The problem with training courses and text books is that they mostly focus on everything that can go wrong, and leave you with a sense of dread and anxiety. Our only practical experience of narrow boating so far is a one day Helmsman course that we took almost 3 years ago. The day started off with our instructor showing us pictures of disastrous boating accidents and a chat over a cup of tea of what can go wrong.
At that time, the prospect of owning our own boat seemed very far away, so with the instructor by our side, giving us step by step instruction knowing that she would take over if anything went wrong we ended up having a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Reading many blogs over the years and speaking with other boaters, I know that everything will soon become second nature, more enjoyable and less stressful. I'm sure it's a similar experience to having a baby, mostly the fear of the unknown and what can go wrong. Once you've changed one nappy, in no time at all you are able do it with your eyes half closed in the middle of the night.
Paul has arranged a 2 day refresher course for us, the week we take possession of Melissa. We will be on both the canal and the river covering locks, staircases and tunnels so hopefully this should give us some practical experience and alleviate some anxiety. We will then take Melissa on her first trip from Hanbury over to Crick Marina which will take us about 5 days. Within a mile of setting off we will hit Tardebigge locks, nothing like being thrown into the deep end to become accomplished in a new skill.
In the meantime, I'll keep reading the books and keep in mind that boating will be a fun and relaxing adventure that will bring us many years of happiness.