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The name describes my demeanour and voice! I love narrowboating and that is why this blog is mainly about the boat and our interaction with it. I have been keeping a log for Sonflower ever since we bought her and moved onto her as our main residence. Some incidents in our boating life have been hilarious, some scary and some down right dangerous. I cannot tell what will come in the future but you can now share them! The crew are an 'ordinary' couple. The Best Mate and I.

Friday, 17 August 2007

There (but not back again) yet

On Monday morning (13th August) we started to go to Oxford. First I thought I ought to get diesel and pay an overdue account at Sovereign Wharf. Unfortunately, at opening time there was already a boat on the wharf mooring and a sign showing they were out of diesel. They had been bled dry by boats heading for Cropredy Festival the previous Thursday. Ray, the proprietor, assured us that the delivery was requested for 'as near ten as possible' and that for the previous delivery the tanker had been waiting at the gate when he had arrived. Not today. A boat called Patience came along. Seeing there was no diesel and being told it would be here soon didn't satisfy the skipper. Patience couldn't wait. The boat on the wharf took on water and then also decided to leave so we tied up and paid our outstanding bill, which was for reconditioning injectors.

The proprietor here used to run a hire fleet and is very useful for technical advice. I asked him why my gearbox might not like engaging forward drive but was fine going into reverse. The answer was simply that the forward motion gets more wear and that it was a sign that the gearbox was in need of an overhaul. This inquiry however brought to light the information that he had a reconditioned gearbox ready on the shelf if I needed it.

I dipped the fuel tanks and decided that we too would get under way, went up to turn and hoped that the diesel would arrive before we passed on the way back from the winding hole. No such luck, so we started a long day boating south toward Oxford. There were queues at every lock. The wind caught us and a hire boat out at a lift bridge just before Somerton Deep Lock and we moored at Lower Heyford, near the station, in time for dinner and for me to catch the 2105 train back to collect the car. All the way there, the drive reminded me that the gearbox was on its way out.

I rang Sovereign Wharf and reserved the reconditioned gearbox.
The next day I went to Thrupp to try to make contact with a marine engineer. Mark Paris had done a Boat Safety Certificate examination for me and I was impressed by his thoroughness. He agreed to fit the gearbox and the injectors for me sometime next week if I could get the boat to Thrupp.

Returning to the boat I found that the mooring we were on was 48 hours. I was loath to move on with the dodgy gearbox especially as the southerly voyage to Thrupp involves a stretch of the River Cherwell and the weather promised more heavy rain. In fact it delivered it that night along with strong winds and about three inches of rain water appeared in my bucket on the back of the boat.

I spoke to the mooring warden's husband who passed her a message about my predicament and she agreed that I could stay until Friday morning. That arranged, I now put the car at Thrupp, returning to Heyford by bus. All set for another changeover.

Friday morning was a wonderful cruising morning and we made our passage easily to Thrupp. On exiting the Cherwell reach, another boater pointed out the indicator was on RED. We should not have made it at all. I am sure that the indicator at the other end was on ORANGE but I will never be sure. I left Bakers Lock because several other boaters had come in, making the more difficult passage against the stream! I hadn't even looked at the gauge!

At Thrupp we were confronted by a distinct lack of 14 day moorings and a mooring warden trying to keep the wide clear for a film crew that were expected later. He told us to turn and moor abreast of Helene of Troy, which we did. I wait for him to call later to find out what is going on!

The car was in the right place and we returned to base ready to collect the gearbox on Monday morning.

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