As we approached Watford Locks on our return south from Crick I realised that the engine speed wasn't increasing when I opened the throttle. I thought I must have caught something on the prop, so I put it into astern to try to shake it off, but this made no difference. Then the deck board above the engine made violent banging noises, so I stopped the engine and drifted into the side.
Inspection of the prop revealed that it was clear. Then it occurred to me to check the level of diesel in the tank. The stick was wet only up to about half an inch. Oops! I was very surprised, as I remembered filling up recently, and I didn't think I'd done much cruising since then. At least I knew now why the engine had misbehaved.
In a jerry can I had a couple of litres of diesel, so I poured it in and we were able to get going again. The locks were only just round the corner, and we had an hour's wait, so, of course, I cut the engine as soon as I could. I considered cycling with the jerry can to Weltonfield Narrowboats, but then Mr. Echoes reminded me that Watford Gap services were close by.
Having descended the locks we tied up by the service station. Possibly the worst mooring ever! Still, I was able to hop over the fence and cross the lorry park to put ten litres in the can (it holds 20, but that would have been unnecessarily heavy. Have you ever looked at so-called white diesel? It's actually green. They did not appear to sell the red stuff. It was almost £1.50 per litre! Ouch! Still, it all went in the tank, and we cruised to tie up just before Bridge 3 for the night.
The next day (Wednesday) we called in at Weltonfield Narrowboats and filled the tank. It took just 83 litres. Another surprise. This meant that the capacity was only about 96 litres or 20 gallons. Now I know the capacity I will be careful not to let it get too low in the future. I hate to think how much crud is now blocking the fuel filter. Better change it very soon, I think.
Oh - the fuel from Weltonfield was the most expensive I've bought on the waterways at £1.00 per litre base price. Self declaration was allowed, though, and it got us out of trouble, so I'm not complaining.
And the reason for running out? Aside from the unusually small tank - I believe most narrowboats are built with 200 litre tanks - I had neglected to take into account the diesel used for heating. I'm now sure that no-one had stolen any, which was my first thought. (Must get a locking fuel cap.)
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