We paddle into Reidenburg after four days without a single decent stop. It's the first town that's on the water, it's been raining for all four days, and we're keen for our coffees. We duly pull up to two mooring bollards each the size of our boat and tie our ropes around them ready to hit the town. The bollards are big enough for mooring a hefty tanker but the area is clear of large boats and there are no signs to say the space is private. We muse at the proportions of our tiny canoe against the enormous mooring space. Then we depart.
Having wandered into the town, we settle down at a bakery that sells hot drinks. I eat cake, Nathan eats a pastry, we have a coffee each and glance over the maps for a while. Pondering the night's camping Nathan departs for the tourist information office as I watch our bags.
Shortly, I hear the sound of a distant fog horn. After this I think I hear the rumbling of a boats propellers as if coming into moor. The rumbling grows louder. Then, from behind me, a car bobbles past on the cobbled street and I realize I've fallen pray to a little paranoia. The wheels of the car were rumbling noisily on the road surface, there were no boats to be heard. I take a sip of my warm coffee and get out my mobile phone.
Messing around with an i-phone app I once again hear what sounds like the distant sound of a fog horn. I worry slightly, stand up and, feeling our belongings are safe enough, I wander down the road a little to where I can view the canoe. My view of the canoe is severely obscured by a throng of people, one hundred or so in number. The people are mainly middle aged, talking amongst themselves and, quite clearly, waiting to board a cruise ship. As I look in shock at the sudden throng of tourists I hear a third fog horn, this time ringing loudly in my ears and echoing around the valley. I run towards the canoe.
Meanwhile Nathan enters a tourist information office and asks a young assistant whether there is camping a few kilometers downstream. Together they flick through a pamphlet and look online to see whether the campsite has wifi. Nathan, finding the answers he needs very quickly, makes awkward conversation. He chats with an old cyclist who passed us during the day. She remarks on her surprise that we can both paddle and talk at the same time. We must be very fit, she says. Nathan smiles, continues talking and picks up another pamphlet or two simply to make the most of his wifi-enquiring, stop in the information office.
As I hurtle down to the quayside parting the masses of people. I push my way to the front and, realizing I still have my phone in my hand, grab the old man next to me. I thrust my phone into his hand and say "hold that" as I vault the fence in front of him. In that short moment I took in the look of total confusion on his face and as I reach the two bollards I'm already grinning. Untying the first of the two ropes I look up furtively to see not one, but two large cruise ships, meters away, drifting towards Dora. I dash to the next bollard, fumble with the knot, untie the orange rope and stand up. I sprint along the concrete bank, tugging the canoe along with me, and run a good hundred meters before I re-tie Dora to a piece of fencing. Now I turn and look back as the first of the two cruisers puts down it gangway for people to board. I'm still grinning from ear to ear like a cheeky boy who has secretly raided the fridge.
Nathan departs the tourist information office with a leaflet he doesn't need and makes his way back to the bakery. On the table sit my wallet and phone case, next to it the bags and paddles. He sits down, finishes his drink and hums to himself as he waits for me to return from the toilet.
By now I'm back in the sea of old people who are boarding the cruise ship. I find the white bearded man in a red raincoat and he hands me my phone, chuckling to himself. I demonstrate the unity between England and Germany with a clever blend of the two languages, "Danke you", and scuttle off away from the quay. As I run up the steps that lead back to the road a man appears on the balcony around the boat's cabin. He yells at me in German and shakes his fist in the air like a cartoon figure. I cannot help but laugh and shout "ya" a few times as I leave for the bakery.
By the time I reach Nathan, reading the bottom of a beer mat, I'm half laughing out loud. "We need to get out of here, mate!" I call out as I jog in and begin to pick up our things. Between laughing and talking I quickly get across to him what happened and he goes inside to pay while I head back to the canoe with bag and paddles.
Before long the canoe is packed and together we watch the second cruise liner being boarded by old folk. I laugh at the look on the mans face as I thrust my phone into his hand and Nathan laughs at the obscure small talk he made while I dashed around the quayside trying to avoid a catastrophe. Dora, of course, survives to fight another day and we note down another top anecdote: Dora's near death experience.