Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Where are we?

I'm sorry to have worried people with my low ebb comment.

Obscured by CloudsStupidly read a newspaper, and the realisation that we are governed by complete and utter imbeciles (one after the other, incessantly) dawned on me again. I normally try to have nothing at all to do with them. And my life is happy as a result. But by reading the newspaper, I foolishly invited this cavalcade of idiots into my home. Several friends phoned or sent emails, worried about my state of health. But I am fine, really. Just a dark cloud passing over the Sun. Something I've faced 1000 times before. There's no need to worry. And I am both embarrassed and touched by your concern. Thankyou.

Boatwise and blogwise... well, there is not so much to write now the short winter evenings have drawn in. We're tied up for the winter at Bourne End Marina. But also free to move, should we so wish. The river is still not in flow, and it's still
possible for us to travel. Very different to last year, when the current was whizzing the ducks past us at 20 knots, and the wind was bitterly cold in our faces.

We're cosy and warm, with 10 bags of coal stashed, and plenty of well seasoned logs to burn. The inverter is off the wall, and on it's way to the manufacturers for investigation and/or repair. We're optimistically hoping to have it back before xmas. I must confess that I feel a bit of a cheat being on shorepower, and safely tucked up in a marina over the winter. Idealistically, I'd like to tough it out in the ice, just for the laughs, and the experience. But Sheena wouldn't enjoy that, and I have her wellbeing to think about also.

Speaking of which, I'm down in Devon at the moment, helping Sheena, while she looks after her mum. But will be definitely be spending xmas on the boat. It's been a year since I was last in a house. And to be honest, I don't miss it at all.

Rubbish in overgrown canal ~ ManchesterNext year, we are genuinely hoping to get onto the canals. I am putting aside my concern that they might be all 'dog poop and carrier bags round the prop', because Alan (Mv 'Latitude') reminded me that there is also plenty of fun to be had, like swingbridges, tunnels and aquaducts. Thanks for that, Alan. Though we've loved living on it, the thames has been here for 1000's of years. And it will still be here, when it's time for us to come back to it. With 2012 also being the Olympic year, we figure it will be stupidly busy, and not very enjoyable.

Our rough, back of an envelope plan is to go up to Eynsham and Pinkhill, beyond Osney bridge again, and then come back down onto the Oxford canal via Duke's cut (and our friend Tom's boat). But not for a couple of months yet, obviously.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Three Gaskets

A fine sunny day, for this time of year. A golden opportunity to put on my overalls, and fanny about with the engine. So I dusted off my spanners (both ring and socket), grabbed the leaking pump by the nuts, and seriously went for it.

Thankfully, it didn't "all pop out, like the insides of a clock", as Steve had warned it might. It all came out in one lump. There were three (yes, three) gaskets inside, where the workshop manual said there would be none. They looked OK. And I figured they must be in there for a reason, so I just cleaned them up, and put them back on.

Scraped some oily gunk from around the joint, and gave it a gentle rub with some fine grade emery cloth, to ensure a snug fit. Made sure to cross tighten the nuts, as Chas taught me, when putting it back on. And I was ultra careful not to lean on the spanners so much that I stripped the threads.

Happy to report that after an hour of running the engine, there is no leakage. The boat still moves in forward, and reverse, too. Which is good.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Bourne End

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, but I have been at a low ebb, and not felt like writing much.

Back at Bourne End
We're at Bourne End Marina again, for the winter. And now we don't have to cruise everyday, I can turn my attention to the little niggly jobs that there wasn't time for previously. There is no more water under the floorboards, and with the aid of a portable fan blower, the woodchip mulch liner is drying out nicely. The floorboards are returning to their normal non-bowed shape, and all is fine internally. Except that our Mastervolt invertor is malfunctioning again, and we don't have shorepower. Steve's kindly lent us a cable reel, so we have some 240v onboard, but it still means running the engine every day to top up the batteries.

Again, nobody knows why the unit is misbehaving. The solution is to take it off the wall, and send it back to the factory. Not very satisfactory, but at least they will be able to get to the bottom of the problem. When they all get back from their continental boat show jolly on thursday.

Leaky Mushroom
Fixed the leaky mushroom vent over the kitchen. Discovered obvious signs of rust, neglect and bodging, which I repaired, filled and made good.

Leaky Fuel Pump
Fixed the leaky nozzles on the fuel pump. Great. They were bodged with flat O-rings and plumber's PTFE tape. But now the increase of pressure in the system has caused the fuel pump itself to leak. Will have to oik the whole thing out, and make sure there's no gunk underneath it, causing a partial seal. Not a big job, but a messy and fiddly one, because there isn't enough access for spanners, without removing the fuel delivery system first.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dorney to Cliveden

Our last night out in the wilds, for a while, so we're tied up on 'Goose Poo Island' again, and making the most of it.

Autumnal ColoursThe journey up from Windsor went well, though the stretch from Dorney lake to Bray lock was quite hard going. As soon as we got through Bray lock, the river resembled a pond once again, and our progress up to Maidenhead (and beyond) was quite rapid.

Smiling statueNew statue at the Dimbleby's old house (by Boulters lock). Looks very lifelike, indeed. You expect him to move at any moment. But he just sits there smiling. Like the buddha.

Rainbow over ClivedenWhen we got to Boulter's lock, the power was off, so Sheena had to hand wind one of the gates. Then the lock keeper appeared and turned the power on again. We got to Cliveden, just as the sun was setting. The orange, russet, reds, and browns of the autumn trees looked spectacular. And to top it all off, there was a rainbow arcing across the river.

The Round TowerOi! No Photography!Sheena enjoyed her trip around Windsor castle, but was dissapointed to report that there was a complete photography ban, and that very few places inside were open to the 'Public'. What there was, was well worth a visit, but Hampton court delivered more on the historical and fun fronts.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


We're at Windsor, which is very quiet at this time of year. Hardly any visitors. And all of the tripboats which normally make this reach so hazardous, are tucked up in their winter moorings. The only downside, is the roar of jet aeroplanes every minute or so. Wouldn't want to live here full time, it's a real nuisance. Sheena has gone for a wander around the castle, for tea with her majesty in the state rooms. While I was doing the washing up, this happened...

M/V 'Flat Over Crest'Tried to turn themselves around, and got completely stuck on the mud. To make matters worse, they tried full ahead, to shift themselves clear of it, but ended up getting stuck even further. Full astern is also doing nothing, except causing a huge wash of water out the back. They're well and truly stuck, and will probably have to be towed off of there. Poor sods. Not a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon in Windsor.

Bit of a dilemma. Do I take the boat over, and try to offer assistance? Doubt our engine could tow them off, but maybe I could help to land crew. But, if I ran myself aground on the mud too, Sheena would not be very impressed to come back and find no boat to get on. It's also too far across the river to shout anything meaningful at them. Scrathing my head, wondering what to do, while their Skipper (a big bloke) heaves on the pole, trying to shift them.

Off they go..Happy Ending: After 4 hours of heaving on a pole, and manoeuvering this way, and that, they finally shifted themselves. Managed to swing their bow into midstream, and then caned the throttle to budge themselves. Took off down the river at a rapid rate of knots.