The visit from Rob and Ian from Ortomarine on Thursday didn’t go to plan. Rob called it a literal rain check – it was too wet to start trying to stick things to the roof. We did get a new belt for the electric drive though. Rob was of the opinion that the old one was probably broken by the propellor hitting something solid, as it showed little sign of wear – just tear! They also installed a spare belt which can be brought in to service without splitting the drive shaft. So if the new one breaks I might even be able to fit it myself – we’ll see.
After seeing Heather and Benny to the station yesterday, we moved on to get a little more charge in to the batteries. There were no opportunities for winding until we had worked through two more double width locks. Clare gamely took on the task leaving me to enjoy using electric drive in locks once again. Our only chance to wind before reaching the Hatton Lock Flight was at the entrance to the Saltisford Arm home of the Saltisford Canal Trust. We have arranged to leave Bartimaeus here during December, so I was keen to see what the place was like. Instead of turning at the entrance, we drove in hoping for an overnight mooring.
By the time we arrived the office was closed. However, a head popped up from a boat as we passed and asked if we were looking for an overnight mooring. When we said yes, he told us where to moor, and to come to the office in the morning. Mooring involved winding and then reversing back a short way before slotting ourselves between two other boats with a foot or two to spare. All very easy with gentle electric drive and bow thruster.
I’ve not warmed to staying in marinas, but being on the side of a dead-end arm like this is much more like our usual canal-side moorings. During breakfast this morning, I spotted a kingfisher landing on a branch opposite my window – Clare saw it too as it flashed away towards the end of the arm. For that and other reasons we have settled on staying in the arm until we return to Edinburgh on Tuesday, and leaving the boat here while we are away.
There are a number of canal themed exhibits in the grounds. Directly level with us is an ice-breaker boat. This was horse-drawn by “as many horses as needed” and crewed by five to ten men to rock it violently from side to side. It was made by a railway company and has a piece of railway line as part of its ice breaking armour. It was not named when in service, but has been named “Marple” in honour of its working location.
The day started quite wet, so we concentrated on domestic matters. With electric hook-up available the batteries are now fully charged and equalised again. We also got a load of washing done and hung up under the pram cover to dry. Filling up with water can also be done without driving anywhere. The cute design of the standpipe hides a clever design. Lifting the “nose” removes the face and reveals the tap. The back of the face is filled with insulation, to protect the tap from frost.
The aim of the Canal Trust is to restore the arm to use. Our mooring fees are part of what pays for maintenance and rent. The grounds including the orchard and meeting rooms are open to the public. For the convenience of boaters there are several gates on to the adjacent roads. These are locked out of hours, but conveniently they can be opened with a BWB key (British Waterways Board was the predecessor to Canal and River Trust) – the same one we need to have for accessing water points, some swing bridges etc. One minor eccentricity of the lock on the gate nearest town is that when unlocked, the shank falls off. When reconstructed it locks perfectly well, it is just a bit fiddly.
We spent the afternoon wandering around Warwick in the warm sunshine. There’s plenty more to see while we are here.