Monday, July 17, 2017

Getting hotter....

It was but a short taste of the Ashby, but Michelle loved it, so it was worth it. The next morning, we winded just after Basin Bridge and headed back whence we'd come. Michelle's knee was a bit better now, but our thoughts of visiting Coventry were dashed when Grace stepped into a space which had previously not been occupied by the end of the tiller and now was. She'd almost certainly cracked her rib, and was in a lot of pain.

It soon became clear that this was going to slow our return to Yelvertoft. There would be things that Grace normally did from the stern that she couldn't do now, so I was going to have to do those as well as my normal routines at the bow - handling stern and centre lines, stern mooring, closing lock gates, that sort of stuff. And she'd need to lie down and rest from time to time, too. Then Michelle twisted her getting-better knee, and that ruled her out of doing too much as well. Coventry was struck off the itinerary.

We carried on to Hawkesbury, filled up with water, and went looking for a mooring. There wasn't the smallest space available this time, so we moved on another mile to Caters Bridge 11, moored, and lazed and watched Wimbledon for the rest of the afternoon.

At this point, my photos become scarce. I guess my attention was on the injured crew now.

The next day, after a bad night's sleep, Grace's ribs were worse, and so was Michelle's knee. We would have to shorten each day's trip now, to allow time for them to rest. Fortunately, Michelle had the whole of the following week off work, so there was no hurry for her to get back.

Continuing through Ansty (why can't boats moor there??) and Stretton Stop, we moored again at Easenhall Bridge 34. Lunch, rest, Wimbledon. Sun, peace and quiet.

Down in the engine compartment, I noticed that the bilge water below the stern gland was deeper than it ought to have been. I'd been pumping it out daily, and that was fine, but I really needed to tighten the gland nuts a little to slow the drip. Also, there was a small amount of coolant in the bilges. I was aware of it, and watching to see if it increased. And we were both keeping an eye on the temperature gauge, too, but I couldn't find where the water had come from, so there was nothing else I could do but monitor the situation.

This decision was to backfire on me later.

We were alarmed by a boat that was reversing in to moor behind us. Not that the reversing was a problem, but rather that there was a very loud bang from the boat, and its engine stopped abruptly. I hopped out to help them back up to the bank. They didn't know what had caused the noise, but thought it might have been a log caught in the propeller. That could be very difficult to remove!

But they must have done it fairly quickly, because they left the mooring the next day, quite some time before us. Newbold Tunnel next, a lovely, sunny day, and a beautiful canal. We were pleased to see Nikki and Ralph on NB Miner Bill coming in the opposite direction, fellow tweeps whose boat we've seen more than once before, but whom we've never met. The meeting was brief, of course, but it's always good to see the faces of Twitter or Facebook friends.

At Newbold Quarry Park, we stopped. We'd been meaning to visit for years. There's no real mooring for boaters who want to visit this park, but we managed, with the help of passing boats that lifted us aground in their haste. Michelle and I wandered through the park for a while, very pleasant but nothing special. We were glad we spent the time there, though.

After lunch, we drove on to Rugby. Michelle sat and read under the shade of a tree while Grace and I did a quick shop at Tesco. Just 20 minutes after we left that spot, an alarm sounded from our gauges panel. The engine was overheating. Both of us had failed to check the temperature since Newbold. Grace steered Kantara into the reeds on the bank, and turned off the engine. Mooring was a challenge. The bank was badly, unevenly eroded, so there was no straight edge. Additionally, there were reeds and weeds galore that hid the water's edge very effectively. There was nothing for it - I had to jump! With the centre line in my hand, I launched myself as far as I could towards the towing path.

I landed on solid ground. Mooring pins had to be driven in amongst stinging nettles and other offensive plants, but a fairly secure mooring was made. There was no getting off for Michelle or Grace, however, so down came the gangplank from the roof - the first time it'd ever been used. Now I had to check the engine. It was hot! But there was really nothing I could see to suggest the reason for the overheating. The pool of coolant in the bilges was not significantly bigger. The water level in the header tank was fine. The domestic hot water wasn't hot, the skin tank was cold, and the filler cap had blown off the header-tank. I could only think that the water pump had gone. Time to call in RCR.

Steve the RCR man arrived within 40 minutes. He discovered fairly quickly that the fan-belt was loose, so the pump wasn't being turned. I was almost right, then. I pointed out to him that the belts had been checked by the RCR man who'd done the annual service back in November. Steve tutted.
He then discovered that the caps for the radiator and the header tank had been swapped, so the pressure cap was on the header tank and the simple cap was on the radiator. This explained to Steve, though not to me, why the header tank was still full. I shrugged. The RCR man had removed the caps back in November, I told him. Steve tutted. What was the name of the idiot who made these mistakes? I went in and got him the paperwork for that job. Steve looked at the signature.

"Oh!" he said, rather alarmed "That was me!"

Embarrassment ensued.

To his credit, having discovered the fan-belt tension issue, Steve then investigated the coolant leakage, and found that the rubber hose feeding the calorifier with hot water from the engine was split. I'd not found that when I was checking for the leak. He cut off the end of the hose with the split in it, refitted the good(ish) bit, refilled the system, tested it all for some time, and urged me to get the in and out hoses to the calorifier replaced. With that, he made his merry way back to his van half a mile up the towing path.

We moved on a short distance to a decent mooring, grateful for the work done.

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