Thursday, 17 September 2015

Swarkestone to Mercia Marina

After having spent Monday blobbing inside while it rained intermittently outside, and running the engine to top up the batteries (no effective solar energy that day) we decided we needed to move on on Tuesday, come what may weather-wise.After all, by 6 October we need to be ensconced in Debdale, getting ready to head away and leave Waka Huia to her own devices for 7 months.

So first thing in the morning, David turned on the engine to start the top-up of the batteries as we weren’t going to be cruising for long …

It was a lovely cruise – few boats, pleasant weather (misty at first but not raining and the blue sky bits got bigger and it got warmer), and we weren’t all that close to noisy roads once we got away from the A50. 
Misty behind us looking back to Swarkestone as we left.

And sunny beside us.
This photo is for Olek who is partial to Thor and the hammer!

And as I said, it was a short cruise too – about 4 miles and 1 lock: Stenson Lock is pretty daunting – it is rather deep at 12’4”, and is far too deep for me to throw a rope (sodden from one day and two nights of rain) up to David for him to pass over a bollard. I did try, but no joy, I’m afraid. So David carefully and slowly opened the ground paddle on the side I was closest to – that immediately pushed me to the offside and I decided to stay there as I was held tightly against the lock wall and not moving around. He then slowly opened the gate paddle once I was high enough not to get the forward well deck swamped. I did find it hard to stay still as the force of the water is quite fierce and it tends to push the boat back in a rush and then heave it forward. I did use the engine to try and move back from the front gate but reverse seemed to be rather ineffective against the torrent!  But no hits, no damage and pride and face intact!

We were on a mission to get close to Mercia Marina as we had invited the lovely Mike C to dinner onboard. So we pulled up just outside the marina on free towpath, on went the chains and ropes, up went the pram cover and aerials, and off the engine did NOT go. Bugger! So up with the engine cover and down I go to use the manual engine stop. Bugger – with two days of not checking the bolt that holds the mechanism between the stop solenoid and switch, it had shaken so loose that it was floating in mid-air. I took hold of it, and bugger again!  The magnet, the squashy cover and the arm all came off in my hand.

So, down came the aerials, down came the pram cover, off came the chains and mooring ropes, and into Mercia Marina we went. Talk about déjà vu! I had phoned Justin and left a message telling him we were coming in, but when we arrived we soon saw Lyndon and called out to him. He came and turned the engine off – he was easily able to locate the actual switch, rather than worrying about the pieces that had come off in my hand.

I had What’s apped Mike who appeared with Aldi whiskey cake (which I had requested in return for dinner) and tequila-flavoured beer – what is that about? 
David is down there rescuing a plastic bag from under the engine

Mike is looking like he knows what is going on

Then it was Ian to the rescue – he fitted a new longer bolt with a nut holding the bolthead firmly in place. He’s the man!

We decided not to bother moving back out of the marina to the mooring we had peremptorily vacated as it would have involved reversing from the marina exit and under a bridge. Too stressful – better to pay £10 and have a jetty, power and water. Also it would save Mike having a long walk across the bridge to us for dinner … He has arthritis in his knees and the steps down it hurt – I didn’t know any of that at the time, mind you, so it wasn’t for his convenience that we stayed in the marina, but it makes us sound kinder, eh?

Mike was impressed with my reversing on to the jetty – I did try to tell him it was a fluke but he reckoned I should claim it as a win.

David got out of helping with dinner prep as he hid down in the engine bay – can’t remember what he was doing but clearly it was important. Ah yes, he was cleaning the underside of the stern deck to remove the greasy stuff that gets all over the back of our shirts/fleecies, etc.
Don't be fooled by that forlorn look - he was allowed out even though I did all of dinner ...

Dinner was good, if I do say so myself – not a piece of diet food anywhere apart from the carrots, runner beans and peas. Individual pans of toad in the hole, with mash and home made brown onion gravy (and the veg to keep some semblance of healthy eating) followed by home made chocolate pots with salted caramel sauce, stewed nectarines (fruit!! healthy) and whipped cream.

I am not sure that the conversation set the world to rights but it was a fun night. As I had cooked 6 chocolate pots and as David and I are concerned for our health, we gave the spare three to Mike – one each for him, Ian and Ian’s wife Lisa. I dolloped the remaining salted caramel sauce on as well but kept the left over nectarines for our brekkie. In the morning we took the last tequila flavoured beer back to Mike along with the remaining cream – after all, chocolate pots need cream, don’t they?

We did a bit of a spend up at Midland Chandlers before leaving – blacking paint for the rubbing strake up to the gunwales, more Fertan, a few oil filters, an air filter, 3x5 litres of engine oil. And we looked at new stoves - only looked. We are going to find a serial number and call the chandlers to see if they can find replacement parts for the struts that have been bent out of shape by David standing on the open door last year. If not, we will consider whether/when to get a new stove. Freaky Friday sounds like a good time …

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