Monday, 7 May 2007

A convoy and novices.

3 Locks, 91/2 miles, now moored at Clifton Cruisers.
Total of 272 locks and 331 miles and 16 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

There had not been much movement of boats around Braunston when we left this morning but by the time we reached the Oxford canal junction which was only about 1/2 mile we ran into traffic congestion. Just past the junction is a narrow bridge on an angle which means you cannot see if any boats are approaching. Sure as eggs the boat ahead of me had to do a rapid reverse as there was a boat in the bridge hole. I too had to beat a hasty retreat to avoid a collision. Safely through the bridge we had a slow crawl past all the moored boats and it turned out that we were 4th in a convoy of 5 boats. This convoy lasted right up to Hillmorton locks. The first boat had put some distance between us but the remaining 4 stayed in close contact all the way with varying speeds. Going through the locks split us up and a couple stopped for lunch.
Going through the locks was an education with all the novices on hire boats trying to work out what to do. We even had a woman try and close the gates in front of us as her boat left the lock. Majority of the boaters were helping each other so that they didn’t get stuck on the centre island between the 2 locks.
Along the way we checked out the 2 swans sitting on eggs but neither of them has hatched yet. We also passed another Heron boat “Goosey Gander”. The paint work certainly out classed us but that will change given time.
Upon arrival at Clifton cruisers at Clifton wharf we moored up so that I could talk to them about getting the injectors serviced. The service schedule says that they should be serviced at 1500 hours and 3000 hours and as I am unsure whether or not the 1500 service was done, I want to be certain in my own mind that they are OK. The engineer was not working today but will be here tomorrow so we were given an overnight mooring to await his arrival in the morning.
As the weather was still dry I did some more painting outside and while I did this a Black Prince hire boat tried to wind in the disused arm just ahead of us. Well they either were not told how to turn properly or they didn’t listen. They nosed into the arm instead of the bank and then tried to reverse out again with a very strong side wind blowing. The young lady at the helm got it all wrong and slammed the boat back into the concrete wall and dislodged the rudder. Now she was blocking the canal with no steerage. I managed to get hold of their front rope as they came forward but they had no way of turning the boat so a passing boat took his stern rope and pulled him around so we were able to secure him across the arm and leave the canal clear. An S.O.S to Black Prince and an hour’s wait for the rescue man who was able to put the rudder back into the skeg and get them under way again.
Now this morning our Mikuni heating unit shut down in an unusual manner after a short run. Late this afternoon when the temperature started dropping we thought it strange that the unit had not started working. After pulling half the electrical cupboard apart I found the fuses for the heater and one was blown. After finding a spare fuse we put everything back together and switched it on. The unit started to fire up then suddenly shut down. I checked the fuse and it had blown so it looks as if we will have to take the unit out and send it back to the manufacturer for a complete overhaul sooner than planned. At least the weather is warmer and we can easily put on extra clothing or if necessary use the electric heater sparingly. At least we have a couple of weeks to get things sorted before our next NZ visitors arrive.

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