Monday, 22 August 2011

Up the pole at the 'Hop Pole', Retford

We are stationary again for a little while in the warm sunshine. One could even say we are marooned since we don’t have an engine that works. On the way down from Shireoaks, though the engine beat and performance was as good as ever, I noticed that ‘JP2’s exhaust was very wet and soon it was obvious that either unburnt diesel or even lube oil was being pushed out on the exhaust stroke.
At Shireoaks my good friend Peter joined me for the trip down to Retford and it was a very enjoyable run apart from the anxiety exuding from the funnel. I was sad to leave the marina that had been the happy home of ‘Futurest’ and I for a fortnight or so and was especially wretched to be leaving my co-workers on the ‘New Dawn’ Project. During my stay there I had made some very good friends. I tethered in the entrance while I made my fond farewells, gave David my communication details and promised to keep in touch with their progress via Christine.

Sunset at Shireoaks Marina

The Sun shone boldly as Peter, ‘Futurest’ and I wended our happy way eastwards through the small picturesque single locks towards the ex mining town of Worksop and on towards Retford.
I noticed there was less green silken weed this time and the going was much easier as a result. I only had to visit the weed box once to clear the propeller and we made good time, arriving at the Town Lock, Worksop for lunch.
While I made some sandwiches Peter hopped over the wall to the adjacent ‘Canal Tavern’ for a couple of pints of bitter. We were able to relax over a good lunch and enjoy our pints.

Lunchtime in Worksop

It was when we left Town Lock that I noticed the wet exhaust but as I have already mentioned the engine beat was as perfect as always and we hadn’t lost any power, so it seemed right to carry on.
We tied up at the visitor moorings near to the Forest Lock toilet and shower facilities and spent a very quiet pleasant night surrounded by deep green forest.
In the morning as soon as we were under way I optimistically thought that the exhaust was back to normal but the black liquid carbon soon began to show again covering everything, including Peter and I, with a greasy black coating. When we arrived at Retford our faces looked as if we had competed in a nineteen fifties Grand prix at Silverstone.
But we made it safely and since Peter knew the licensee of the ‘Hop Pole’ he arranged for us to moor at the pub mooring for a few days, while I was able to sort the engine problem out

Peter at the Helm

It’s a very good and remarkably quiet mooring here with 240 volt hook up positions and a fresh water point is also available. Toilets can be used inside the pub. The food is delicious and the surroundings, which have all just been refurbished, are relaxing and luxurious. There is also extensive comfortable seating at tables beneath large umbrellas outside. They also host outdoor events and last Thursday near the large car park a marquee was erected for a wedding reception on Saturday evening. Though there were lots of people around accompanied by loud music from inside the tent, I was completely unbothered and slept very soundly through the night.
We arrived on Tuesday last and straightaway I phoned my old friend John in Staffordshire. John is a ‘JP2’ wizard and made no objection to coming all the way from his home to help me out on the Thursday. I am so glad I knew him as there are no boatyard or engineering facilities available anywhere on the Chesterfield Canal. The situation could have been quite bleak for us had John not been able to come.

The ‘Straddle Warehouse’ at Worksop

He was here at 8 am on Thursday bless him, and it didn’t take him long to check that the timing and the fuel injectors were all okay. But he ominously noticed that there were shards of white metal on the oil filter and on removing the crankcase cover it was soon evident that there was a lot of play on the forward big end. On dismantling it we found that the bearings were badly scored and would need renewing for a start.
By lunchtime he had put the cover back on and soon he was on his way home to try to find replacement bearings, assuring me that he would report as soon as he had any news. This morning he has phoned me to say that he cannot source them anywhere but in the meantime we have decided to somehow get back to the Shropshire Union Canal, near his home, where he has excellent boatyard facilities to make further investigations. We are in the process of making towing arrangements at the moment.
My friend Janis is bringing her boat ‘Roots and Wings’ from Newark onto the Chesterfield and as a matter of fact I’m off to Newark tomorrow to come down with her. Bless her, she has offered to tow me through the tidal section of the Trent up to Newark on her way back. There I can wait in the marina for the next towing phase, which should be easier without the tidal factor. John says he has friends coming from the Chesterfield all the way to the ‘Shroppie’ shortly so things seem to be turning out okay for poor ‘Futurest’ and I. What could have been a very bleak and serious situation has turned out to be much less of a challenge already.
Luckily I have all the time in the world at my disposal and this therefore is no constraint whatsoever. I seem to be very blessed with everything.

No comments: