Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Day Four – Water, water everywhere, but not in our heat exchanger!

Warwick (Saltisford Arm) – Leamington Spa – Bascote Staircase Locks - Stockton Bottom Lock

11 miles, 14 locks (including 1 little staircase pair)

In which the Duck and her owners learn that her engine is not infallible, get very heavily rained upon, but are glad the engine maintenance can take place in the dry of the engine room.

Today dawned grey and wet. We were in Warwick, moored quite close to the city centre, so got up at 8:30 to go into town and do a few essential chores, like going to the bank and stocking up on food at Sainsbury’s. We also picked up some second hand books for evenings like this when we have no internet and are too knackered to do anything except slob out on the sofa. Warwick seemed like a really nice town, and I mentally added it to my list of ‘places I would like to live’. The pouring rain was not the best way to enjoy it however, and we quickly went back to the boat in order to be off before noon.

The Grand Union continues through the outskirts of Warwick and then Leamington Spa – not hugely inspiring, especially in the weather we had today. Once through a few locks a mug of hot soup and some bread and butter at the stern did lift our moods. We carried on until the canal came out into proper countryside, and approached our first ascending locks. After a few, we eventually worked out a method which seemed to be efficient. We also had our first experience of lock sharing – with a hireboat first, and then some more experienced boaters.

Coming out of our second lock with NB Trafalgar, however, James noticed that the engine didn’t sound right. Lo and behold, the ‘wet’ exhaust was not wet at all but simply expelling dry exhaust fumes. This was quite a cause for concern, as normally the raw water to cool the engine through the heat exhanger is ejected out this way. So no water coming out of the exhaust meant that the engine could very quickly overheat! We moored up and set about working out what was wrong. James suggested that there was probably something in the raw water intake, as the filter was fine. So we attached a length of hose from the shower outlet in the bathroom to the filter chamber and tried running the engine to test whether there was anything wrong with the pump or the heat exchanger. They were both fine – the water was simply not being sucked in from the canal. He was all for me jumping overboard in my wetsuit to check the intake but then we had a better idea, and a quick phonecall to John, the previous owner, who knows the engine better than anyone confirmed that this was probably the way forward – we forced water out through the hose at as high a pressure as our water pump would allow us to and hoped that this would be enough to rid the intake of whatever was blocking it! A quick run of the engine confirmed that it was clear and we were set to go again. It was a bit nerve-wracking but we kept our cool and worked through it. After all they say you only really get to know your engine when it goes wrong!

The only other point of note today was our first staircase lock – a set of two (in this case – there can be many in a staircase!) where the top lock gates form the bottom gates of the lock above. They’re simple once you’ve done a few but it took a little while to get our heads around how it worked. We moved through it and then carried on through another couple to moor at the bottom of the Stockton flight, ready to attempt it first thing. We are however, internet-less here, so this will be out of date by the time it’s posted, sorry!

Thanks to everyone who’s commented so far, too!

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