Monday, 11 August 2008

Day Eight- Rain stops play

Cropredy- Banbury

Oxford Canal

5 miles, 3 locks

In which the Duck and her crew run aground, get utterly soaked, shop in Banbury and try out the stove.

Rather a short day’s boating, considering the awful weather! After getting up at eight when Bones and Maffi stirred from their slumbers, we put away the bed, enjoyed bacon sandwiches for breakfast, and said goodbye to everyone before leaving at midday or so. We also looked at the car boot for tools and other useful items, and came away with a nice handaxe for £7, for chopping up wood for the fire.

Unfortunately the weather had chosen to be uncooperative, and it was bucketing down with rain. At a tickover past all the moored boats, we ended up firmly aground from having to avoid an oncoming boat; a few minutes work with the pole, rocking the boat to break the suction of the mud, and working the engine astern, we freed ourselves. Thanks, Canal Boat magazine, for the useful article on what to do if- no, when!- you run aground!

Lock working was fun in the rain, and so we were relieved when we reached Banbury at about 2:30. We’d heard that there were moorings right in the centre of the town itself, but we decided to sneak into a space slightly to the north and about five minutes walk away, as we didn’t know what space was available further down.

Utterly soaked, we decided that it was a good time to try out the Morso Squirrel stove, so off went the carrier-bag-and-electrical-tape turban that had stopped rain getting in the top, on went the chimney, and in went some chopped slivers of a log. Soon a roaring blaze was had and we dried out nicely, before heading into town itself at about half four.

We had a few things to buy; not supplies, just household items. We spent the last £20 Argos voucher on a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm set- essentials, really, that if anything we should have got earlier!- and got a filing box from WH Smiths to organise all the boat paperwork, and keep it tidily packed away, rather than in a box by the front door. We also got a mop, some screw-in hooks for curtain tie-backs, and a few other useful items.

On the way back to the boat- it was still raining and cold- we espied a pallet in a skip, and so I carried it back to the boat, where I set upon it with handaxe, hammer, and saw to make it into useable lengths. Again, a roaring blaze was soon going, and it dried out all the wet clothes very successfully; if anything, it was too good, bringing the saloon up to a too-hot temperature. I did however play around with the various vents on the front of the stove, and experimented with controlling the fire. Unfortunately, having not cleaned the chimney, some soot inside it caught fire, resulting in alarming flames coming out of the top. Nothing we couldn’t handle, though; we poured water on the roof and around the chimney collar to keep them cool, let the fire inside die down a bit, and let the chimney fire burn itself out. We definitely need to clean the chimney before we have any more fires!

Having only run the engine for a few hours, the batteries weren’t fully charged, and so the power began to run low towards the end of the evening. Switching the fridge off overnight, and using the 12v lights rather than the 240v lights from the inverter, helped to eke out the batteries and saw us through until bedtime.

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