Dudley meets Cassie

Dudley met Cassie properly for the first time today. (photos in Dudley's gallery 4) I say 'properly' because the first time they met, Cassie was up on blocks and out of the water so that doesn't really count. Dudley, quite understandably, doesn't do ladders, so he couldn't get on board then.

Today, the weather was fine, but not too warm and we thought we'd take the plunge (so to speak!). Dudley's first challenge was stepping onto the floating pontoon alongside which Cassie is moored. He was a little perplexed as to why it wobbled, but curiosity (as usual) soon got the better of him and he wanted to nose around. Initially he was reluctant to get on board, but once we were both in the cockpit he thought he might get left behind so he scrambled on. He looked very pleased with himself once he'd done it. After showing him around - not a terribly long job on a 22ft Freeman - we decided to set off on his maiden voyage.

Dudley has a strong prey drive, which seems to be particularly directed towards ducks at the moment so, for safety's sake, we put him in a lifejacket and kept him on a lead, just in case... Luckily, the sheer number of ducks, swans, grebe, coots and geese seemed to overwhelm him somewhat and he calmed down. In fact, he was really well behaved and seemed incredibly relaxed for his first boat trip. The thing that got him most wound up was all the other dogs running around, off lead, near to where we moored.

We decided against going through any locks on his first trip as it would involve him being shut in the cabin while we went through, and if the lock is against you it can take around 20 mins to get through. So we pootled upstream to the outskirts of St Ives and moored up at Nobles Field where we dined on bacon and egg baguettes and a cuppa.

Si took Dudley for a walk round the meadow and along the nearby footpath and after that he seemed much more settled. We stayed for an hour or so, then headed back to the marina, packed up and set off for home. Almost as soon as he got in the car, Dudley sprawled out in the back and slept. He barely moved the whole journey home!

Now that we are over the first hurdle we are looking forward to many more trips with him.

First real trip of the 2009 season

Took a trip out with Sam and Lorna today. (photos in gallery 8) We headed downstream to the GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association) moorings just before the Pike and Eel Marina. It was our first real trip of the season and Cassie behaved impeccably, starting second turn of the key, and not missing a beat all day.

The weather was warm, if a little overcast, warm enough to enjoy a leisurely bank-side lunch. All that was missing was the dog - four people and a greyhound is a bit too much for a Fiat Panda!

There was less traffic on the river than expected, which made locking through St Ives Staunch painless, and also meant we had no problem finding a nice mooring spot.

Saw our first kingfisher of the season, no more than six feet away from the boat. Unfortunately the camera wasn't to hand, so we missed that one.

Refitted Cassie's mast, topped-off with her new light, which looks great. (photos in restoration gallery 7)