Litania has now done two seasons and has welcomed a variety of groups. We have had groups of young people from special schools, some coming for 5 weekly sessions of a structured course, with each student taking it in turns to be Captain, Crew Purser or Engineer with different tasks. (Purser was the most popular, as they control the biscuit barrel)! Other groups of young people came for shorter times and, while some enjoyed taking the helm and working the locks and bridges, others preferred to do art, prepare the lunch or walk the tow path enjoying the sounds and natural world.
The western end of the Kennet and Avon Canal is stunningly beautiful, with much to do on and off the boat - including access to a wild swimming spot in the Avon, voted No 1 wild swimming by the Times. Some of the older visitors, who are no longer able to drive, have taken the helm, navigating 10 tons of steel narrow boat down the winding canal.
Litania is affiliated to the Royal Yacht Association’s Sailability charity, which gives boating opportunities to people with disabilities. We have now also become an RYA Training Centre, which means that we can give official training for Inland Waterways Crew and Helmsman Certificates. We aim to train people from boating charities, carers and, where-ever possible, get those with special needs up to the standard for these certificates. We also would like to develop Inland Waterways Sailability awards, so that people can get appropriate and incremental certificates and badges as they can for sailing and other boating activities.
Since Rob and Trish bought Litania, she has been used in so many ways. One of them is to take supplies to the boaters. Litania is easy to turn around and we can moor alongside other boats without damaging them. She has been ideal to help boaters in this way. We started when we handed out Christmas hampers to boaters, not necessarily those in need, but as a special gift to show God's love. Then the word got around and it progressed to dropping off food parcels to those in need.
We have been working with the Gypsy, Traveller and Boater outreach team in Bath and will get an email saying a certain boater has no food. This has been a wonderful collaboration with them and also a good witness as to what God is doing. We will often put a New Testament in the parcel, or the ones donated from the Churches will already have one in. We were able to drop off much needed bags of logs recently before the canal froze and the snow came.
We would not have been able to have helped so many boaters without Litania. She is now recognized on the canal wherever we go and God has blessed this ministry and will continue to do so as long as there is a need.
Litania has hosted what we believe is the first ever "Alpha Afloat" course. A good number of boaters attended this, and we finished with the Holy Spirit day. We hired a hall in a Church near the canal, one boater who attended said “God was on his case”! Not all the boaters could attend this, but the night before we had a meal. One of the boaters gave thanks to God for all that had happened over the past few weeks. Some of the boats have moved away now, but we pray that the seed sown will continue to grow and bear fruit in their hearts and lives and they come to know Jesus.