Friday, 25th May 2007: Stranded at Crick!
The above picture shows the relatively peaceful setting of our mooring when we arrived at Crick on Sunday, 13th May 2007 - subsequently the area became a continuous line of boats stretching for more than a mile all attending the 2007 Crick Boat Show - then after the show was over and we were on our own again!
We had left our mooring at Cropredy on Thursday, 10th May - the first part of the journey was pleasant enough but the 13th was a bad day for us! First of all we ran out of diesel in the gravity feed 'day tank' just as we were about to turn onto the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union Canal at Norton Junction - having lost power we were unable to negotiate the turn or stop and collided with a BW work boat tied up just past the junction; second, when Graham went down to the engine room to pump up more diesel, he found fuel all over the engine room floor from what he thought was a failed high pressure fuel injection pipe to the middle cylinder - a temporary fix was rigged up to catch and contain the leaking fuel (empty baked bean tins!) so that we could complete the journey to Crick on two cylinders; then, as we ascended Watford Locks, we managed to get the tip of the rudder caught between the bottom gates on the top lock (we had removed the stern fenders so that we could re-paint the back deck and counter!) so having carefully negotiated our way through 30 locks since leaving Cropredy without any problems we now had big trouble - the paddles were closed quickly but the water and 'Alnwick' had started to rise before the rudder became stuck so it was necessary to let water out of the lock in order to free it - in so doing the rudder assembly was lifted out of the cup on the skeg and then dropped beside the skeg and would not move - by now it was raining hard so we bow hauled the boat to the shelter of the motorway bridge to await help - help came in the form of Graham's brother, Martyn, who drove over from North Kilworth with a large crow-bar and some blocks of hardwood packing - Martyn works in horticulture and is extremely strong so it took just a matter of minutes for him to lift the rudder back into position - so after being held up for about an hour we were on our way again with the engine still leaking fuel and running on two cylinders - during the struggle to re-position the rudder Graham had accidentally trodden on his reading glasses - so he was now cold, wet and very unhappy! Nevertheless we are extremely indebted to Martyn - thank goodness for the convenience of mobile phones!
After arriving at Crick (soaking wet) we tied up and spent the next few days sourcing and fitting a new fuel injection pipe but when the engine was subsequently tested, we still had a slight fuel leak - it was then that we realised that fuel was also leaking from the top of the fuel injection pump! Subsequent investigation revealed that the leak was coming from a very badly damaged thread in the alloy pump body itself - our only remedy was to remove the pump and deliver it to a local specialist so that he could arrange with a local engineering shop to bore out the damaged thread and fit a threaded insert - this is the most practical solution because, as we discovered last year, these three cylinder C.A.V. pumps, are extremely scarce and very expensive.
So we are now moored at Crick! Despite our difficulties and what we hope will only be a temporary absence of motive power, we intend to thoroughly enjoy the annual Crick Boat Show which takes place over the Bank Holiday weekend between the 26th and 28th May. Afterwards we had hoped to complete return to Cropredy and spend some time smartening up the paintwork before heading down to Saul in Gloucestershire for the Canal Festival at the end of June but it now looks as if we shall have to wait at Crick until the fuel pump has been repaired - so 'Alnwick' will arrive at Saul in its present rather 'well weathered ' state - that is if we can make it at all!
The famous Railway Cat (Retired), 'GC', is never happy when invited to travel in a car - he can cope with trains and boats but is, clearly, very dubious about the safety of road vehicles. Whenever we need to take him back to the house or from the house to the boat he goes off and hides - then when we find him and place him in the car, he protests vociferously until we reach our destination - he seems happier if we drive at less than 25 mph but that is not always practical. The photograph below shows 'GC' the cat trying to hide in the engine room of 'Alnwick' with the obvious look of fear in his eyes after observing bags being packed in readiness for a temporary migration to the house! That is why we felt that we could not take him with us when we went travelling during the run up to Easter in our ancient 1967 MGB GT - there is a separate report about our visit to the Welsh Highland Railway in North Wales which can be viewed by following this link.
The final picture shows one of the small sign boards that Graham made to mark our mooring at Cropredy.
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© Graham & Jane Oliver 2007