Ta everso for the advice; yes I will get some training. I must say, the level of interest in my progress is heartening, it's good to know people out there really do care. I hope I have'nt alarmed too many people out there, I don't want to turn up on D-day to find the river empty of other traffic and a lynching party waiting!! All your comments have been taken on board(!) especially the spare fender point (I never thought of that) and will be acted on.
"Most people have some means of filling up the gap between perception & reality, and, after all, in those circumstances there are worse things than (put preferred vice here)".