Early winter at Kate Boats
When I awoke this morning I was most surprised as I gazed out of my port hole, to find a thin layer of snow covering everything. I was shocked even more, as I peered sleepily through the lace doyley that covered the glass, that there was quite a thick coating of snow across the ice itself. Where yesterday there had been only a very thin layer of ice, today it looked ominously dense, especially as it was so early in the winter. It was thick enough anyway to support the weight of the excited moorhens and mallards that were prancing most unconcernedly across the surface getting on with their business. But nothing stirred on the virgin covered land. Because of the white mantle, Man was not yet brave enough to carry on his life normally and as is usual in these conditions, probably never would.
So I’m glad I was allowed to begin my winter mooring at Kate Boats last Friday, instead of having to wait until 1st December, as was the original arrangement. Otherwise, moored temporarily as I was, alongside the towpath, though it was only one hundred yards away, it might have proved difficult to get here without hacking my way through the ice, which is the one thing I was determined not to do this winter. In my ignorance last year I tried it and ripped all the blacking off ‘Futurest’s side by pretending to be an ice breaker. I learned an expensive lesson, since I had to have her re-blacked by Tooley’s in Banbury when I arrived there, barely five months after having it done when she was originally repainted at Great Haywood.
But I am here now safely ‘behind bars’ (yard gates) with all the necessary facilities I could possibly need for the winter, no matter how hard it is. Being a continual cruiser up until now, I had never experienced the sheer luxury of having mains power aboard so I’m particularly chuffed with the 240 volt hook up from ashore, especially as I made up the electric extension cable myself. It is forty metres long, to enable me to get power from any distance if necessary. It’s a strange feeling though not having to start ‘JP2’ every day to charge up the batteries.
Which is currently just as well, since she has decided, for reasons that she is not yet disclosing, to take a well earned rest and last Friday refused, quite determinedly not to start? Though I swung her starting handle lovingly but vigorously many times, and normally only once is necessary, the best she would do for me was to chug rather tiredly for about four revolutions, before clicking to an ignominious stop.... I’m sure I heard a deep sigh too!
By checking that I hadn’t missed any vital thing out of my normal starting routine and by now I had done it so many times that I certainly shouldn’t have done, I came to the end of my full engineering knowledge and decided to call Matt from Tooleys for further advice. He knew her quite well as he had done a service on her about a month ago. Bless him, realising how urgent it was needed for battery health, he came out straightaway and quickly decided that the two fuel injectors had to be overhauled and would need to be sent away for a week. So I gained permission to take ‘Futurest’ into Kate Boats that afternoon, so that I would be able to use the shore side 240 volts for power and very willingly Matt helped me to haul her the short distance down the towpath and then launch her for the opposite side of the canal, where I would moor.
He returned yesterday with the refurbished injectors, refitted them and enticed the fuel through to them. But in spite of renewed vigorous handle activity many times from Matt and myself and accompanied by much stertorous breathing in my case, the little beggar still refused to do anything more for us but a single rather churlish and cheeky - chug!
So the saga goes on with Matt saying he will return next week with advice from higher authority.