Ocean Breeze is name (perhaps a bit grand) given to a day’s training cruise on the Narrowboat Belfast. The boat is at Hemmel Hempstead and not, as some have suggested, Northern Ireland! The activity is run by 1066 Hitchen squadron, but they kindly allow cadets form other units attend
The day starts at 0830 at the yard of the Dacoram Narrow Boat project near Hemmel Hempstead (travel details below). The cadets get a briefing from the staff, are fitted with life jackets and introduced to the good ship Belfast. Details of the boat are on the Dacoram site.
Details of how to get to The Dacoram Project can be found Here
For a one day trip we travel a few miles along the canal, turn the boat around and come back which sounds very easy and relaxing until you realise that the stretch of canal that we use has quite a large number of locks, most of them a short walking distance apart. After an initial introduction to how to get a narrowboat through a lock (the boat weighs about 16 tons) the “ship’s company” divides into two parts, a lock crew that mostly walks between locks and operates them and another group that stays on the boat and learns what happens on board. These groups, of course, swap duties at some point in the day. Usually there is time to introduce everyone to steering the boat which is not an easy task. The groups are not fixed and people seem to move between them during the day, so there is a lot of opportunity to make new friends and talk. Cadets always seem to good at talking.
By the afternoon everyone is getting the hang of their duties and there is a lot less instruction and shouting.
The return is at about 1730 and cadets can go home about 1800. We say “about”, as time has a slightly different meaning on the canal as you will find out.
There is, of course, a cost to all this and the normal charge is £15 per cadet
Details of how to find The Dacoram Project can be found Here