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Boat Blog: Serendipity

Posted by indigodream on 17 March, 2013

Sunday 4th March

Ponder’s End to Limehouse

Oldies Ollie and Ranger doing "looking" - the olympic sport for retired hounds :-)

Oldies Ollie and Ranger doing “looking” – THE olympic sport for retired hounds 🙂

The human crew started to come to life from 8am – I wasn’t among them – having done the night shift, I buried my head under the duvet until the enticing smell of coffee tempted me out. Andy woke at 9am complaining wryly that “12 hours sleep wasn’t nearly enough” – he’d managed to sleep through all of the overnight commotions – including the running of the engine! So we had a slow start – the hounds, having done the essentials at 6am, weren’t particularly interested in getting up either. We weren’t in any rush – we took the time to have breakfast before tackling the turn. and heading back towards Limehouse

We had a big debate as to whether the canal was wide enough at the pub moorings to allow us to turn. I thought it would be, but experience proved otherwise; however we did manage to avoid getting inextricably wedged across the canal! We were probably only 2″ off, so Richard reversed Indigo Dream back towards the lock where the offside bank wall had partially collapsed, giving us the extra inches that we needed. On the way back to the lock we picked up a foam yoga mat that had blown off the boat roof earlier – we did have an unworthy microsecond of temptation just to leave it as it floated out of our reach in the flow, but then the thought of it getting wrapped round our prop (or anyone else’s) made us do the right thing!

It was a fine morning – for the first time in an age the blue sky dominated the white clouds. Sadly it wasn’t to last but we appreciated the warm sun while it was there.

We had a few serendipitous moments today – firstly, Greyhoundhomer was doing a “Meet ‘n Greet” at Pets at Home in Chingford. I was keen to go along, as they currently have a lot of black greyhounds in the rescue kennels and they wanted some “black beauties” along to show people what spectacular pets they make. I should explain that black greyhound can be difficult to rehome – mainly because the brindles/blues and fawns, in particular, are strikingly beautiful. When they publicised the dates, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to make it; but then I spotted that Pets at Home was within easy walking distance of the navigation – sorted!

Blue skies and the march of the pylons..

Blue skies and the march of the pylons..

We moored opposite the big waste processing plant, conveniently close to a scrubby path that led to the shops. Sarah and I took Ollie, Herbie, Eddie and Bertie along – Ty would have been far too scared and we decided that the walk was a bit much for oldies Ranger and Monty. We left Andy in the boat to coddle the scaredy wuss boys; Richard came with us – there was a convenient Halfords next to Pets at Home so he could get some stuff for tweaking our ailing batteries.

We had a great time at the “meet ‘n greet” and the hounds, apart from Herbie, were calm and great ambassadors for the breed. Herbie was beside himself with excitement – the “meet ‘n greet” had been set up right next to the live rabbit enclosure and he was surrounded by squeaky toys. Seeing his level of excitement, Sarah deftly managed to delegate his care to “co-mummy Sue”, while she handled the truly exemplary Eddie and Bertie. In the meantime, Ollie didn’t need a handler at all – he was flat out – more of a meet ‘n sleep really! We also met up with old friends Sue, Tony and Ellie and scaredy wuss boy Brennan – they’re all Indigodreamers, and their new hound Nellie, who has yet to come cruising – I hope they’ll come soon. We also met with some other Greyhoundhomer stalwarts, so it became a really sociable event. Pets at Home had generously collected over £1,200 for the charity and they collected another £200 over the weekend – that’s good going in the current economic climate. We stayed an hour but then the canal called us back…

We’d had a lovely afternoon’s cruising when we had a little period of aggravation – typically back at Tottenham locks….

The towpath flanking the reservoirs is in great condition - perfect for hounds...

The towpath flanking the reservoirs is in great condition – perfect for hounds…

When we arrived at Tottenham lock, it was set against us with the bottom gates open and annoyingly worse the paddles open. This meant a tedious amount of winding for Richard and Andy, particularly as whomever had left the lock in that state had ignored the signs asking boaters to leave the paddles down and gates closed!  We got through the lock and the ground crew got on with lowering the paddles and closing the gates behind us. In the meantime, I was struggling with a fouled prop at the lock landing. All this meant that we didn’t see a boat approaching from below the lock until it was too late – our ground crew were already clambering aboard. The woman on the upcoming boat was very cross indeed- we strongly suspect that she had left the lock open in the hope that no-one would come down before she needed it for her return trip. She let us know, in no uncertain terms, that lock gates should always be left open! In the meantime, I’d got my prop clear but in the process Indigo Dream had drifted a little way across the cut. The oncoming boater insisted on pushing on into the relatively narrow lock approach and our boats gently kissed – given the ill-tempered muttering from across the water it seemed unlikely that their skippers would do the same 🙂

Just below the lock, Richard suddenly realised that he’d left his keys at the lock – Stonebridge Lock! It might not have mattered if it had just been a BW key, but he’d left his whole bundle of house and office keys (along with a BW key) in the electronic controls. We hastily moored up and he walked back to Stonebridge, just under a mile away, keeping his fingers crossed that they would still be there (they were – hurrah!). I was quite surprised that we managed to moor in the shallow waters below Tottenham Lock, but we even found a mooring ring….

