Llangollen's Grand Prix by Ian H Bruce (2019) 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 loose 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. So when we set off up the Llangollen Canal in 2019 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 managed to refrain 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.
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