Monday, 12 January 2009

The Black Stuff

Coal is a central part of most narrowboater's lives at this time of year. It really is vital that you have a good supply, so as to keep warm. It's great in the evenings (despite the broken grate needing care, else all the nice glowing coals get dumped unceremoniously into the ashpan) and it takes some care to ensure it's still going in the morning, otherwise the boat gets rather cold.

The Duck's only source of heat is the Morso Squirrel stove, and I have to put my hand on my heart here and say that we've abused it; it has burnt a variety of fuels, from housecoal (tarry) to pallet wood (hot and ashy), chipboard, paper (an incinerator for un-needed bank papers) and MDF (don't, it's REALLY not a good idea! It's got bad fumes and the glue condenses into chimney-blocking gunk...) but it works best on smokeless fuel.

At the moment, we burn CPL's Brazier, which we get for just over £10 per bag. Depending on whether we're in the boat or not, a bag will last between three days (if I'm at home all day) and a week (if we're both at work).

This isn't the cheapest way to get fuel; the best way is to order with other boaters and get a discount for buying in bulk. We missed the big orders by being poor when we first got back, and now head over to Mackay's to buy our 75 kilos (three 25kg bags) of coal for £32. The new £10 trolley from B&Q makes the trip a lot easier than it was- and a ratchet strap keeps all the bags of coal where they should be and prevents them sliding off.

We're looking at getting a bigger delivery from somewhere like Papworth Fuels; it's all under investigation.

In the meantime, it's a case of carrying on with the trolley and keeping warm!

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