Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th November; Calcutt marina
Oh dear, that turns out to be us …..
We drove up to the marina in bright sunshine but the temperature was definitely wintry when we arrived. With only an hour of daylight left for cruising it made sense to stay in the marina and get the shore line plugged in to get the batteries charged up. The boat was bitterly cold and it took three attempts to get the Mikuni heater going. There was an interesting article a while ago in one of the magazines suggesting that degraded diesel in the fuel line would be the culprit; whatever the cause, we were soon warm and once the water was hot we turned the heater off and lit the fire for a comfy evening in (just a minor hitch when the gas ran out just before the tea was cooked, so that Dave had a fun time in the icy dark changing the bottles).
However, on Tuesday morning the boat was freezing (literally in the case of the condensation on the window frames), with thick frost outside. And the wretched Mikuni just would not get going. This was surprising, as after a few false starts it ran perfectly last night. The light on the switch, which has different combinations of flashes according to the problem, just flashed regularly, which isn’t in the manual. Then Dave discovered he had left half his thermals at home, and with the sun behind a thick layer of cloud, and a slight but keen wind, the thought of standing on the back of the boat for a few hours was just too much, so for the time being we are staying put. Until we light the fire, we can at least plug a halogen heater in as we are still on the shore line.
Meg is lying in front of it on her Noodle Mat. We bought the mat in the spring to help dry her feet when she comes in wet and muddy but as it feels warm to the touch she loves to lie on it as well. It’s not cheap; the makers were selling it at £25.99 but we got it online from a garden centre in Scotland for £14.99. It works pretty well – we just have to get her to stay on it while we get her towel! Effective for shoes too.
Dave went up to change the gas bottle, by car as we are a long way from the office and wharf, and in the process discovered that Mikuni no longer makes the model we have got, and spares are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Anyway, he thought he would at least put the new exhaust bandage on and check out the bits he could actually reach. As you can see, it is not exactly well placed for easy maintenance.
After some warming soup for lunch we drove to Braunston, where we parked behind the church and walked down the footpath to the North Oxford at bridge 89, surprised to see two boats on the move. We walked towards the locks and passed Ferndale (Ray and Diane) moored opposite the Boathouse, but it didn’t look as though anyone was home. Sadly the Gongoozlers’ Rest was closed by the time we passed but we could pick up Towpath Talk from the stand on their boat, which was good as there were none in the office at Calcutt. The Boat Shop was open so I called in for some milk and got Tillergraph as well. Lovely and warm in there. We went to the top of the locks and back, meeting a hire boat who we helped with a couple of the locks, but they only had one windlass so there wasn’t a lot we could do. It was much gloomier than the picture shows and the poor hirers were freezing.
We crossed the canal at the marina and walked up Nibbitts Lane for some sausages at the butchers, and then back to the car. It was dark when we got back to the boat, and we just lit the fire and hunkered down for the evening, except when Dave (lucky man ha ha) had to don full wet weathers to take Meg out before bedtime!
We ran the engine for some hot water, but didn’t cruise.