Ralph Barber reports…
AT TIMES it felt like learning a new language. In short, this organisation is a charity that runs boat projects for the benefit of the community somewhere in the country.
This is the definition of the NCBA, or should I say the National Community Boats Association. It’s been going since 1985, when it went under the name of the Community Boat Association.
Then in 2005 it became the NCBA as well as registering as a charity to advance the education of the general public in safety procedures by: establishing and preserving standards of good practice in boating; establishing a scheme of accreditation for persons in charge of community boats and developing a curriculum of safety instruction.
This is how a number of us met with senior trainers from the NCBA on a cold day in April for three days of training to become NCBA trainers. We had two skippers from up north and a couple of local people who crew the community boat the Pamela May 2 based in Droitwich.
After avoiding the mud in the yard caused by the dredging taking place along the Droitwich canals – plus a couple of bikes and, of course, some shopping trolleys that had been recovered from the water and were awaiting collection – we started with how to log in to the website, doing course updates and then started our teaching practice.
Theory lessons on several subjects to get into the role of a trainer were delivered. With a mixture of backgrounds, the interaction was good as we picked up further strange language terms, for example CCBM – that is Certificate in Community Boat Management. Prior to that is the CCC (Community Crew Course) that can be followed by the Boat Handling course, or the Single Helm Course and the Lockside Assistant Course.
On the water
The following two days we were out on the water in Pamela May 2. It was an experience for the visitors as the vessel is electrically driven, so a new experience that was used as a lesson for pre-inspection as no oil or fan belt to worry about.
Also, one of the visitors had not been on a narrowboat as they run community boat trips on a 12ft widebeam which of course gives a foot each side to get the boat into a lock, not the case on a narrowboat going into a narrow lock.
We did practical lessons, turns, mooring and then working up through the five locks to the Droitwich marina. The visitors did not like the M5 tunnel, it was a tight fit and even tighter coming back that required a bit of local lock management to ensure safe passage back to the boat’s home mooring.
Further lessons on reversing and then an evacuation that caused some interesting discussion afterwards. One reminder from this was, don’t forget to call the emergency services to help put the fire out.
We all completed the training, to later receive in the post our certificates and our ID badges stating we are NCBA trainers for the next five years as we have to then prove it all over again.
The Pamela May 2 is run by the Droitwich Waterways (Pamela May) Trust. It was launched in April 2019 and is fully equipped for disabled passengers. Bookings are welcomed from care, residential and nursing homes, day centres and special interest groups.
As it’s a community boat social groups, families and youth groups are also welcomed. Arrangements can also be made for special occasions such as weddings and anniversaries. The boat is crewed and maintained by RYA qualified volunteers who over the year will be converting to the CCBM qualification thanks to a training grant received from Awards for All.