Sunday, 11 March 2018

Finding out why the bilge pump didn't work - stupid me

On Friday I disconnected the outlet hose from the bilge pump and lifted it out of position so I could get at the impeller. It seemed free enough but still only managed a pathetically slow speed when operated. Hmm. Broken, I thought. We were only 15 minutes by car from Streethay Wharf, so I drove there to buy a replacement pump. £83.90. Ouch! Back at the boat I swapped it over, switched it on and - yes - the same result.

It was only now that I had the bright idea of checking the voltage at the pump. Aargh! Only 6V! No wonder it didn't work! What an idiot! I followed the cables up to the control panel and checked the voltage on the lead from the starter battery whence the bilge pump gets its power. Yup, 6V. Not good for a 12V battery.

I disconnected the new pump, reconnected the old one and powered it from the domestic battery bank. This should be better as the solar panels should keep them charged. I jump started the engine from the domestic bank. It started first time, pleasingly, and we moved the short distance to Fazeley Mill Marina where we used the new Elsan point (viciously strong rinsing jet) and topped up the water.

By the time we'd gone to Fazeley Junction, winded and returned to the mooring it was almost dark. We had to be in Milton Keynes that evening, so we hurriedly packed the car, drained the water as much as we'd done previously and drove away.

Well, now I have a spare bilge pump. I read recently that the cabin bilge should also have a pump - has anyone done this?

Thursday, 8 March 2018

On board: good news and bad news

We drove over to the boat this afternoon to find ... no apparent faults with the domestic water system. Hooray! It seems to have survived the winter so far.

But ... I found some water in the cabin bilge and a very damp bung. The bung is a disc of the floor cut out to form the inspection hatch. Worse, I tried operating the engine 'ole bilge pump to find that it made a pathetic small noise - and then nothing. As the canal doesn't seem to be emptying into the bilge at the moment I shall investigate properly tomorrow. If it can't be resuscitated I still have the old pump. I replaced it only last year as it was getting noisy. Hmm - it should still be under warranty (but will I be able to find the receipt?)

No photos, sorry. I'm doing this on my telephone.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The end of navigation - and the end of the road for Moley?

Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn't it? But that's what the sign says. (Not the bit about Moley.)

OK, it actually reads "End of Environment Agency Navigation", so it's not forecasting the end of the world as we boat it. We were in Brandon, Suffolk, today (not by boat), walking along the River Little Ouse on another recce for a regional BCF gathering on Saturday week.

Attached to the mooring pontoon was a notice written in the local lingo.

It's in Polish and - according to Google Translate - means "Please take your rubbish home, thank you".

On our walk we came across a man in a hi-vis jacket with a long-handled four-pronged device. He had been creeping gently forward amongst fresh molehills on a playing field before coming to a complete standstill.

He noticed me taking this photo but ignored me and didn't move. I had never before seen a mole catcher in action - if "action" is the right word. After a while nothing happened and we moved on, completing a very pleasant walk.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Calorifier concerns

What a difference three days makes! We've been basking in double-digit (just) temperatures today and the snow is going fast. It was only yesterday that our local Tesco Express received its first delivery of milk for a while - the shelves had been bare for four days.

Two days ago many houses had spectacular icicles. I had hoped to provide an example or two, but the computer is on a go-slow and isn't playing ball. Unless it's a Blogger problem whereby it won't upload images. Here they are.

Jan said something the other day which made us both think about Jubilee - effectively abandoned by us since the last time we were there in January - and its calorifier. The mild winters of the last few years have lulled me into a false sense of security and I realise that I didn't properly winterise the boat. I suppose I thought that we'd just drive over and do the necessary if the weather got cold ... but it all took us rather by surprise.

One good thing is that our friends David and Mary have checked the boat today and all seemed to be well, so I hope we don't find a ghastly split in the calorifier when we go ourselves later this week.

Updated with photos

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Snowhere man

Er ... hello! I'm back. It's been a while, but I'm hoping to renew my blogging energy and get going again. There was a lot happening in our lives and I let this slide. I suppose I was enjoying the extra freedom I found by not feeling obliged to update the blog, and once I got out of the habit ...

Anyway. I'm sure you're up to your neck in snow pictures, but here are two I took from our house. First, this from the back:

and then a white-out down the driveway.
Both photos were taken on Wed 28th Feb 2018. I measured 9" of snow here in Norfolk; today the thaw has set in with the temperature reaching a balmy 8.1 C. Oh, and it's been raining all afternoon and evening so far. The garden is still white but already patches of grass are showing through.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

When is a boat with no propeller not a butty?

When it is a paddlewheeler.

I remember seeing this boat on the Grand Union in the Milton Keynes area in the early 1980s. I thought even then, with few lockmiles under my belt, that it was a strange craft. Some years later we got to know the owners who lived in our village near MK. A short while ago I received an e-mail from them saying that advancing years - theirs, not the boat's - were forcing them to downsize.

The most notable feature of the boat is the propulsion system: a large stern-mounted paddlewheel. It's protected by a wire mesh cage above water so there should be little danger of getting anything caught in it. And, of course, there's no chance of getting anything caught round the prop as there isn't one.

This is from the broker's website (Virginia Currer Marine):

Savernake is most unusual, being powered by a stern mounted paddlewheel that is driven by a Lister SR2 diesel engine. Originally built by Fernie Boats and fitted by Foxton Boat Services, she has been extensively refitted internally by the current owner. The base plate has been overplated in 2005, together with the bow and stern sides. The vessel has been in the current ownership for 36 years. Originally built with a composite superstructure, this was replaced with conventional steel in 2008.

Savernake is 49 feet long, was built in 1974 and is for sale at £27,500. Here's a shot of the saloon, taken from the broker's website.

There are more pictures on Virginia Currer's website.

Oh, the downsizing? Our friends have bought a Wilderness Beaver.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Autumn colour

When we left the Black Country Boating Festival after helping to pack it up we headed back to Yardley Wood. Then we set off for a BCF social event at Fazeley.

Coming down the Farmers Bridge locks Jan had to steer round an ex-working boat coming up the flight. There wasn't much room.

The small yellow and red berries were out in profusion along the Aston Locks.

Pyracantha, I believe they are.

This was September 13th. (Six weeks later I am still in shorts.)

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Black Country Boating Festival 2017

We didn't get to Windmill End as early as we had intended this year for the Black Country Boating Festival. Our delay was on account of all the work we were doing at the Birmingham house, mostly painting. We left Cambrian Wharf in time to arrive at the BCBF at 1100; we immediately got stuck in to helping.

At one point we were asked to move the boat from its original mooring at the junction to just a little further on, opposite the main festival site. There we are, with the bunting up (such as it is).

Galileo was looking very good.

On the Sunday (10th Sep) Jan led a short BCF service in the beer tent. This year, for some reason, the local churches didn't get involved and the congregation was consequently small.

We had a good time at the festival despite the showery conditions, and resolved to do it all again next year. When the rain really fell down on Sunday afternoon that was the signal for the crowds to melt away - if that's the right phrase, dissolve might be more appropriate - and for the traders to pack up.

Here are David and Mary leaving on Kew.

Now I must go on the BCBF website and book 2018 ...