We arrived in Macclesfield –the town doesn’t show a very pleasant aspect from the canal unfortunately – and stopped with some drama to get water at the CRT site on the off-side (non towpath side) in front of two CRT workboats breasted up and behind two small boats tied up to a jetty at the Macclesfield Canal Centre boatyard. Parallel parking a 62 ft narrowboat is not easy at times, and is always worse with an audience! We filled with water and contemplated getting diesel at the boatyard. A chat with one of the audience on the boat I’d had to avoid (thankfully I did as his boat looks like it’s steel but is fibreglass – I think he did extremely well to remain seated in a calm-looking position while I was floundering with 17 tonnes of steel close by) identified that the boatyard closed at 4pm on a Sunday, so the man went off to ask the owner if he’d serve us even though it was coming up to 4pm then. Yes, was the reply, and please reverse in. (Have you seen the myriad of boats moored up at all angles leaving about a boat and a half’s width to get through backwards with no steering? AAARRRGGGHHH!!! It was accomplished successfully though to my surprise. We filled with diesel, checked out the location of a park for rugby ball kicking, and the rain came pounding down just as we were untying. A quick check and we could moor on the boatyard’s visitor mooring. Yay! That meant only getting slightly wetter than a drowned rat.
Later the sun came out and we contemplated moving on, but only for about 10 seconds. David and Olek set off to the park with the rugby ball for a couple of hours and I made dinner and blobbed, I think – can’t remember back that far.
We had arranged that on Monday morning Kev (boatyard owner) would fit the front button and replace our back button which was exceedingly scruffy and sort out the airhorn which peeped rather than paaaarped. While he did that David and Olek set off to the Leisure Centre for a swim. I watched Kev and a mate (Robin I think) fit the buttons – they made it look so easy with the use of the boathook for keeping control of said buttons (why didn’t we think of that!?) Kev still had to do the contortionist act, but even though he is substantially taller and bigger than David he never looked in danger of falling in somehow. The airhorn was stripped down to its component parts (a new discovery for me that the pump for it is in the same compartment as the shower and poo tank pumpout electrics in the bathroom). The pump worked fine apart from a bit of dust, the pipe was cleared of its own dust, so it was the horn that was faulty. They adjusted that progressively, and at one point a man sitting on a seat across the cut blew his nose and he made more noise than the airhorn! (Another reason Dad should still be around: Mum always said he did the Trumpet Voluntary when blowing his nose!) In the end, after a series of minute adjustments and tests, the horn worked – but it sounds like a strangled goose. It is so effective that when I tooted it a couple of days ago to get David’s attention, using our standard two toots signal, he ignored it repeatedly …
We set off on the boys’ return from the pool – disappointing swimming as only the learner pool was available, the large deep pool was full of lane swimmers – and headed onwards aiming for Marple. However we only got as far as Bollington - the engine was sounding sluggish with the alternator switched on and progress was slow. Going through bridge holes was like chugging through sludge. At one, the engine did its previous trick of running out of propulsion. Damn and blast, much gnashing of teeth and phone calls to the mothership (aka Aqua Narrowboats) ensued.
Long story short (just for a change, team!) - we turned off the alternator, chugged on slowly to Bollington, moored up and waited the arrival in the evening of Ed, the engineer from Four Counties Boat Services, recommended to us by Justin from Aqua. He arrived at 7.10pm, left at 9.10pm and only wanted to charge for 1 hour's labour! I don't think so, mate! His advice was:
- we should revert to a standard alternator in the standard (in place) mounting as the current one is too big,
- the vibrations are loosening the engine mounting bolts (3rd time they've been tightened since we've been onboard)
- the Maccie is very shallow and our draft is quite deep, so we can only go at tickover up this canal and through bridgeholes we should flick back to neutral as they are the shallowest part.
Olek and I walked up to the White Nancy memorial on a hill outside Bollington on Monday. Correction: Olek ran, bounced, jumped, skipped, walked, and I staggered and stopped often and breathed very heavily. We got there though and the effort was well worth it. The views were amazing and my photos won't do them justice. We could see Manchester in the distance and we watched planes landing and taking off at Manchester airport - well, they were so far away we couldn't see them actually landing and taking off but we could see the approaches and lift off from a few hundred feet.