The Eberspacher has been playing up again – nothing new there but it did mean each morning came with a choice between a cold shower or travelling a while until the engine warmed the tank. This morning was beyond chilly for August so we set off and ducked in for showers along the way. Chimneys were smoking, boaters out chopping kindling and everyone hidden beneath layers of clothes, most passing conversations involved the temperature with some unthinkable suggestions of an early winter. No way.
Fazeley has been transformed since our last trip through with the old wharf now converted into housing. A bit of a back log tailed from Glascote Locks, where we muddled through with an interesting bunch, finally emerging from the top of surprisingly only two locks feeling quite bamboozled, wondering if we’d slipped into a parallel world for a short while. The remainder of the day was mainly a splattering of residential, a little countryside and a colourful flash of historic working boats waiting for theAlvecote rally to get underway.
Finally tied up it was a relief to find the fire going well and a lovely warm boat, which got Nick thinking time had arrived for the Eberspacher’s most drastic cut and shut to date…plenty of drilling and rebuilding later the unit was back in place and making its usual unsettling fire up sound – hey presto, a full cycle later the radiators were piping hot. Diagnostics reported a faulty overheat sensor, it seems there’s no end to the Eberspacher’s capability of going wrong. Meanwhile I waxed the boat in readiness for winter?
We thanked our lucky stars having arrived at lock 68 to find Canal and River Trust about to flood, then drain the pound in an attempt to get a curiously stranded boater on his way. After chatting to the poor guy there wasn’t much we could do – other than demonstrate how easily our boat passed through the lock, whilst his remained inexplicably jammed every time he tried. So we were off…
Something kind of snapped somewhere, resulting in a floppy throttle. The rain hammered down and very aware of the pound draining plans about to get underway, we did it old style. Tugging and heaving, 20 tonnes isn’t so heavy once momentum takes hold. Not as speedy as under engine power but we got it in the next lock, dropped it down before staring at the gush of water rushing down the overflow. Agreeing hard and fast was the way to go, we heaved as the boat veered away from us, taken by the water. A bit more yanking and it was back, bankside, and tied up. It turns out that googling what is wrong with your boat is just as traumatising as googling what is wrong with yourself. Gearbox, drive plates, clutch – the symptoms made every nastiness plausible.
One good thing about breaking down in a boat rather than a car is that your effectively straight back at home, so other than dropping behind a self-imposed schedule we carried on as normal. If you had to choose a place to break down this wouldn’t be a bad one. With the road running alongside and a lock number providing a home address there’s almost no better place. Worth every penny, the Canal and River Rescue engineer arrived and seemed pretty confident we’d be sorted fairly quickly. The gearbox cable was the problem, snapped and good for nothing, it’s not a nice boat trauma as it can happen without warning and at any time…tidal Trent, Ribble Link, Thames, windy Liverpool Link… don’t have nightmares, sleep tight.
Every cloud, we now know how to engage the gears with a broom stick and a shoe lace in an emergency AND the short cruising day meant more time on the Eberspacher which is up and running again.
Slightly off topic but we found a whole new world today. We weren’t even looking for it but scrolling for an entirely different app, Geocaching popped up – it seems we’re a little late to the party as the concept was born in May 2000. Anyhow, one download led to an earth shattering realisation…there’s treasure hidden pretty much all around, millions of people are into it and it leaves you wondering what other undiscovered worlds seemingly normal people are caught up in. Oh and to top it all the National Trust is in on the deal too. After the initial shock of discovering our first ‘cache’ anything was possible, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise to find there’s a whole language that accompanies the past time too…muggle, TNLN, geocoin, DNF signature item, BYOP, the list is long.
So all this time the people we thought were gongoozlers have been watching us muggles – just wishing we’d chug on by a bit quicker and free them up to find a cache. Definitely on the nerdy side of life but for once it’s an addictive activity that’s doesn’t leave you fat, broke, hungover or in prison.
Back on planet earth, just before the big wire cutting moment, Nick managed to fix the Eberspacher. Mucky thermostat sensor bungs this time – so maybe it doesn’t mind our early morning hot water regime? We’ll blow it up before too long, that’s for sure.
The thunder and lightning happened but didn’t last so long. Murk was pleased to discover he is back in one of his favourite places, his river dip was a bit like riding the rapids, he seemed to love it all the more. Up at Dunham Massey the deer roamed happily alongside National Trust members.
A lemon cake, Derby afternoon with a bit of Eberspacher investigation thrown in too. Unfortunately it turns out the Eberspacher didn’t like the idea of turning the radiators down and whacking it on for hot water in the mornings as much as we did. Still not exactly sure what’s wrong with it but Nick has some re-wiring plans.
BBQ this evening and the sun came out. New neighbours all round.
We’d got used to the speed of river travel and back on canals it’s shocking to see our slow crawl across the Nicholson pages. It shouldn’t really matter when the destination is nowhere in particular, but somehow it still does. ‘Progress’ wasn’t helped by low pounds and dreary weather today. The creep from Blackpole Lock to Offerton Bottom Lock was a painful slow go, with way too many boats (us included) heading up from Blackpole, the levels had dropped low enough for Canal and River Trust to put in an appearance.
Finally up through Offerton Top Lock the heavy skies closed in and we moored just before it hammered down. Leaving the rest of the day to poor soaked hire-boaters with little option but to push on with their Worcester/Droitwich/River Severn loops.
A fuel filter check as the engine sounded a bit dodgy through the shallow pounds – the filter was clear so we’re hoping the gurgling was due to alarming angles created by mounting bottom of canal debris along the way.
After a bit of boat work it was a late leave from last night’s mooring, six miles down river passes in a flash. It seems impossible to pass a lock on the Lower Avon without a reminder of the scary flood levels reached in July 2007.
A black sky hung over Fladbury lock and soon bucketed down on us. Huddled under the umbrealla we zoomed downstream arriving at Wyre Piddle Island. It was supposed to be a short stop wile the rain cleared but moored, fire lit and all dried out it seemed a pretty lovely place to spend a night. So here we are.