they walk the towpath - with a red flag

Having written a song about a 'Grumpy Old Boater' I was determined that the first of the three labels should not apply to me and when we set off up the Llangollen Canal I was determined to exhibit bonhomie to all whom I met. This lasted for a few days until the first of the racing hire boats passed and smashed our boat into the bank. Though I refrained from shouting 'slow down' on many occasions on this trip, my patience was sorely tested. This ode to inconsiderate boaters perhaps does a disservice to many hire boaters who are lovely people and who have plentiful waterways skills. Private boaters, who should know better, are often just as guilty of going too fast.