When we had the engine serviced in May we were warned that there was diesel bug in the tank.  In the intervening weeks I have made a number of attempts to find someone who could resolve the issue for us.  One of the problems with our nomadic lifestyle is that we don’t know what is available near us.  I’d made a number of enquiries, hoping to hear back before we passed by.

While we were in Nottingham, I had phoned a boatyard in Shardlow but had only got an answering machine and no call back.  I’d tried again on Monday and had a very positive response.  Vernon had been on holiday last week, but was sure he could help if we came to him.  On Tuesday we set off back up the river to Nottingham.  We sat out the hottest part of the day in the middle of Nottingham and then pressed on in the afternoon.

We filled the water tank before entering the lock at Beeston.  While we were filling a small plastic cruiser arrived and asked if we were locking.  He was pleased to have enough time to get an ice cream while waiting for us, and we went through the lock together.  I realised that I had asked him about his flag as we went by a little earlier (he told me it was a romani travellers flag).

We went up the river section at a similar speed so we arrived at Cranfleet Lock together.  Clare and I went to get the lock ready – and then I came back for the boat.  Our companion was initially reluctant to join us in the lock saying he would wait for his mate and didn’t want to let Clare do it all herself.  I assured him she didn’t mind, and it was no cost to her anyway.  He changed his mind and came in with us.  We were busying ourselves with ropes (going up in a deep lock can be violent, and narrowboats and plastic boats don’t mix well) when his mate arrived and energetically helped.

They told us to go out first and leave them to tidy up the lock.  We moored up very near and waved to them as they passed a few minutes later.  After dinner we went for a stroll in the very warm evening.  They were moored at Trent Lock making tea on the towpath and greeted us like old friends.  After a pleasant chat about many aspects of canal life we carried on along the river to Sawley Lock.  The low sun was spectacular over the river.

Sunset.  The sun is low in the sky and reflected in the wide river.  The skyline is mostly trees but with a church spire prominent.  Some low clouds glow iwith the same golden light as the sun.
Sunset Over the River Trent at Sawley

Wednesday was even warmer.  We got a message from Vernon at about midday asking us to come to the boatyard.  Driving in the midday sun, even I felt the need to put some sun cream on.  After the Sawley Lock we came to a crossing.  The confluence of the Trent and the Derwent is also the start of Trent and Mersey Canal.  I had been warned not to enter the canal, but to turn left to stay on the Trent to reach the marina.

River sign.  The bank of a river is covered in vegetation.  In the vegetation is a large white sign showing directions.  The writing is too small for the sign making it hard to read from the boat travelling upstream.
Large Sign, Small Writing

I had checked the route after the warning and found my way to the marina without any trouble.  We moored up at what seemed to be the right place and I went to find Vernon.  It turned out I was at the wrong slipway, but he showed me where I needed to go – almost a full lap of the marina.  There was hardly any wind, so it was easy enough.  Vernon sampled the diesel tank and concluded attention was needed, but it would have to wait until tomorrow.

The day was extremely warm and the full sun on the panels most of the day meant we had our best ever day for solar power – 6.8 kWh.  The inside of the boat was approaching 30°C though.  We decided to eat at (or rather outside) one of the pubs in the village (several other pubs were available).

This morning as promised Vernon brought along his fuel polishing machine.  The two hoses are used to pull diesel out of the tank, through several filters and back in to the tank again.  All debris larger than 10 μm is intercepted and one of the filters also absorbs water.  This was left to run for several hours ensuring there is nothing but clean diesel in the tank.

I wasn’t keen to stay and listen to the machine – though it wasn’t as loud as I had feared – so we went for a stroll in to Shardlow.  We’d remembered the Shardlow Heritage Centre had been very interesting.  When we arrived it appeared to be shut.  We spoke to a woman nearby who told us the centre was open at weekends and asked if we would be here at the weekend.  When we said not, she invited us to come in and have a look anyway.  It remains as interesting as we’d remembered.  We had a good look round but thanked her and let her get on with her day once she’d finished the mug of tea that was brought in to her just after we arrived.

By the time we got back to Bartimaeus the polishing was nearly complete.  It seems there was a small amount of diesel bug, but it has been caught early.  If we’d done nothing about it things would probably have got worse.  It’s a great relief to know that we don’t have a problem brewing in the tank.

Vernon also showed me how to drain the pre-filter in the engine room.  In theory this should give us early warning of any problems in the fuel in future.  In practice I’m not sure how keen I am to release a mix of water and diesel and then assess its qualities – I’ll probably still leave that to experts.