Wednesday was beautiful. The light had an amazing warm yet bright feel to it, and the sky was a fabulous shade of blue. It was cold again, though, and exposed stretches of canal were quite windy. But the countryside of the Oxford Canal is charming, and cruising was a delight. Thinking that it's about time – after years of canal holidays, plus the past year of boat ownership – that I learned how to drive the boat, I took the helm for a while. I was not going to let Michelle and Mike out-do me! However, the canal became very winding, and narrow and shallow in a number of places, so I handed control back to Grace.
We moved on down to Napton Junction (Wigram's Turn Marina), and stopped at Napton Bottom Lock for services before ascending the first seven of the locks, these all in the space of a little over a mile. Again, we seemed to be the only boat going up, with numerous craft descending, and we found all of the locks empty and ready for Grace to glide Kantara straight in.
We stopped for a late lunch after lock 14, but then decided to stay for the night.
We have had a minor problem with our propeller shaft gland dripping too much water into its bilge. This can usually be dealt with by using the bilge pump, but we found that afternoon that the bilge pump was not working. Looking into the pool of water in the bilges, it was apparent that it had a lot of grease in it – grease is pumped manually into the stern gland to slow the dripping of water – and the bilge pump, too, was quite covered in a film of it.
Removing the pump and dismantling it, we washed it in hot, detergent water, and baled the water out of the bilge manually. The pump was then put back together and tested, and successfully pumped the bucket of hot water empty. I tightened the two nuts on the stern gland and, as I write, there has been no further dripping. The problem I have with these two nuts is that it is easy to over-tighten them to the point where damage is done, and I have no way of knowing how tight is right. So we proceed with care. If the propeller shaft becomes too hot to touch, then I will know that I've tightened the nuts too much. I hope it won't come to that.