Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thursday to Saturday - end of week 4!

It's just five lock miles from Alrewas to Fradley Junction, where the Trent & Mersey Canal meets the Coventry Canal, and we arrived there in around an hour, used the facilities there, and moored up across from the BW Information Centre, shop and cafe.

It was then that Grace noticed that the batteries weren't being charged. I checked, and found the drive belt to the alternator, generator and engine water pump to be all but broken. The engine was too hot for me to attempt a replacement, so we went across to the café for lunch.

Back at the boat later, I rolled up my sleeves and got down to replacing the belt. We have spare belts of all sizes, so it all seemed very straightforward. However, when I couldn't even loosen the bolts on the alternator – yes, I did have the right size of spanner! - I had to admit defeat. I called River Canal Rescue. After about half an hour, I got a text from an RCR mechanic to say he'd be with us between an hour and an hour and a half. He arrived two hours later, having come from Manchester in very heavy rain and consequent bad traffic. At least it had stopped raining on us by the time he arrived.

It turned out the job wasn't nearly as easy as I have envisaged, for it took the expert three hours to replace the belt, and also the separate generator belt which was showing signs of wear.

Drive belts!
He also spotted another small problem which might have worsened without us knowing – a leak in the pipe taking water to the calorifier. Unfortunately, he was unable to replace it, but fixed it temporarily, and we'll have to replace it when we get back to the marina. But we were hugely impressed by the young man, Dean, who worked solidly for three hours to get a very fiddly job done, with a smile, great patience and real determination. RCR is most certainly a service worth paying for.

Our evening meal was at 9:30, and we went to bed early.

The weather for Friday was due to be heavy rain, so we decided to stay where we were. Dean had left a number of greasy fingerprints around where he was working, and I had water in the bilges that needed to be pumped out, so I got those jobs done while Grace did some vacuum cleaning inside the boat. We took a stroll around the site, too, which has a lot of character.

Saturday's weather was much better, and it was time for us to move on up Junction Lock, then turning left onto the Coventry Canal.

Our rooftop garden's doing well at last!

The scenery was lovely, the weather perfect for cruising, and we saw more boats out and about today than on any other day since we started out four weeks ago. There were no more locks on today's journey. The canal is narrow in places, and somewhat winding.

We moored for lunch above Cheadle's Bridge (no. 81), and at the end of the day below Dunstall Bridge, just north of Tamworth.

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