Monday, August 22, 2016

An unexpected delay

I rang RCR at 8:00 this morning, and reported our plight. At 9:00, I got a call back, saying that an engineer had been given the job, and we'd hear from him when he'd finished his current one.

I'm now pretty certain that the problem's a blown head gasket. That would explain the smoky exhaust and the oil in the water, which I discovered this morning. I can't imagine that it's a job which can be done on the cut, and I think the nearest boatyard is miles away, in Market Drayton, so I'll be interested to learn what RCR intend to do about it. We're thinking now that it's likely we'll not get to Pelsall in time for the festival, though we do have a few “spare days" on our itinerary. We shall see.

Audlem Locks have been very busy since 7:30. There's been an almost constant flow of boats in both direction. I put a notice up at Lock 4 above us, telling boats on their way down that we're moored, and not waiting to go up (so don't leave the bottom gates open for us, thanks).

The water that rushes out of the culvert at the bottom of the lock is a problem to everyone, regardless of their experience, though it has to be said that it's the hire-boaters who have the biggest problems. The strong currents hit the boats broadside as they head into the chamber, and this almost invariably results in them being knocked off course, and crashing into the entrance wall.

I used the waiting time to wash Kantara. The roof in particular was filthy, not helped by the fact that we'd moored in the shade of trees which dropped a sticky sap over the boat overnight. We moved her this morning, just a few yards to a place where we were less in the way of other boats. While I washed the boat, Grace was making a couple of meals' worth of soup. It smelled delicious.

The RCR guy arrived before 1:00. I was talking to a passing boater when he arrived. The boater was commiserating over the head gasket, and saying how he'd had to call in RCR a week or so ago, to fix an oil leak, and that the young man who'd done it had been most impressive. Lo and behold, it was the very same man who arrived at that moment.

“I get around”, he said.

He lowered himself into the engine compartment, and looked around. I was wrong about the head gasket (thank goodness!). It's not water in the oil, it's diesel(!) An oil seal in the lift pump has failed, allowing fuel into the lubrication system. It's far more easily fixed, and cheaper, but there's still a chance of damage having been done to the engine before it cut out. We can only hope and pray about that one.

Having taken photos of the pump needed to fix our sick Kantara, Sam the engineer towed her up the next two locks to a Visitor Mooring where we'd be right out of the way of other craft. He took the lead, very carefully manoeuvring the boat into the locks, steadying her as they filled, and out again. Grace towed at the stern, I managed the locks and took a centre line when needed. It was clear that he'd done this job before, at the same locks. He was very impressive.

I asked him, "Will the diesel and the oil continue to seep into the engine?"

"No," he answered. "Not without the engine running."

That's a relief. I had visions of waking up in the morning and finding the bilges full of a nasty mix of oil and diesel.

It seems that we'll have to wait a day or three for the problem to be fixed. Meanwhile, Sam will order a new lift pump, and he'll call when it arrives.

As I type, a man's just cycled past, calling out in a silly, high-pitched voice to Percy and Isaac, his two dogs.

"Come on, Percy! Isaac, hurry up!." This several times. Then, "Who's that over there, Percy? Isaac, who's that?" They didn't answer. Perhaps they didn't know.

"It's Mummy! Go to Mummy!"

Since the dogs were different breeds, I looked out to see what their mother was like.

"Come on, my little darlings!!" It was a woman. I was disappointed.
Fellow-Tweep Fuel Boat Halsall passes us
Thursday was spent basking in the glorious sunshine. RCR called to say the pump had arrived, and it would be fitted tomorrow. They'd call to let us know when.


  1. Ha, I've just caught up with your posts again. I'm very envious of this whole cruise you're doing this year. I love the Shroppie. I remember it from walks as a child and teenager when my aunt lived in Nantwich. It's a beautiful part of the country, but my, do you ever meet a lot of boats?? I think it would take us some time to get used to the crowding at the bridges and locks...haha, we meet so little leisure traffic. Most of our encounters are with commercials. I'm so sorry you've had more technical problems though. That's not fun! Still you could be in worse places...I enjoyed the story about the dogs here :)

    1. I can imagine that the Shroppie would delight you, Val. It has so much variety, and so much beauty. Traffic's not a problem. The waiting at locks is all part of being boaters, and a big part of the social life, too! The techie problems are sorted now, and we're hurrying to get to the IWA festival.