Aware that we still had rusty patches on the hull that need needed scraping, sanding, de-rusting and painting, we returned to Kantara on Monday to find the marina under attack from a very strong, gusty wind. Squatting down to read the electricity meter on the pontoon, I was very nearly deposited over the edge. That was enough to tell me that the jobs were not going to get done. The rust patches I'd got as far as treating the last time we were there were okay, but still needing coats of paint. But it was most certainly not the the best weather for that.
Never mind. We'd committed to spending at least three nights there, so we resigned ourselves to frustration and made the most of it.
One job that was outstanding (in the sense of "still to be dealt with", not of "excellent"!) was the Bubble stove. Whatever we'd tried, we'd not been able to get the oil to flow into the pot where it's burned. When we had a go this time, we failed again - unsurprisingly really, since nothing had changed since the last time we'd attempted it. In desperation, but with a flash of genius, Grace turned on the fan-heater and pointed it at the side of the stove, roughly where the fuel nozzle sits. After an hour of that, at least the boat interior was a lot warmer.
We tried again. I turned the valve on, pointed a torch into the pot, and waited. Nothing...
A pool of diesel oil started to spread slowly out of the nozzle. All I had to do now was put a piece of paraffin wax firelighter in the pool, light it, return the catalyzers and the flame ring, and voilà!
Our extreme satisfaction was battered, however, when steam (or maybe smoke) started to pour out of the back of the stove. We opened the doors into the well-deck, then the openings in the cratch-cover, then some windows to cause a draught, then stood back to watch disconsolately.
We knew what was causing it. We'd had the stove disconnected from the central heating system a while back ("a while back" - have you noticed how the pandemic trashed our sense of time?) and the back boiler tank had been left in place. No doubt water was still lying in the bottom of the tank, and it was boiling dry - just how we wanted it to be. The smell was horrible, though, (anti-freeze in the water), and we kept our distance. Half an hour or so later it stopped, and we could close the doors and windows, and sit back on the sofa to enjoy the heat at last.
The "before" photo
The marina was very quiet. Very few boats were out on the cut, and those that weren't were deserted. We had the place to ourselves, it seemed. We did all the things that one is supposed to do to keep the boat going through a period of little or no use - checking oil levels, water levels, bilges, voltages, things to be tightened, things that need greasing, things that need to be cleaned. Who said boating's easy?
Feeling cheated by the weather, but nonetheless glad to have been there for a while, we returned to our house on Wednesday. We had some Nina-sitting to do the next day!