Just a few days left on our trip, so we are getting ready to turn the boat back over to Alex. We are supposed to leave it with a full tank. This stretch of the canal is a bit lacking in marinas selling diesel, so I was wondering how to do that. Luckily we went past a fuel boat today – one of those roving entrepreneurs selling diesel, propane, coal, firewood, windlasses etc. to the live-aboards who never move their boat – and topped up. We can turn it over a few liters short of a full tank.
On the Kennet & Avon especially there is a fair amount of tension between the permanent live-aboards who don’t want to pay for a private mooring and don’t want to move their boats, and the Canal and River Trust, which licenses boats without home moorings to stay on the canal for ‘continuous cruising’ provided they move every couple of weeks, and go at least twenty miles in a year. I visited one of the websites promoting the live-aboards’ position and decided I don’t agree with them. They are complaining about not being able to leave their stuff on the towpath without it getting cleared away by CaRT, and not being able to send their kids to state schools where they happen to be moored. OK, the towpath is not your garage (that’s what the roof of your boat is for) and you are not paying local authority taxes to support those schools.
Greg and Karen caught the train back to Cheltenham this morning, and we headed east. It started out as a lovely day, sunny, still, and warm, but it clouded over later, and threatened thunderstorms. Luckily the rain was limited to a few short showers. Paula was doing most of the driving and I was working the locks. She was just coming out of one lock when there were unhappy clunking noises and the engine died. We tied up the boat and I managed to get the engine running in neutral but it died when I put it in gear. OK, this is either a dead transmission (very bad), or something wrapped around the prop (not nearly as bad, but still a nuisance).
I opened up the weed hatch, contorted myself into an awkward and greasy hole in the boat and found to my relief that there was a bundle of nylon round the prop shaft. Some pulling and hacking with scissors later, I removed it. Ta-Da!
The engine ran fine when the evil nylon was removed.
We stopped in Hungerford for lunch and continued to Kintbury for the night. We shared the locks after lunch with a day hire boat piloted by a woman celebrating her 21st birthday. Happily the drinking age in the UK is 18, so she was sober and doing a fine job. On to Newbury tomorrow for one last trip to the launderette. Our next boat is going to have a washer and dryer.