Pleasantly surprising or Wow!

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Previously was Oveltine factory wharf, no mooring allowed now

Yesterday’s spring weather just begged to be enjoyed on the boat so most reluctantly I went out. To be honest I was virtually kicked out by Gwyn who said I’d only mope about the garden if I didn’t go, thanks Gwyn.

The boat has always started, stammered, and more than not needed to be restarted. She had to be cranked over quite a bit, even after 30 seconds of glow plug heating. Even my trusted engineer at Cowroast remarked on it, and that was following a skim and compression test. But yesterday, she started straight away, and there was just a short cloud of black smoke.  Now come on, you need some smoke, it’s a BMC after all. Not having a bit of smoke would be like owning a Harley Davidson motor bike with a decent silencer on it, it ain’t done. But following the initial puff I could not see any smoke and had to search the hull to find the exhaust outlet. When Calcutt had advised the injector service I thought, yes, will probably make a little difference, but wow! So come on lads and lasses, it wasn’t a hard job, get em out and serviced, you know it’s worth it!

And what a lovely day for a short meander down to Hunton Bridge. Only 5 locks, but all empty (against me) and 4 out of five with both downstream gates left open. Let’s not go into Grand Union lock protocol here, again. It was a lovely day on which I unexpectedly met some friends.

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No didn’t mean him in the armour. Jackie, previously my PA, and Pat were walking towards the pub, or away from the veggie restaurant, depending on what you wish to believe, it was lovely to meet up again after a couple years. Then there was tea and eccles cake with D, who is sleeping rough. The kites were flying overhead, the fish were nibbling, the swans were brooding and the M25 and A41 were crawling to a standstill. What more could a non-liveabord boater want? Well I know I shouldn’t but don’t half fancy one of these houses with a mooring at the foot of the garden. In your dreams!

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How delicately we should tread

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No tales of cruising this time as my trip was rather cut short due to a bug, not diesel bug but tummy bug that laid me up for three days on the boat until kindly rescued and driven home by kindly Lynn. But whilst recuperating who could avoid taking note that spring is here, hence the pics of some flowers whilst I pass on some surprising, to me at least,  good news.

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Being laid up in bed, or on the floor of the boat trying to light the stove, gives one chance to think, and worry about things like our wonderful environment and what we do to it. At present there is much talk about diesel pollution particularly minute particles and the harm to health that they cause. My boat has an old, old BMC engine the type they used to put in Leyland vans and Indian taxis. They smoke, mainly when cold but they smoke. So I got to wondering, ney worrying, what could I do about it. A new engine would cause disproportionate environmental harm due to having to make it. Getting rid of the boat is another option .. mmm. So I looked up references to types of exhaust treatments for small boats. Nothing was obvious but it seems all very confusing. Some employ scrubbers to do it, well that sounded a bit nefarious to me, anyway how do you get a scrubber? An ad in the local paper, “wanted a scrubber to help me stop smoking”?  Then there are cat converters, that sounds just cruel.

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Soot filters, wet exhaust systems, DPFs and other things were mentioned like auto regeneration or passive regeneration. Both of which I was feeling that I could do with at the time, like some Dr Who character. Then I thought to call the experts on these boat engines to see if they would retro fit something to the boat. Put my money where my mouth is so to speak, or spend. Calcutt Boats, friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. And the answer is..

DSCN6492Well the answer is these engines are so old that they don’t generate much in the way of small dangerous particles that get into the blood stream. They are so sooty that particles are too big and as you are out in the open they are not a concern and that is why nobody bothers. They also offered free advice on how to maintain for lowest possible smoking. Good old Calcutt, they would be happy to take my money to retro fit something but don’t worry. I’ll go out and take some more pictures of flowers and the moon while I recover from the bug.

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Down from Oxford

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Having got back from Oxford, Thrupp to be more accurate, I thought I would check on the options for travelling there. By car 42 miles, just over an hour, walking 43 miles and google reckons it to be 13 hours on foot, my foot! By canal boat the planner gives the following for the return journey

Total distance is 230 miles, ½ furlongs and 202 locks. There are at least 38 moveable bridges of which 28 are usually left open; 24 small aqueducts or underbridges and 4 tunnels (including Blisworth Tunnel (3056 yards long) and Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards long). ).

This is made up of 86 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 143 miles, 4¾ furlongs of broad canals; 68 narrow locks; 134 broad locks.

This will take 122 hours, 13 minutes which is 17 days, 3 hours and 13 minutes at 7 hours per day.

Adding my own stats to this it means raising and lowering over 700 gate paddles, opening and closing at least 400 lock gates and running more than 50 thousand tons of water through the locks. It can be seen why it is not a practical mode of transport for anything that is time critical!

These locks have been around since the 1770s and they may take some work and time to pass through but they do reward by way of their picturesque character and obvious history.DSCN5625

Oh but it was hot! My boat is painted Oxford and Union blue and it does get hot in the sun. One day I had reason to walk along the gunnel in bare feet. As soon as I touched the paintwork that was not in shade I was dancing, trying not to fall nor burn my feet. Hence I spent most of one day moored in the woods.DSCN5649

Generally there is something that threatens to disrupt my normal laid back nature. This time it happened as I took my turn to enter a lock at the head of a queue. As the engine throttled up so the oil pressure warning light and siren came on .. which means stop the engine immediately or face its sudden death!. So I did. This was followed by somehow getting back to the bank with no engine and shuffling backwards through the queue to get out of everyone’s way. All was hot!. I was hot, the engine was hot, the steel work was hot, the sun was hot. Now so as not to bore you with a long story I’ll put it this way: No call out engineer available from RCR, contractor advised find replacement sensor, sensor over 30 years old, motor factors need a car reg number !!, found helpful parts shop in Banbury ( CR Marks ) helpful boat supplier ( Calcutt boats )  gave part number over phone, miraculously one in stock, for £5, biked back to boat (too hot) fitted it and all’s well. Just 2 hours delay .. wonderful people!

Now finally a few pictures of curiosities for you. The first does not do justice to the feeling that this stretch of canal goes down hill. Why the water does not run off I could not fathom, but it definitely goes down hill!!DSCN5663

Here is a sad sight. It what happens if a glass fibre boat catches fire.DSCN5622

There must be a story behind this land locked narrow boat.

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And here is a hint to slow down before passing the moored boats.DSCN5671