Wednesday 31 July 2019

Farewell to Patience

And so, farewell then, dear Patience.
After ten years of interest, challenge, friendship, peaceful retreat, security and adventure, Patience today changed ownership and we walked away leaving her in her usual home at Welford. Now she's being cared for by Malc while John and I will move on to other projects. Not without regret, we have wonderful memories of adventures (exploring all the Cambridgeshire rivers), mishaps (a log in the prop, acres of weed, a suddenly dead battery), triumphs (our processing along the Cambridge Backs), scenery (everywhere, sunlight and dappled shade, mooring under the church at Fotheringay) and just great pleasure.
Here, in yellow, is where we got to.

If you've ever been tempted by narrow boating, do give it a go. We found that a serviceable boat can be bought for around £30,000. It should cost about £3,000 pa to run including insurance, servicing, fuel, mooring, registration with CRT and general maintenance. We split this between the two of us, which meant half the cost and twice the friendship and support. And I would say, as a clueless mechanic, make sure at least one of you knows bit about engines, plumbing and electrics. That's John.

And so it ends.
And there's no need for John to worry about sudden dying batteries, unexplained engine noises, or water in the bilges.
And there's nowhere for me to retreat to when I need to revive my spirits, nowhere I can cruise contentedly in the green dappled shade or sleep peacefully while Patience rocks me gently to sleep.

Thank you Patience, and goodbye.

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Narrow Boat Art

While on our last trip to Foxton, and in the Foxton Locks Inn, I found this framed painting of two narrow boats. I'd admired it in the past and this time copied it for all to see.

Artist, David Juckes

Sunday 30 June 2019

Narrow boat for sale

We spent a couple of days relaxedly drifting up to Foxton and back for what could be the final voyage of our ownership of Patience. Yes, John and Duncan are putting dear Patience up for sale after ten years of delightful trips and good companionship. We took our wives with us to enjoy the boating and  relax into the dappled shade and warm sun between Welford and Foxton. Surprisingly few boats out on the water and lots of room to moor. Foxton Locks looked attractive in the summer evening sun.
And so ten happy years, first at Stretham, then Oundle and finally Welford - all convenient and comfortable moorings - comes to an end. Patience is in good shape, comfortable and sound, having been maintained to the highest standard throughout. We'll be sad to leave her, but she deserves someone who will use her more frequently and perhaps take her on new adventures.

If you are interested, add a comment below and we'll get back to you and arrange a viewing. There is interest at Welford already!
For the record she is 45 feet long, (as long as the cabin of the new Gulfstream G600 jet but compact enough to fit into every part of the canal system), built in 1994 and in very good shape. She is currently comfortably moored at Welford off the Leicester branch of the Grand Union and though we cannot guarantee that our mooring will be available in future, the marina owners would be open to discussion.
She has four berths, a new stove, a pump-through toilet, gas hob and oven, 12volt fridge and we'll include cutlery and cooking kit plus boating spares and paint. Anything else, just ask!

Thursday 11 April 2019

New season's maintenance

The weather may be up and down, blowing and snowing followed by warm sunshine, but the general trend is warming and that means time to give Patience an airing.
Today was our second maintenance day of the season, plus we took a couple of walking pals out for a short trip to the end of the Welford Arm and back. With a walk in the morning, the usual excellent lunch at The Wharf and a couple of hours going there and back, the pals proclaimed their delight "with child-like enthusiasm."
But today was scrubbing the roof (pale, non-slip but harbours dark dirt) and treating the fore-deck with red oxide in preparation for a re-paint. The water tank, recently given its annual coat of potable bitumen, was filled a little with chlorine to clear the pipes, and now is half-full, ready for any journey we might take.
It's still cold in the evenings, but we have a beautiful new stove and lots of fuel, so we are ready for anything. Spring has sprung at Welford Marina.

Friday 11 January 2019

Curious Boats At Bow

In mid January four of us broke our usual pattern of monthly walks in the East Anglian countryside and took ourselves to Bow and Limehouse. Very flat walking, lots of interest and lots of individual boats. Do visit the Ragged School Museum and The Grapes pub.

What do you think of these quirky boats?

 This is the same boat photographed from each end. It's a lifeboat from a sea going vessel and there are quite a few around, especially in the London area. Usually painted orange so they can be more easily found at sea there is also one famously painted in blue.
And this small sculpture was being used to moor a narrow boat. The two chaps are doing a good job.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Annual Engine Service

Having taken Patience out for the last significant cruise of the season and with the autumn evenings drawing in, it is time to give her engine its annual service, including this year, replacing the antifreeze.

