The plan…….to be fair we made the plan super loose, just to know i could get back when i needed to. Right now, like everything else i am in limbo. Do i need to go back or can i keep travelling instead? Can i plan for seeing family and friends or not? I think i’ve got used to living in this weird limbo during the viruses existence that i’m reminded to live via a principle a learnt a few years ago. It’s a principle that i might write further on in future but in essence its to stop over-engineering your life. Letting the universe guide you into what’s right for and what isn’t. Its been amazing watching my life morph from one thing to another and a lot of the change i firmly believe wouldn’t have happened if i hadn’t let go of what i thought it ‘should’ look like.
A boating trip i’m learning is a gentle (read sledgehammer brutal) reminder of that. This morning was meant to start with a pump out. My boat has an inbuilt poop container so i can use the loo onboard for about 3 weeks (2 of us) before needing to essentially suck it out using a machine. The 2 nearest to me weren’t in action to use before we left so we decided to head to Upton Marina to use theirs. This place is full of what us narrowboaters affectionately call ‘gin palaces’ or ‘yoghurt pots’ (they call us ‘bathtubs’!). I headed to the office to pay for a token to operate the machine, lets just say the greeting (or lack thereof) by the person on the front desk clearly showed me that i wasn’t the right person to be in a place like that. Nevermind, carry on. *although the idiot forgot to charge me for it so hey ho!
So quite simply you put the nozzle in the hole in the side of your boat and press go. While that was cracking on, we topped up the water tank using the hose to a drinking water tap. I headed off to the chandlery to see if they had a replacement air filter. After doing some investigating on the engine last night it seems the hole in the exhaust had spat soot everywhere and the air filter was mucky as hell. Richard had a genius idea to use the heat safe sealant we bought to re-seal the collar on my fire on the exhaust hole as a temporary fix until i can save up to get and fit a new exhaust.
Richard was showing me what he had done, as he went to lower the deck plates i spotted something and my heart sunk. I asked him to let the up again and pointed to the plumbing pipes and the new drip i had spotted. Luckily Richard knew how to diagnose the problem and start looking to fix it. Meanwhile i headed off the the Marina’s chandlery.
From the moment i walked in, i got the look again of being the wrong kind of person but this time it was because i was talking engine bits and i had boobs. This happens more than it should in boating world. I joined a Facebook group early on as a boat owner called ‘Women on the Cut’ as i been recommended them as a good source of no-nonsense knowledge when you need mechanical/electrical/plumbing advise rather than having to suffer the mansplaining. None in stock so i returned to Māhina empty handed. I was pleased to see Richard closing the deck plates back up with a slight smile rather than a stressed frown. Hoping for good news i asked what the verdict was. There was a strange mishaping of the pipe at the end where it seals into the fitting that leads to to the hot water tank, a quick shave off the end of the pipe and refit and seal was much better. Phew.
Finally off! Heading out of the marina back onto the river and off we went. A bit of a side-step dance as an empty working barge was gaining on us from behind so pulled to one side to let him past. A fully laden barge coming the other way. Luckily Māhina steers well so was able to pull out to let empty one past and swing into her slipstream just in time before the full one came past the other side. An easy operation of Diglis lock and then we had reached the junction.
Turning right onto the Worcester & Birmingham canal there are immediately two 18ft deep wide locks. We pulled over to go set the lock and have lock reminder lesson 101. I have done my helmsman but it was a very long time ago and have operated no locks since. All went very smoothly and not too many onlookers to get nervous by thankfully. I will definitely be getting a workout doing the locks. The paddles that release or keep the water in the chamber are hard to get going, often i’m having to get the windlass (tool to open them) in a position where i can literally lean my whole body weight onto them or pull down on them dropping my bum near to the floor! The gates need to be tugged at to get the beam away from the edge and then its a back push into the beam, pushing with your thighs off the raised brick edges so your feet don’t slide out from under you. Feeling the pink flush to my cheeks as i use muscles that haven’t had any strength training for years wake up.
Pulled over and moored once clear of those two locks for a light lunch then it was time to crack on. The biggest difference for me was how narrow the canal is. I’ve been very used to the Gloucester & Sharpness canal which is a shipping canal and super wide, these feel tiny! Winding through the 1st bit of Worcester its industrial and edgy but soon pushed out past playing fields and residential areas.
Happy i’ve got the ‘first time doing something’ nerves out the way we find a nice spot to stop overnight at the Lowesmoor Moorings, i make a jambalaya, drink wine and fall into bed achingly tired from the day.
Todays video can be found at: https://youtu.be/tn_N_KkB9kE