Saturday, August 10, 2013

Narrowboating the Middle Level - 2

WP_20130809_013 (1300x749)The thunderstorms rolled in about 5 am; rain clattered off the top deck of the steel ceiling.  ‘Not much hope of getting more sleep, so I rolled out and boiled some water.  Coffee is always good comfort on a chilly damp morning.

The forecast was for clearing by 9, and the rest of the boats were still asleep, waiting the 9:30 tide to enter the salt river.  The breakfast items were stacked and ready so, burners lit, I got to it.  I always like something warm to start a sailing day, so we did the Full English with Fen Variations before spinning the boat around and heading west.

The  current was with us, and we made good time, stopping at towns and dodging rainclouds most of the morning.  WP_20130809_027 (736x1300)“That’s odd,”, my co-pilot muttered as the boat momentarily hesitated and slowed.  Probably just weeds or current in the narrows, I guessed, leaning over the front and back to check.  Nothing.

The clouds cleared away and we cleared the locks, then started making plans for some lunch and a brew at March, still an hour away at a steady 4 mph.   The sun warmed and the birds disappeared as the heat of the day settled in.  We discussed whether we should have packed in some cold beer along with the healthy things.

Then crossing the most desolate part of the fields, the boat bucked and slowed again.  The engine coughed and died.  The boat drifted into the reeds.  We we looked at each other.  The only sound was the *whoop whoop* of the wind turbines.

WP_20130809_029 (1300x734)“Weeds around the prop?”   I lifted the hatch and took the nuts off the weed case, pulled off a tangle of vines around the shaft.  Try again?  The electrical looked fine, the starter worked,  but  the engine wouldn’t catch.  “Fuel filter?” Out of gas?  We weren’t going anywhere.

WP_20130809_035 (1300x734)It took 2 1/2 hours for the yard to get a truck out across the fields (it’s a bit like chasing a downed balloon), and a full can of red diesel got everything running again.  We’d polished off the pâté and cheese, so ‘nothing left but to have a pint (and a half) of local brew and craft the campfire stories for later.

More pix, as always, at my Flickr site.

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