Water Issues

From the train on our journey down we saw many swollen rivers and flooded fields.  This has been our longest time away from Bartimaeus since we started.  There were a number of reasons for delaying our return, but included in the mix was the very wet weather.

While we’ve been away, we’ve relied on shore power to keep the batteries topped up, and to run the little greenhouse heater to keep the cabin above freezing.  It is easy to keep an eye on things remotely, so I did so obsessively.  In mid-February the shore power abruptly turned off.  When it hadn’t come back on after a couple of days, I emailed the marina about it.  They told me that our supply had tripped so they checked the power cable.  When unplugged, water poured out of the (boat) end.  This was a surprise to everyone as the connector is under a shelf inside the cratch cover – how could it get wet at all?

Penny, the marina owner generously connected the other end of the boat with one of her own cables so all was well.  By coincidence the sun was by then high and strong enough to keep the batteries topped up unaided as long as we didn’t need heating.  It’s also stayed above freezing since.

We arrived at the marina at sunset.  I had turned the heating on from Edinburgh and was pleased to confirm that the cabin was pleasantly warm when we arrived.  Flicking most of the big bank of electrical switches on brought the boat back to life.

Next morning began with trying to sort out important details.  There was a laundry backlog from when we had no heating, so we decided to run the washing machine before we unhooked from shore power.  By the time it had run our control panel water level was flashing a red 0 at us.  We could get water near the marina exit before we departed, but not easily where we were.

Meanwhile I also wanted to check the water levels in the batteries.  They were quite thirsty and the de-ionised water supply bottle was low, and soon empty.  Penny came to the rescue again, so the batteries got their thirst quenched and we have a few months more supply on board.

Penny also suggested I remove the ends from the power cable and she would test the cable itself.  As she had expected, the cable failed the test.  It seems that water must have been seeping in so that the copper was oxidising and forming a capacitor.  This isn’t dangerous in itself, but earth leakage equipment identifies it as a fault.  We’ll get a new one before we next have to rely on shore power, and store it somewhere dry when not in use too.

We were both hungry by the time we were ready to go, so we had lunch before setting off.  It was only as we filled up the water tank that we finally made the next important decision.  On exit we turned … right!  We cruised a few miles before mooring up just before the Hillmorton Locks.

View across a canal to a large gently sloping field of short grass.  There are spindly trees on the horizon with grey clouds in the sky.
Open Field View

The mooring was pleasant with an open aspect across the canal. The tow path on this section of canal however is a grassy track at best.  The very wet weather means it is far from its best.  Many boots and cycle tyres have turned some sections in to unavoidable muddy squelches.  We managed to pick a mooring that allowed us to get to the bridge over the nearby road without getting too muddy.

Towpath alongside a narrowboat.  There is a narrow strip of grass right along the edge of the canal.  Large parts of the path are a mud bath with tyre tracks running through.
Uninviting Tow Path Walk

A walk to local shops got us a few essentials, and we managed to get back inside before the next shower.  This morning we set off under dark skies.  There was nobody else around as we worked through the Hillmorton Locks.  Previous visits to these locks have been especially enjoyable because the paired locks lend themselves to helping other boats through.

A narrowboat entering a lock. We are looking along  the arm of the open top gate.  Resting on the end of the arm is a windlass. The driver is leaning out to see where she is going.
Clare Driving Bartimaeus in to Hillmorton Top Lock

We carried on a few more miles in to Rugby and moored up with batteries back at 100%. Our gentle canal cruising life has started again.