Well it wouldn’t be a journey without some drama now would it. As has been the same for all my backpacking and travelling experience, the road is never straight, expect bends and curveballs!
I have been nursing a bit of an issue with my gearbox for a while. Lots of diagnostics and trial and error repair attempts have been made. However, it has been getting worse and the last few hundred metres pulling into Hack Green she dumped the gear oil again. We decided we should call the folks at RCR. River & Canal rescue is a bit like RAC for boating and allegedly I had cover with my insurance.
Spoke to their office and they had an engineer call me within 20 minutes. Richard had a great chat with him and he said he’d call the office back to get us booked in for an engineer to come out. I finished the call feeling very positive about the service. Wednesday came and went, it was a wet, miserable day and a planned day off moving but it was in the back of my mind that I had not yet had a call back.
Thursday came, by about 11am I started to feel like something was wrong so I called in to the office again. They had no notes of my previous request and said previous engineer was on days off. Cue an eyeball roll and a loud exhalation from me as I started from the beginning again. The office promised me a call back to discuss next steps. Nearly an hour later another engineer called and we repeated what the problem was and what the fix was but we lacked the parts and the tools to do the job. He advised me that it would be likely that the gearbox would need to be taken off and away to their workshop and returned, serviced, within about 3 days but that it would be wise for me to get to somewhere with more amenities etc as once they took the gearbox away, I would have no means of keeping the batteries topped up and therefore would lose power.
We had passed a marina not far back so with the promise of a call in another hour, we set off down two locks to turn around where the canal was wide enough to come back up to go to the marina. On the second lock down, where Richard was visible in the dedicated turning area (called a winding hole), a guy came along and tried to turn the lock in his favour. I’m ashamed to say I was in full PMT, worried about money, angst mode and let myself get into a full on shouting match with the bloke. It is not boater etiquette to turn a lock with a boat coming and especially when the other crew person (me) was there waiting. I stood my ground and let him grumble and call me some pretty horrible things. I suggested that if he was in so much of a hurry he should have either a) left earlier or b) should reconsider boating as a hobby as I won’t be rushed by anybody.
Having made it back up the locks, we called ahead and booked ourselves in for a few nights at Overwater Marina. Again we were waiting for the office to call back to say if this visit was happening this afternoon or tomorrow morning. I had a niggling doubt in my head as during this whole debacle so far, no-one had mentioned money. I rang my insurers to check what is actually covered by them in regards to what the RCR do, I then rang RCR to confirm all this and there was a big worrying gaping hole in my cover. Essentially, I can call them out, away or on my home mooring and I get 2 hours of their time. If they can’t fix it during that time I pay for what happens next including parts etc. Arrrgghhhhh, this was likely to rack up into the hundreds.
Richard’s conversation with the engineer had revealed an alternate way to release the stuck dipstick so that we at least could change the seal and top up with more gear oil. We decided to do that and call off RCR. Their loosing of my call had already wasted 2 days and with an expected further 3-4 out of action we didn’t want to be out of action for that long and they STILL hadn’t called back to advise on the engineer coming by the time I called them to cancel on the Friday morning. By fixing this bit, we can call ahead to chandleries along the way for the parts we need and then fit them ourselves during the trip. You live to learn hey so we bode farewell to the very friendly people at the marina and pushed off the mooring Friday morning with all fingers crossed that Māhina would behave.
All was not totally lost though, as by coming back to the marina we happened to pass this little chap on the way and although not great, I did manage to to capture these: