Thursday 5 October 2023

Have prop - ready to go!

Today's canal - Grand Union 

When we left the story a couple of weeks ago we were still being a bit vague about exactly what was damaged. As this was recommended bu RCTR as an insurance claim we wanted to be assured that everyone was agreed on the diagnosis and the necessary repairs. We are not particularly au fait with what a good or a bad prop and drive shaft should look like and much of the working parts are invisible. Hence we relied on the experts to decide. The prop, shaft, stern tube and coupler all needed to be replaced - remember that prior to the incident we were unaware of any undue vibration through the tiller arm (the usual way that one learns about problems 'down under')

We have been back at home for a couple of weeks whilst RCR (Canal Contracting) arranged for the boat to be repaired. The initial step was to have the boat towed to the nearest boatyard that could do the work - this turned out to be P and S at Watford. The last we had seen of nb Alchemy was it being towed backwards to the nearest winding hole! However, the boatyard could not start for almost a week - they do have their own large crane but have a steady stream of work, particularly in lifting boats for surveys, blacking and prop repairs. Until they could lift the boat out they could not assess the damage and order parts. This was done a week ago and the parts arrived on Monday.

Alas, the new prop arrived itself already damaged! (Well, at least it saves the next obstruction having to do the work . . . ) The boatyard were able to do the rest of the work and when another prop arrived on Tuesday it was fitted immediately. By then it was too late in the day to put the boat back in the water so that had to wait until Wednesday,

We were on tenterhooks all day with no news and by now we were all ready, packed and mostly loaded into the car so that we could make a good start today. Eventually the call came and we were 'good to go'.

Christine had another appointment with the osteopath at 10:15 for a half hour of follow up treatment to her neck - the initial session last week seems to have had good results. Whilst this was happening Mike made a quick trip to the weekly market for some fruit and veg and also popped to the filling station to ensure that we had a full tank of diesel.

The journey up was straightforward and slightly quicker than the ETA; much of the route was now quite familiar, only the final part on the M25 and then the urban roads around Rickmansworth were new territory. Having sussed out the journey on Google Street View we at least knew where the entrance to the marina was, it is not exactly easy to spot.

We made contact with the boatyard who showed us the damaged and replaced parts. (We have little idea about the detail of the damage - we were entirely reliant on the initial report from the rescue engineer) However, they had had to move the boat out onto the towpath to make room for the next job but offered to bring it across to the service wharf for the marina. (The boatyard is a quite separate business from the marina so sometimes interactions need negotiations!) However we did need access from the car to the boat in order to unload supplies. In the end this was quite straightforward. We did, in any case, need to replace a gas bottle. We also made sure that the fuel tank was topped up but it was nearly full anyway.

The marina were keen that we moved the boat off the wharf as soon as possible in case another boat arrived. Not many customers at this time of the year but, as it turned out, as soon as we left a boat coming down the next lock did want supplies so if we had not moved we would have bneen in the way! Fortunately the space where the boat had been overnight was still vacant - there are plenty of long stayers in these parts so moorings are not always easy to find.

Whilst Christine stowed stuff away, Mike the main road bridge alongside, and drove to the nearby Morrisons for the planned shopping trip. He took with him the neighbouring boater (fitting out his latest project boat - he is a professional interior carpenter by trade, more kitchens than boats right now) who had mentioned earlier that he was also need to go there. At least this meant that Mike had a bit of help carrying the load back from the car to the towpath.

By the time we were all packed away it felt a bit late to set off and we managed to tie up just clear of the marina entrance.

At this stage we can pay tribute to RCR who made all the arrangements including the initial 'rescue' and the tow. We would have found it quite hard to know where to turn if on our own as we are not familiar with the services in this part of the system. Tushka (hope that is the right spelling of her name, we have not seen it written!) has handled all the interactions, including with the insurer and been very willing to keep us in the loop at each stage. Thanks!


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