Year End

When several things at once went wrong while we were in Aylesbury I began to doubt the sense in setting an ambitious plan to entertain Bryn.  In the event, he enjoyed his visit and the additional time spent driving and especially locking were the bonus they were intended to be.

The programme was severely modified by the need to get enough charge in to the batteries to keep us warm in the evenings.  Stopping at Gayton Marina worked very well for getting the cabin temperature up, and fully charging the batteries.  It seemed slightly perverse the next morning to set off on electric drive.  We did the first five miles that way which got us to Boating Leisure Services in Nether Heyford.  This was the boat yard that had promised to fix the  Eberspächer heating unit.

True to their word, an engineer was quickly in to the engine bay and unplugging the connections to release the unit.  This was one of the reasons I had wanted to drive electric until then.  The engineer has to lie on top of the diesel engine to gain access.  If we had been running the engine, it would have been too hot to do the job for a while.

Eberspächer unit on deck.  A hand is placing a diesel heater on deck.  The unit is about the size of a shoebox and made of metal and plastic.  We can see through the doors that the engine bay cover is open.  The hand belongs to the engineer who has detached the unit from within the engine bay.
Faulty Eberspächer Unit Removed for Servicing

The fault reported is with the fan that draws in the combustion air supply.  The boat yard didn’t have one of those in stock, so it will be some days before the unit can be serviced.  As soon as it is ready, they will arrange to come to the boat and re-install it.

I also had a chat about some other works that are needed on the boat.  For example, in the picture above, the heater has been placed on the weed hatch cover.  The seized and broken-off hinge means that the cover no longer shuts properly.  I was pleased that they were receptive to doing all the jobs I mentioned and expected to be able to fit us in during the early part of next year while we are still in the area.

With that business complete, we had a bit of a rush to get the next set of locks done the same day.  We lucked out by finding the enthusiastic crew of another boat to work with.  Bryn’s last full day was quite eventful.  I had spotted that Long Buckby station was only about a mile from our mooring.  However I also realised that the walk along the road to it was not very pleasant, a cycle ride would be much better.

Bryn makes an excellent stoker, so taking him to the station was a pleasure.  When we were nearly there we spotted a sign saying “Danger Factory Entrance Ahead” – we wondered who thought it was a good idea to build a Danger Factory.  Back on the boat Clare and I set off through the Braunston Tunnel and Braunston Locks.  We stopped for lunch in Braunston before the last five miles in the pleasant afternoon sunshine to Barby Moorings.

We arrived with a respectable amount of daylight left and went in to the marina.  We got an initially frosty reception because I hadn’t phoned ahead to say we were arriving, but very soon were given a suitable temporary berth and the all-important electric hook-up.  There was a minor problem with the electric though, we are only allowed to draw up to 1KW because they have an off-grid system.  Fortunately it is simple to instruct the electronics on the boat to limit the current draw.

Last night I could see that instead of the batteries charging up as I’d hoped, they were being used to provide power for heating.  I was a little anxious when we went to bed with the batteries lower than they had been on the nights when we have had no shore power.  The difference, of course, was that during the night the charging kicked in again.  The batteries were fully charged again by lunchtime.

After a week of being concerned about logistics, it has been pleasant to have a spare day to prepare the boat for being left for a few months.  We managed a walk in to the village for an enjoyable pub lunch.  In the afternoon I reversed across the marina to get the diesel tank filled and the waste tank emptied.

I’ve been much more relaxed about running the heating tonight.  The batteries will be mostly replenished by morning, and will certainly be fine once we stop demanding heat from them.  Tomorrow we leave Bartimaeus behind until next year.

Narrowboat moored in a marina.
Bartimaeus at Temporary Mooring at Barby
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