Thursday, 30 October 2014

Hillmorton and what’s that smell!

After disposing of the rubbish responsibly and doing the last of the food shopping we slipped our mooring and headed south in grey but fine weather.  Jan got to see the small changes at Clifton Wharf before we passed the golf course moorings which to our surprise, had only one boat on them.  Shortly thereafter we met our first moving boat.  It was Pip and Roger on nb WindsongThere was only enough time to call out before we had passed going our separate ways.

The water pressure below Hillmorton Locks is always poor so we had lunch whilst the tank filled.  To our surprise there were two volunteer lock keepers operating the lower lock.  Apparently this ceases at the beginning of next month.  One of them recorded Waiouru’s boat index number which will mean an update to the CRT boat movement database.  In response to my query the lock keeper told us the work on the top locks had been completed with the top gate on the left lock being replaced and the bottom mitre gates on right also being replaced.

You might be able to see the 2014 plaque on the top beam

The mitre gates also look new as they are unpainted.

Jan thought CRT had also replaced the paddle gear as it appeared to wind very easily.  I also initially thought it was new as I didn’t recognise the design.

Then I realised the paddle gear on all six locks was the same and deduced it was highly unlikely that all of them would have been replaced.  It’s more likely we’ve become used to some rather “rough”paddle gear during this year’s cruising and had forgotten just how good the Hillmorton Locks are maintained.  It is one of the major arterial canals will approximately 10,000 boat movements annually.

We hadn’t gone more than a kilometre when we noticed a foul sulphurous smell like rotten eggs.  Jan thought it might be something the farmer had sprayed on his crop whilst I thought some errant boater had emptied their cassette into the hedgerow.  Suffice to say the smell disappeared.

It started to drizzle on the approach to Barby Straight and then settled into light rain.  At the end of the straight we decided there was no need to cruise in the rain and started looking for some piling to moor against.  A kilometre after Barby Straight we found a vacant spot and moored.  Jan went inside whilst I erected the TV aerial, stove flue and pram cover.   A shout of alarm from Jan drew my attention to a potential problem inside.  The boat stank of rotten eggs!  Logic kicked in.  Possible causes

  1. Passed that smell and odour was trapped in the boat.  Highly unlikely
  2. Leak from domestic battery bank.  Checked batteries – all OK.
  3. Leak from toilet tank.  Checked tank – no leak.  Took cap off pump out point and had sniff.  No… ours doesn’t stink!
  4. Plumbing issue with blockage and gas build up.  Run water through galley sink and hand basin.  No problems.
  5. Hose disconnected to shower pump and grey water emptying into the bilge.  Check hose and connections all OK.  Run water through shower – all OK.
  6. Check smell from filled water tank and water pump.  Everything OK.

By now the smell was starting to dissipate and I was thinking we might not have a problem.  Were we chasing ghosts?  Jan was convinced the smell was stronger in the bedroom and cratch.  I checked the side locker and diesel tank.  No smell!  This left only one other place.  The bow thruster locker.  It’s the last place I want to check because it’s stuffed full of junk essential items you might require at some future date.  Who wants to empty their bow thruster locker in the rain.  So I started removing everything from the locker and was almost overcome by the fumes.  Eventually I was able to get some fresh air into the cratch and remove enough of those essential items to see a vapourish gas leaking from the bow thruster battery compartment.  After unscrewing and removing the lid I could see one of the batteries was venting (they are sealed lead-acid) and was quite hot to the touch.  We had found the source of the smell.

I turned the bow thruster isolation switch to OFF and disconnected the battery before carefully wrapping the bare cable terminals in insulation tape.  The battery was then removed and placed on the bank.

I wonder how long the battery has been slowly failing?  At least we are close to Braunston where there are three chandlers.  

1 comment :

Marilyn McDonald said...

Bowthrusters are clearly problematical, Tom. Fill the tube with Mastic and use the tiller more.
Cheers, M