Saturday 16 March 2024

Another Quick Visit

 It was time for another check on the boat - just in case and also we had a very short list of tasks to do, including re-filling the fuel tank and replacing the shower bar.

We have been having a tussle most winters with the heating system. We are reluctant to forego the protection of the frost stat entirely but out neighbour has reported that the heater comes on much more frequently than that (as if it was on its normal schedule) and we do 'lose' diesel from the tank.

When we left last time, with the help from Steve next door, we really did think that it was switched off but more diesel had been consumed. Thankfully, the tank was not quite empty as that makes re-starting the heater system rather tedious (usually needed to employ someone more agile than either of us to get to the appropriate recesses of the engine bay!) 

First, however, was the shower. Right at then end of the last season, just before we were holed up at Alvechurch, the shower started to behave very oddly. When it was first turned on, no water emerged until the nearby wash basin tap was turned on just briefly. The shower would then work but all rather worrying. We did get the staff at ABC to take a look, which they kindly did whilst we returned home, but - despite being able to replicate the problem - they could not find a reason, other than to suggest replacing the shower bar, the combined on/off and temperature controller. Last week we bought a new one from  our local Screwfix - we were advised not to bother with anything more expensive than the basis, the chap indicated that they all do the same thing but some look fancier! Andrew had advised that it would be a simple task but we have never attempted it before and, with our track record on plumbing work (ie avoiding it like the plague) it was with some trepidation that we made it the first task (apart from connecting up the hose pipe to ensure that we had some water to test out the shower!) The old bar came off without a hitch and the new one was soon in its place. Could it really be that easy? We put the immersion heater on, as we were connected to the landline, and gave the shower a test. Well, we did not actually disrobe to get in under it for a full run but it does have the appearance of having fixed the problem.

We checked the bilges but they were bone dry and for once the drain channels around the deck board remained clear of leaves. However, we did notice a strange back residue around the rain hole from the starboard stern locker. After the contents had been removed, mainly at the moment a small stock of coke and tonic cans, we were able to mop out a smallish amount of liquid. But why was it black? Where did it come from? Normally if anything gets into the lockers it is rain and usually remains quite clean. No obvious answer until we started to return the stock - one of the coke cans was empty but with the ring pull intact. Even so, the mystery was not completely solved as the can was not keen to be crushed so there was no obvious leak!

Meanwhile, Christine had been stowing away the partial stock of boat clothes to save time when we eventually start off the season. Time then for the rolls we had brought with us for lunch!

After that we cast off and cruised all of the few hundred metres to the fuel point by the office and, after filling up, back to where we started. But at least it was a cruise!

A month ago we switched to an electric car for the first time. So far we had only been to Swindon and back, well within the range. Coming to the marina we should have had plenty for the round trip but we had had a lengthy diversion resulting from a weekend road closure we did not know about until we reached it. In any case, we wanted to try out charging from a public point - the nearest (and the only one working according to one of the online maps/guides) was at Lidl in town. So we locked up the boat about three o'clock and found the charge point - fortunately not in use as there is only one at a time! We did have to download an app but, for once, it went without hitch after we had fed it with all the usual personal details and top-up! We then went to the adjoining B&M and Lidl stores to fill in time and pick up one or two items, including milk for home. 

When we returned the charge session had finished - it had done as much as it could with the £10 top up we had put on, which put us back to just over 80%. We could then set off back without range-anxiety. In fact the road closure was only on the north-bound carriageway of the A419 so no additional miles needed.

We now plan to start our season cruising a week after Easter. We need to head northwards as we are booked in for an extensive boat re-paint, starting late May. (We had to book this two seasons back!) However, we have not been able to set off by now, even for a shakedown cruise, for two unrelated reasons. Firstly, we have had further health issues (more Mike this time) but a Consultant has prescribed medication (only available from last year) that appears to have had very beneficial results. Even without that, we could not have gone very far. There have been planned stoppages both north and south from Hanbury Junction on the Worcester and Birmingham, whilst the winter rains and flooding have closed the Droitwich with sediment that prevented lock operation. We understand that it is expected that all will be clear by Easter (unlike those hoping to do a route via the North Oxford) The River Severn remains closed to navigation and unlikely to recover to a safe level for some time so we do not have much hope of avoiding Tardebigge, yet again. we had hope to be able to avoid going all the way up to the Birmingham level and back down again at Wolverhampton - but we should have time to take it easy!

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