Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Decision is made

Saturday 29th April to Sunday 30th April 2017

We made an early start this morning but not moving the boat – it was a trip to the Co-op. Saturday and someone could not do without her paper and a couple of other bits and pieces – so very “happy” to say that she also had to buy another few gallons of milk – just in case there is some kind of cow shortage.

But on return to the boat we did make a getaway – our thoughts being that we may need extra time to get anywhere….

….boy we were not wrong.

That bloody dead elephant was on the back again and tick-over was top speed – beside the canal being shallow it also has a limited width in which the boat can move at all.

There were two locks to get through – these were the fast points of the passage today.

At one point we had a boat approaching and each of us eased a bit to the right – right was right – we both scrapped the bottom on our starboard sides – it was that close – we managed to get through a little easier than the other boat, but it was an inching along process.

Passing would be not a lot of fun; couple that with the 1.5-2 mph speed; the reeds that had been cut and dumped in the water liked to wrap around the prop shaft; all of this was going to a lot of “fun”.
Bridge 72 - notice the bust of the man's head on the parapet -
It is named Old Man Bridge

A closer look at the bust
A sign that we would like to see more often

We got through Drakeholes tunnel and there were some lovely mooring spots – but we thought another 3 miles to Clayworth and we could moor there.
That meant about another 1½ to 2 hours – well it would have been that, except that just by Bridge 71 the engine decided to die.

Diane is now an experienced marine engineer – she has done her time on the Thames and has qualified in advanced engine-onics – instantly she knew it was a fuel problem – the words being “It sounds the same as on the Thames when the fuel pump stopped”.
I don’t need any computerised diagnostics with all of that nonsense.

The trouble wasn’t that we were in the middle of the canal and no power, normally we would have been able to pole our way to the side and hold up there – on this canal you cannot get anywhere near the side except at the nominated mooring places – we were stuck 3 metres out from the bank.

Down the engine hole; located the problem – the water separator was clogged up – must have been some crap in the last fill, but I am not going to be absolutely sure about it – so change the filter and reassemble it all; start the engine – success – no, it went for a while and stopped.
Checked the second filter – it wouldn’t bleed through here, so loosened the last injector – start the fuel pump – wait for the tone to change – stop the pump and tighten the injector – restart the engine – all is well, it starts and keeps going.

Wish I could say the same about our rate of progress – but it was still slow, hard and frustrating going.

We made it to Clayworth; all the moorings seemed to be for the boat club; the few that were assigned for visitors were right on the winding hole and except for right in the middle of the hole, they were all occupied by cruisers.

Nothing else to do but carry on for a bit – another mile and a half and we found a stretch of armco and we could get in – so we moored up.

As it turned out it was a lovely spot with a field of ewes and lambs on the off side and on the towpath side was a sweeping view over flat farm land.

It was 13:30 when we moored up and we had been on the go since 7:45 with a 45 minute stop for the engine problem, therefore 5 hours to go 9 miles and 2 locks.

We were more knackered than if we had done 3 times that distance or traveled for twice that time – the day ceased to be enjoyable a long time before we moored up.

With the Reflecs not lit it was time to change the basket - here is the old and the
new baskets together....

...trouble is that the old one is in two parts

Sunday was a bright day but very windy and seemed a very suitable day to spend it stationary – the landscape had not diminished – and we found some work to do on the boat.

The paint locker was opened and out came sander, paint and brushes – and about three hours later we had sanded, primed and painted the starboard gun-whale; filled a few indentations on the front deck and felt a great deal better with the improved look of the boat.

We also had a chance to seriously think about what we wanted to do on this canal.

From where we were there was still another 21 miles and 40 locks until the end of the canal – and that many back to where were, plus the 10 miles and 4 locks that we had already done – a total of 52 miles and 84 locks – at the same speed that we had suffered through.
Decision time and we decided to cut our losses and just head back – we are not “go-to-the-end-of each-canal people” and we have other things to see along the way.
Sure everyone is saying how beautiful the end of the canal is, but we have a “pain-thresh-hold” which was pretty close and we didn’t want to cross it.

So tomorrow we would move the ½ mile to the winding hole and head back.

9 Miles, 2 Locks, 1 Tunnel
YTD:  304 miles (489 km), 160 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 3 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4936 Miles (7944 km), 3311 Locks, 138 Tunnels, 69 Lift Bridges, 175 Swing Bridges

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