Friday, 27 June 2014

And the hassles continue ...

On arriving back on Sunday afternoon we decided to clean out the water tank – we’d noticed that when the water got low, it came out brown and smelly – not good. So we bought some purifier stuff from the chandlers, and stuck it in, filled the tank to the brim, left it for a few hours and then ran taps (sink, basin, bath) to empty the tank and refilled it, left it overnight, and then emptied it again on Monday. The shower bilge pump didn’t like that and decided to throw a hissy fit and sulk. We then saw that the cabin bilge at the back of the boat had about 4cm of water in it. GGGRRR!!! A neighbouring boater who helped us move in the wind (a roaring gale of course – worse than any wind in Wellington …) over to an Aqua Narrowboats jetty ready for Tuesday’s work, looked at the pump and identified the float switch had given up. We could also see that the pump looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in several decades. Some of the gunge may have been from the tank clean out, but the stuff that was stuck to the bottom of the pump box had been there for more than 5 minutes …

On Tuesday, Ian from Aqua Narrowboats did an engine service, lagged the exhaust which would not have passed BSSC (not mentioned in the survey), replaced our shower bilge pump with a Whale Gulper – no filter, just takes everything and pushes it out. I’m not sure why a filter is attached to shower bilge pumps for narrowboats discharging into the cut – most of what was in the filter this time was hair (long therefore not from either David or me), soap scum and sand/grit, the latter came from beside the cut anyway and we all shed hair all day like there is an infinite supply (for some of us there is, and for others not).

The seat waiting for cushions on and behind
He also cut away a redundant piece of metal in the stern area that prevented the seat being used. We have to paint it, fit a piece of wood in the end of the square ‘tube’ and get a long cushion or several cushions to make the back comfortable. We will have to refit the slot for the tonneau cover and extend one of the frames for it, but that can be done later. The seat will be good for guests, and will make an ideal place for Karol to stand when he is on board – from there he will be able to see everything and be safely contained.

On Wednesday we were expecting just to have the fuel filters fitted and then a pump out, water fill and then be off on our way. But it was not to be!

The primed and painted exposed steel
Ian had rung the previous owner who told him that there had always been an issue with the alternator causing the engine to sigh and go into a slough of despond. Ian and Lyndon were not convinced it should act in that way, so after fitting the fuel filters, they checked the fuel pumps (one on each cylinder) and discovered that one of the pumps was not doing its job. So if the alternator has always had that effect, then that fuel pump probably hasn’t been working for ages, and the engine has been operating on 3 cylinders. No wonder the alternator has such a drastic effect!

Today the fuel pump is due to be delivered and hopefully fitted, so we will see what effect that has. Fingers, toes, eyes crossed.

So yesterday to fill in the time we pumped out, I undercoated the metal I primed on Wednesday, and made one of the two curtains on my new sewing machine (it’s a Brother from Argos, and so light! My Bernina at home which I have had since I was about 19 weighs a ton – still works wonderfully but could double as a set of weights). And because we’ve had a noticeable list to starboard, such that no unprotected egg could be left on the bench and any water split always ran across the floor rather than pooling, I’ve also put some concrete blocks along the port side of the boat as ballast – in the kitchen cupboard, the bathroom cupboard, on the bottom shelf in our bedroom and in the port forward locker. Justin from Aqua Narrowboats kindly donated them to us as they

The finished curtain and my new sewing machine
do not use them as bilge ballast because concrete absorbs the water. As we’ve put them on the floor their water retention property is not a problem. It is strange now not to walk the length of the boat with a lean ;-)

David was re-crowned King of Procrastination (a very bad KOP) yesterday (it is a recurring title, and one he wins every year). He had planned to do my tax return, and he was very clear it was the only thing he was going to do. So after the pumpout (an agreed priority task) he had a pee, sorted out the ropes on the roof,  fiddled with the TV aerial, put some more ballast blocks behind the sofa, filled the water tank, rearranged the hoses on the roof, made lunch, ate lunch, peed again, cleaned his teeth, offered to do the dishes, checked things on the internet, checked the email, and finally finally finally got on to the tax return. Even then, he made several forays into distraction activity – how should we remedy the leaking shower curtain? when shall we sort out which station friends should travel to to meet up with us?, how long will it take us to get to Stalybridge? can I have hot chocolate? In order to keep him focused on completing the returns and lodging them online with NZ IRD I have employed Lysistrata’s tactics – look it up, as I am too shy to say what it entails.

David making brekkie this morning
Today it is a month since we arrived on the boat, and we have cruised a total of about 40 miles – not what we expected at all! However we have become a lot more sanguine about the boat hassles and, mostly, we are taking it in our stride. Part of that, I think, is knowing that we are in good hands here with Aqua.

The lovely fruit salad
Onwards and upwards today – it has rained overnight so I may not be able to get the topcoat on the metal, but I will probably sew the second curtain. I need to find a way to hang them, so they can be taken off easily when no guests are on board. There doesn’t appear to be much solid wood to fix fittings to, so I’m thinking about drilling a hole (using my new battery drill – yay!) in a block of wood that I will glue and screw to the wall. One end of the curtain rod can go into that and I need to find a bracket that the other end of the rod can rest in and be lifted out of easily. The chandlers here don’t have them unfortunately. It may require a bus trip into Derby or Burton. 

Please excuse the weird spacing  on the post today - I seemed to have had a bit of trouble positioning photos in amongst the text and keeping the text together. My apologies - I would spend time sorting it (not!) but David is waiting to complete the tax returns. He is in a hurry for some reason ...

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