Monday 14 November 2016

That’s nearly it for this year …..

Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th November

On Wednesday morning, after a wet night, it wasn’t quite as cold as Tuesday.   Yesterday Dave spoke by phone to a Mikuni engineer, so as the rain had stopped he went down the engine hole to try what the engineer suggested; still no good.  So he carefully extracted the heater, not an easy job, to take home for some careful consideration and also to use the web for info – we have no signal now we have a boat moored each side of us.  We got on with various jobs for the rest of the morning.

After lunch, I took Meg over the top lock behind the Calcutt reception office and we walked along the towpath to Napton Junction before turning left towards Lower Shuckborough.  Meg leapt lightly over this poor section of towpath though I was less athletic!  The “path” to the right of the picture slopes alarmingly towards the water.

poor towpath near napton junction

The sun came out and I began to feel overheated – that is, until I turned round at Nimrod Bridge and started to walk back into a keen wind.  At least there was some late sun.  Impossible to get a picture without my shadow in it though.

low sun near napton jct 2

Meanwhile Dave had called in to see if the chandlery had any adhesive.  The plywood panel under the sliding hatch has rotted, and he had prepared a new one at home, but the glue he had turned out to be not up to the job.  They didn’t have any, so he came to meet us instead.  The sun was so lovely we felt really sad we hadn’t taken the boat out.  These crab apples were just catching the last of the sun as it went down.

golden crab apples

By the time we got back to the boat the sun had gone and it was very cold again, so in we went to light the fire and eat cake.

On Thursday we went home.  In the morning Dave put a coat of bilge paint on the engine compartment and polished the brasses, adding a coat of wax to help protect them over winter.  The water tank is nearly empty but we haven’t completely drained the system yet.  I emptied the galley cupboards and we brought all the bedding home, so when Dave goes up during the winter he will be roughing it a bit!

Saturday 12th November; Dave called our friend Chris, who had a narrowboat for many years, and used to do all his own maintenance.  Together they poked around with investigated the Mikuni.  The bit that needed to be unscrewed was facing the side of the boat and just a couple of inches away, so it couldn’t possibly have been investigated with the thing in situ.

soot from mikuniThe little pile of soot you can see was not apparently enough to have prevented the heater working – that would be the broken mantle, which goes in that hole – or maybe is still in that hole.  I am not very techie when it comes motors and engines.  Can you tell?

the failed bit - mantle

Anyway, the part will be ordered!  As will the broken gasket below.

the broken gasket too

In default of a cruise, and working locks rather than just walking across them, I made do with the latest canal poem from Luke Kennard which at least reminded me of being in a lock; this is how it starts.

In the roar of 80,000 gallons to a lock
The engine thrums through my bones
from ankle to temple.

I thought that was rather good.  He wrote it on a trip between Skipton and Greenberfield on the Leeds and Liverpool.  If you want to read the rest of it, you will find it here if you scroll down about five screens’ worth.

My last boat job for this year is to calculate our totals of miles, locks etc for 2016.  Maybe next year I will keep a running total as some other bloggers do – it must be a lot less work as long as you remember to do it.

Saturday 12 November 2016

Fair-weather cruisers?

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 and heater 1

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.

replacing makuni bandage

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.

hire boat braunston locks

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.