The first task was to drain the cooling system, with the engine cold, and refill with a 50/50 mix of blue ethylene glycol antifreeze and water, see earlier blog for more details. This year I was able to buy a single container of 20 litres of Triple QX Blue Antifreeze from Euro Car Parts in Cambridge for a lower price than three separate 5 litre containers. That not only saved us money, but allowed us to get the mixture right up to 50% and also keep two or three litres spare for topping up.

Then, with the engine warmed up, I changed the oil and oil filter. The sump pump on the BMC 1.8 litre engine makes this a relatively quick and easy task compared to changing the anti-freeze.

I then replaced the fuel filter, which should also be done with the engine warmed up, as it makes for easier starting after the swap. This is rather a messy job, as it is impossible to avoid all the fuel in the old filter going down into the engine sump. The old filter looked to be nice and clean, which suggests that the fuel is also in good condition. After reassembling the bowl with the new filter and sealing rings, I was very careful to make sure I bled the fuel filter of any air before trying to start the engine. Air in the system has caused headaches on previous occasions, see earlier blog.

As the tappet clearances had been checked earlier in the year, I left these for another time, but I did check the drive belt tension, which was fine.

Finally, it only remained to take the old oil and antifreeze solution down to the local recycling centre, who seem increasingly reluctant to take antifreeze solution, especially when you are trying to offload about 32 litres of it!

Saturday 6 October 2018

Weedon Weed

We took Patience for her last trip of the season, heading for Weedon to see the fire engine collection. Unfortunately that seems to have moved to Hampshire since we last visited. More details here.
Nevertheless we set off on a cold morning, warmed by the sun as it emerged and with the leaves turning and falling into the canal our passage to Crick was very tranquil - with one exception.
John noticed that the ammeter wasn't showing its usual reading which suggested the batteries were not being correctly charged. After a while scratching our heads and pondering awful possibilities the fridge, briefly silenced, started up automatically and the ammeter now gave its normal reading.
What happened was that because the fridge was left on when the battery was switched off, when we switched the batteries on again the fridge safety switch had been triggered to protect the batteries being run down. After 15 minutes it started up again on its own and we have solved the mystery. Our fridge is too clever for us!
Next day, even colder and now overcast, we go through Crick tunnel and join the queue at Watford, noting that water shortages are restricting opening hours to 10am to 3pm. No problem for us in this direction, but we'll have to take care coming back up. Through the heavy double width locks at Buckby we pause at Whilton Marina for a valuation of Patience while we consider whether our time with Patience is drawing to a close. Mr Steele is very optimistic about her and of course we know she's a reliable boat. Maybe after nine years of ownership it's time for a change.
Further south there are obvious signs of towpath work: grass mixes with leaves and twigs across the canal. And it is this, we think, that causes us to slow down as we approach Weedon. The first warning sign is when, after keeping up with an elderly lady stumbling down the towpath, we find we are falling behind, even while the prop goes round faster our progress gets slower. After a bit of a panic, revving the engine back and forth a few times and clearing a few stray weeds from the prop, we set off at a regular speed, convinced it was weed at Weedon. Shortly afterwards I spy a sign saying dredging is to be carried out in the area, which seems to confirm that the cause was weed plus shallow water. Beware the area around Weedon!
We feed well at the Chef and Brewer, "proper" pubs seeming to be short on food, and next morning set off before breakfast to ensure we can pass through the flights at Buckby and Watford in good time, given their restricted opening.
Our previous diagnosis is confirmed as we pass sluggishly through a mile or so north of Weedon before picking up speed again.
Here Nebulae is twinned as both boats head through the double width locks at Buckby.
We arrive at Watford bottom lock at 12.30 and start up at 1pm. The lock keeper says that last entry is at 3.15 but that yesterday it was so busy that people arriving at 2pm didn't make it through and so didn't start in until 10am this morning! And there's nothing to do overnight at Watford top lock!
Here we are at the edge of the pound half way up the Watford flight.

Fortunately we emerge and arrive at Crick for 2.30 where we rest overnight.
Next day is easy travel over familiar territory and we pass the Welford arm to pop in to North Kilworth for a top up of fuel and a final pump out for the year. The new marina is filling up with boats, but Welford is still our home and it's with some regret that we load up the car with perishables and bedding before winter maintenance.