Up early this morning to watch the Australian F1 Grand Prix, and I think I should be fairly safe now if I mention the result: a win for Jenson Button! And Barrichello coming second means Ross Braun's team, based here in Northamptonshire, has a one-two in its first race independent of Honda.
That was a good start to the day. Not so good when we tried to set off at about 10:00. I know you're supposed to check that you have drive before untying, but it always works, doesn't it? Has done for me, anyway. Until now. Pushed off from the bank, selected forward ... and nothing. Engine revved, but no movement from the prop. Oops. We're now drifting away fom the bank with no power. Before I could even think of getting the shaft to push us back, the friendly chap from the boat moored in front, Dave of Adrastea, had jumped on and grabbed a rope. Thanks, Dave! Now began the search for the problem. Could it be that something in the windlass/mooring pins locker was fouling the Morse control? No. Let's check the gearbox oil level then, said Dave, who responded to a fellow boater in need magnificently. Unscrewed the dipstick; checked for oil: dry. Search for oil, find 15W40 engine oil. Dave produced an extremely useful small plastic measuring jug which he keeps for the purpose, and we pt in a pint of Morris's best. And another. And a third pint: now there was some oil at last on the bottom of the dipstick. Where had it all gone? And why? Answers to both questions coming up. Meanwhile we started Shadow's engine, put it in gear, and wached the propshaft turn. Great! Fixed! Thanks Dave, see you up the cut sometime. Untied, pushed off, selected forward, and you don't need me to tell you that nothing happened for the second time this morning. I think this time I hadn't pushed off so eagerly, and quickly tied up again, this time with bow and stern ropes. This was now serious: the gearbox was obviously dumping all its oil somewhere. I phoned the OwnerShip's helpline number and spoke to Guy Sherrat, describing the probem. Guy said he'd get someone over to us straight away. Twenty minutes later, yes, just TWENTY!, his son Nick arrived and got stuck in. I hadn't even noticed he'd turned up as I was chatting to Dave, but there he was, inside the engine hole, locating the leak. A copper pipe, which carries the gearbox oil to the oil cooler, had fractured. As soon as we'd engaged gear it had squirted the oil out into the engine bilge. And it's a good job it went there as it could have gone into the main bilge mixing up with the water there, with potential polluting consequences. Before Nick arrived I had started bailing out the engine bilge, pouring the contents into an old milk container. When it was full, the oil was floating on top of a green liquid: antifreeze. I think the engine coolant must have ben overfilled in the past. With the fault located Nick remade the oil pipe connection and refilled the gearbox. And that was that. Done! From the time of my phone call to job completion was just one hour. Actually, we could hardly have broken down in a better place: Nick lives all of a couple of miles away!
So for the third time we untied and confidently pulled away (letting The Beez Neez pass us first). Thanks Dave and thanks Nick! We'd get the engine bilge pumped out properly later. We followed The Beez Neez up Watford Locks, clearing them at 14:45.
The weather today has been sunny, with a cool breeze: a nice change from the hail showers and wind of yesterday.
At 16:00 we tied up between Bridges 13 and 14 to climb Cracks Hill in the sunshine. I don't know why we hadn't done it before: it was a short steep walk to the top. From the summit there's a rare thing for a hill: a marvellous 360 degree view over the surrounding countryside: in this case parts of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.
A little further on, by Bridge 18, the fields on the offside were divided up by newly erected fences of clear polythene about 1' 6" high, stretching as far as the eye could see. I have no idea what it's for.
At 19:10 we moored for the night just north of Bridge 27. On-board chicken and mushroom pie, potatoes and broccoli. All done in the microwave oven. By me.
Other things of note today: we've heard a woodpecker every day so far; we also noticed the white hawthorn blossom in the woods just south of here.
Tomorrow we aim to get through Foxton Locks, then either a trip down the Market Harborough Arm or onto new territory: the Leicester Section north of Foxton.
Apologies for the lack of photos: I managed to get them onto this laptop, but I don't know how to resize them for uploading to Blogger. And they're big 4.5MB files at the moment.
Castle and back on a boat - It was another beautiful cold but sunny day in Edinburgh, and the sun on Edinburgh Castle was a sight we will never forget... As it was a Monday we thought ...
5 hours ago