Part of the Greyhoundhomer team - Ollie's hasn't really got the meet 'n greet spirit though ;-)

Part of the Greyhoundhomer team – Ollie’s hasn’t really got the meet ‘n greet spirit though 😉

We wondered what it would be like to moor in Tottenham – even briefly – but the passersby were courteous and very interested in the greyhounds.

While we were waiting, I unwrapped Andy’s birthday cake, lit the candles and sang him a Polish song (Stolat) which seemed more appropriate for the weekend’s general jubilation than “happy birthday”. We settled down to a slice of cake, though I don’t know what possessed me to leave the remainder of the cakes on the galley worktop. Herbie first managed to reach up and grab a HUGE mouthful of the strawberry cake. At least some of that cake was salvageable. But 10 minutes later Herbie managed to snaffle the whole chocolate cake and was munching it on the floor – I managed to wrestle the mangled remains from him, but the sad left-overs were definitely unfit for human consumption! As Herbie knows, crime does pay – I packaged the mangled cake into a bag for the oldies at home – they need the calories and, before you worry, the chocolate cake won’t have enough cocoa solids to hurt them.

We had the second bit of serendipity while I was indulging in the cake wrestling match – Adam and Adrian from nb Briar Rose rang us from Stratford – we offered them a lift back to Limehouse and they walked to meet us near Old Ford Lock. It took us an age to get there – maybe it was the cake we’d eaten, but Indigo Dream had sunk into the ooze so getting off the mooring was more difficult than getting onto it. It was also slow going past the multitude of moored boats.

The Lee can be dismal in places but I like cruising here..

The Lee can be dismal in places but I like cruising here..

But eventually we spotted them, thumbing a lift from the towpath. It was so lovely to catch up with them both and discuss cruising past, present and future. We mooched along the canal with the temperature dropping as fast as the westering sun – it was almost dark when we got back to our berth in Limehouse – where had the day disappeared?!

And now, the best part of the post…….

Toilet talk:

Regular readers will know that we have a macerator toilet which pumps to a giant tank under the back deck. This arrangement works well but every now and then we get a blockage – eeeeuw! Through the late afternoon, I had noticed that there was (clean) water in the pan when  it should be dry. I assumed that someone had pressed the flush buttons in wrong order – the “before use” button puts water in the bowl – you only need this for more substantial productions (or “triple kebab specials” as Richard calls them!); the “after use” button is the flush itself. But alas, as we were getting ready to leave the boat we realised that the water in the bowl was being caused by something else. Richard had a little poke around the back but there wasn’t an obvious blockage. It was getting late and it was obvious that we wouldn’t get to the bottom (sorry!) of the toilet problems this evening. Oh dear, we MUST remember to fix it before we go cruising again in a fortnight’s time 😮

Battery talk:

The aim had been to buy a hygrometer in Halfords sadly they don’t sell hygrometers so we had to look at alternative tests. Our batteries are awkward to access but with a mirror I could see that there was an equal level of fluid in the first cell of each battery. Disconnecting the leads every battery had the same voltage to within 0.02V, one or two of the terminals were not as tight as perhaps they could have been but that was a bit arguable. So for the second time we have had a few odd things happening on our first day out but nothing obviously wrong? Can’t remember the actual voltage when we disconnected the leads (12.59V?) but I remember thinking it was about right after an hour or so charging.

Our batteries have had weeks sitting at float and getting lazy? Could there be some sort of surface charge effect going on? Before we invest in new batteries it is time to give our batteries a but more exercise and an equalisation charge? Aim was to do that today (17th March) but the w o r k thing got in the way.


4 Responses to “Boat Blog: Serendipity”

  1. Tut tut, and I thought you were a scientist! Halfords do sell a hyDrometer at £4.99. Iirc a hyGrometer measures humidity.

    Batteries AND toilets in one post – now that’s what I call a proper boat blog.


  2. s/v Eolian said

    Sorry to hear about the battery problems.

    Certainly attempting an equalizing charge won’t hurt anything, and it could help.

    Are the batteries old? Have you ever run them down flat?

    (And Neil is right!)

    s/v Eolian

  3. Simon said

    Neil must have been lucky – when I asked in Halfords they didn’t know what a Hydrometer was. I have one now, but alas unlikely to be able to pick it up from Tortoise before the weekend, if liasing becomes possible…

  4. Hi Sue
    If you have an option to equalise the batteries, do so, you’ll probably find that will sort them out. I didn’t and it cost me for a new set! Your inverter may well have a setting to do the job.

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