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Although the friends intended to spend their first night on Magna Charta Island, they are too tired to travel all the way there, and decide to stop earlier. Because they did not bring a tent, they have to pitch the canvas cover over the boat before they can sleep. This task proves more difficult than it seems, and it takes them several attempts to successfully set it up.
The men fought with the ropes, the canvas, and the hoops. They lost control of the canvas, got hit in the head, and fought with it for hours..... their simple task took most of the day.
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)