Friday, August 22, 2008

Corbiere has a (nervous) breakdown, Carol goes swimming and we play follow-my-leader in Stone…

Well, we’ve had an interesting couple of days. On Wednesday afternoon Carol decided to change the fuel filter on Corbiere. It’s not been done since she bought the boat, so it’s overdue. She asked me to be on “standby” while she did the swap, as she hadn’t done it before. Neither had I on a BMC diesel! But, how difficult can it be???
Well, the change over went without a hitch. The old filter was well clogged with black muck, so it was a necessary job. It was when we came to bleed the system that the problems arose. Getting the air out of the filter and pump was OK using the manual lever on the lift pump. But to bleed at the injectors you need to crank the engine with the pipe unions slackened. Unfortunately the engine only turned for about 15 seconds before slowly grinding to a halt. Ah, flat battery. It is quite old, fitted in 2001. So we tried coupling in a spare I carry, but with no improvement.
Carol partly charged the battery using her petrol generator till it ran out of fuel, but it still didn’t have enough juice to turn the engine over.
So we called it a day, deciding to breast the boats up in the morning so hers could be jump started from Seyella. I was convinced that it’d start with a decent battery connected.

So yesterday dawned brightly, and I started Seyella up and let her run to make sure the starter battery was charged before we pulled Corbiere up alongside. We connected up the jump leads full of anticipation, which soon turned to disappointment when the engine ground round half a turn before stopping again. After trying various combinations of batteries we gave up and Carol called out the experts. She’s a member of River Canal Rescue, the inland waterways equivalent of the RAC.

While waiting for the “very nice man” (was that the AA ad?) to call back, Carol stepped off her boat carrying a chair and dropped her phone into the canal!
She had to find it, all her phone numbers are on it. But first I called RCR on ours to leave them an alternative number. Then Carol went canal diving.

Yuk! Now, a gentleman would have offered to look instead. If only there'd been one around....
I didn’t hold out much hope, but she persisted and after 5 minutes groping about in the murk came up with a big smile clutching the phone.

Successful Phone Retrieval

We stripped it down and left it to dry, then swapped the SIM card into our spare. Luckily most of her numbers are on the SIM, so she could use that phone instead.

Meanwhile the man from RCR arrived and diagnosed a failed starter motor. He reckoned it was unable to cope with the extra demand of cranking the engine to bleed the fuel system. He had to get one (of course), so would be back in the morning.

Today dawned fine and dry again, and the RCR man arrived as promised. By 11:00 Corbiere was back to herself, the engine chugging happily under the aft deck.

RCR to the rescue

Carol wanted to be down at Great Haywood by tomorrow, so set off after tidying up and putting things away. We let a couple of boats and a short shower pass before following, expecting to catch her up at Meaford Locks.
But one of the boats ahead was very slow, and all we saw of her was a glimpse on a lock side ahead before she moved on again. It took us 1½ hours to drop down the 4 locks. On a good day they can be done in 40 minutes!

Queue at Meaford Top Lock
Mags in Meaford Locks
Into Stone and things went from slow to snail’s pace. It’s a good job we’re philosophical about these things. We stopped to empty a loo and fill with water at Newcastle Road bridge, then moved on to Yard Lock. This is just below the base for the Canal Cruising Company, the place for boat hire in Stone, and they’d just released 4 boats with new crews on the first day of their holidays. It’s always busy with boats around here, and with half a dozen milling around trying to find somewhere to moor while waiting for the lock it was interesting, to say the least!

Lots of boats at above Yard Lock, Stone
Anyway, after about an hour we got through the lock, on to Star Lock and through with no difficulty. Then we had an uneventful trip to and through Aston Lock, stopping about a mile further on.

Apart from a short shower while dropping down the Meaford Locks, we’ve had a dry day. A bit of a record for us. I seem to always get wet in Stone, but not today!

You’ll have noticed there are quite a few pictures of Mags in various locks today. Val, a friend of long standing, emailed to ask if I’d lost her overboard, as she’d had no mentions for the last couple of weeks. So Val, here she is, alive and kicking!

Locks 9, miles 7

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