Thursday, 6 June 2013

On to Yelvertoft

Unlike the intermittent trains, the background rumbling of the traffic on the M1 sent us off to sleep.  As usual Jan was first up.  Still no sign of that morning cuppa and biscuit in bed.  It’s only been 42 years so I must be terribly patient!

Just as we were about to go outside and move forward towards the water point the laptop started making funny noises.  It was Favourite Mother-in-Law (FMIL) calling from Sydney Australia via Skype.  Great timing.  five minutes later and we would have been outside.  Thirty minutes were spent catching up on family news.  This internet can be a marvellous thing!

We pulled forward onto the water point by hand (well actually Jan did most of the manual stuff whilst I used my supervisory skills) as we didn’t want to wake the neighbours.  Just as Jan started pulling the boat the neighbour stuck his head out the hatch to say hello.  Oh well… by then Jan had her shoulder into the rope!  Whilst I watched the tank fill Jan went off to find the lock keeper and book our passage up through the flight.

Bottom of the flight with the water point to the right

They both returned just as the water tank started to overflow, so that was damned good timing.  It was a reasonably quick journey up through the locks.  The first two are individual locks and then there is a flight of four staircase locks.  The gates on the staircase locks look very tall when viewed from the boat.

It’s the first time we’ve done locks with the red and white paddles so the lock keeper carefully explained the sequence they were to be opened and closed.

“You open this red on first and then the white one…. got it?”

Looking back…..

The lock keeper disappeared as Jan was finishing the top lock only to return shortly thereafter with a signed certificate stating Jan was now competent to operate the locks.

Jan disposed of our rubbish before we exited the lock.  Fortunately there was a boat waiting to go down so there was no requirement to close the gate.  During the trip up the flight we had an interesting conversation about the close proximity of the rail line and the motorway.  They all seemed to squeeze through this piece of ground at Watford.  I’d recalled the term “Watford Gap” from somewhere and a look at Wikipedia reminded me that the Watford Gap has been used as a route between the Midlands and the South-East since Roman times.   Actually I thought there was a city named Watford with a well known soccer team.  But I must have the wrong Watford.

We met a hire boat coming towards us just before we reached the southern portal of the Crick Tunnel and they mentioned there was another boat behind them.  Of course we met the 2nd boat in the tunnel and went on to meet a 3rd boat towards the far end.  The first ¾ of the tunnel was dry (ie, no water dripping from the roof of the tunnel) but the last quarter compensated by thoroughly wetting the roof of the boat (and us!)

North portal of Crick Tunnel

It was a quick (10 minute) walk to the Co-op in Crick to buy Jan’s magazines.  Whilst there we also purchased some frozen fish for dinner on Friday.  What wasn’t on the list were the five custard filled doughnuts that I observed begging to be bought!  Now you know why Jan hates taking me food shopping.

As we were getting ready to depart nb Maisibert appeared heading south.  We exchange greeting with Andy mentioning we had read their blog.

Not long after departing Crick I felt something was wrong with the steering.  Looking at the wake the wash from the propeller was coming out at 45° to the centre line of the boat instead of directly astern.  It appeared likely something was fouling either the propeller or the rudder.  We attempted to moor but the canal was too shallow.  However all my efforts with the engine to get us moored appeared to have fixed the problem. 

The lambs in the field on the opposite bank were watching our efforts so Jan started calling out “Baa Baa”.  There was no response.  I also decided to be silly calling out “Maa Maa”.  They just looked at us as if we were crazy.  Obviously they didn’t understand our Kiwi accents! Smile Yelvertoft Marina appeared on our starboard side and we decided it was time to stop talking to the English sheep.  On the far side of the marina we could see nb Doo Lalli Alli.  Ben Harp’s last boat.

Poor Chris and Allison’s holiday must be over.  Back to being tax payers!

Not long afterwards the steering started playing up for the second time.  Again we moored (with difficulty) and down the weed hatch I went.  Pity my arms aren’t longer as this particular activity requires me to lie flat on the deck with my arms and shoulders down the hatch.  My braille skills were used in the murky water to grope the propeller and squeeze the shaft.  Nothing there!  I even felt the rudder!  The problem again appeared to have cleared itself during our mooring efforts.  After all this excitement we decided to call it quits for the day finding a suitable mooring spot around the bend.

Just as I was starting to relax watching Jan bake and cook I realised the Vetus dripless stern gear hadn’t been given it’s six monthly drop of silicone grease.  This is one job I’ve been deferring as it requires the engine to be embraced and the flexibility of an Indian rubber man to reach the nipple.  Actually, I exaggerate, it was difficult rather than impossible.

A small bolt with an ‘Allen Key’ head has to be removed to apply the very small amount of grease to the shaft (top red arrow).  I could just reach it at full stretch.  The last thing I wanted to do was drop the bolt into the bilge as reaching it there would be impossible!  The Vetus rep at the Crick Show had told me to rotate the shaft as the grease was applied.  That’s when I realised the black morse control cable (bottom red arrow) was actually resting on the rotating part of the Python Drive thrust bearing.  On feeling the underside of the cable I identified the outer plastic protective casing on the cable was starting to be worn away by the friction of the rotating thrust bearing.  It’s obviously something that was overlooked when the cable was installed.  The cable has now been lifted well away from the Python Drive and secured with a couple of cable ties.


Carol Palin said...

The rhyme that we were told was ‘white before red and you’re dead!'

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Carol,
Jan prefers the "not giving the Lockie a Fright!"
I suspect it would be me that got the fright! :-)