Sunday 8th May.
A Day of Rest.
We moored just below Hanwell Bottom Lock and if you know this area, it is also just below the outlet of the River Brent into the Grand Union. It would appear that there is considerable rotting foliage carried down by the Brent and when it gets into the cut, it stops right there to ferment under water. The result is a bad smell of methane gas, which bubbles away around and beneath your boat, where it collects and only escapes when the boat is moved slightly. This is akin to the boat farting when I get out of bed and tilt is very slightly – not a pleasant experience, but it is the only place to moor close to the pub. Andrew asked what time I wanted to let go in the morning. I suggested about 09.00, to which he replied, “How about a compromise?” I then amended it to 08.30 and he replied “How about 8 am Ray?” So that was it – we departed at 08.00.
In exactly two hours we navigated Hanwell six and Norwood Top Lock, with only one hour to go to Bull’s Bridge, where I intended to stay for 24 hrs. I was forced to pull in and release a mound of plastic from the blades just after Norwood, as the engine was smoking badly every time I opened the throttle. What a difference it make to have a clean propeller.
As soon as I moored up on empty moorings, I sat down and fell asleep, such was the strain after a very long day, with a party at the end and little sleep for the past two nights. When I felt recovered, I found time to tackle this blog and just take it easy after a little excursion to the mighty Tesco close by. It was to be an early night for me.
Carol and George on Still Rockin’ commented on my blog and I made arrangements to wait for them at Bull’s Bridge on Monday. I had to get their mobile number first via Sue and Vic on nb No Problem, so that it the way the modern towpath telegraph works now. I first contacted them about an Axiom propeller many years ago, but we have never met up for any length of time to talk. Usually we pass each other travelling in the opposite direction, so I am looking forward to that.
Monday 9th May
An Extended Day at Bull’s Bridge.
My first task of the day was to sort out one of the alternators. I noticed previously that it was no longer charging, because the main connection to the batteries was broken off, caused by excessive vibration. Sure enough the drive belt was very slack. That was the point where I discovered that a bolt had sheared off, which held the alternator bracket to the engine. This high tensile bolt has been a weak point for years and replaced many times. The whole bracket really needs to be redesigned. I also needed a new crimping terminal on the main wire, which I hope to get at Uxbridge Boats later. How some of these boats manage to cruise without a set of tools I cannot imagine – they must spend a fortune on having a boatyard do it all.
Job done and working well after an hour or so. At least the engine was cold this morning, making the task much more comfortable than when it is hot.
Still Rockin’ moored up at 14.00, just as predicted and I was invited aboard for coffee. Although I had seen the interior of a wide beam boat before, this was like Buckingham Palace inside and out, with so much room and storage. I reckon I could continue living on one of these along with all the clutter that is in my house, along with the ¾ ton lathe in the garage. I can understand that people without a house would much prefer one of these than a narrow boat. We had lots of conversation about living on board and the advantages of the Schilling rudder for improving the handling. I did some research on this and discovered that someone constructed and fitted one to a narrow boat in 2007, but I was not convinced that it made very much improvement to the manoeuvrability.
George and Carol invited me for dinner that evening, so more boating conversation flowed, yet we didn’t mention toilets (a favourite boaters’ conversation) once.
Tuesday 10th May
Rain and more rain all day. Despite the 24hr mooring restriction, I decided that I would remain here until things brightened up somewhat. I have to admit that it was a very lazy day, but also a chance to recover from the last few days of early mornings and long days of boating. I invited George and Carol on board for coffee and Molly, their Patterdale terrier, enjoyed exploring new territory.
Molly appeared to be camera shy.
An interesting boat was buzzing about on the water, so we had to investigate. Not exactly a dredger, but it was scooping up debris from the bottom of the cut and dumping it in the hopper on board. It was shared between the GU and River Lea area every few months, which is where I had previously seen it, although not in action then.
Wednesday 11th May.
A window in the weather was forecast, so it was time to move on, but not very far. Carol and George had moored up by Packet Boat Marina and recommended a pub, so that was my mission for the day. A nice quiet mooring with services opposite. Rain again that night and it was filling up my gas locker, because there was no protection to the edges of the locker lid. All is well with the canvas cover over the cockpit, but I cannot cruise with that on. Must think of an alternative way – maybe slope the locker lid slightly?
Nb Victoria passed by my mooring in the afternoon at a speed sufficient to pull my mooring pins loose. That Mike Askin travels too fast past moored boats. If I tackled him about it he would say “You are not moored up properly.” Which was certainly the case, as I had no spring line out at the time.