Going Down Hill! 9th October

Marsden to Lock 31 via Lock 40/39

The alarm was set to make sure we were up and about in time for the arrival of our CRT Ranger this morning. Richard arrived just before 9 with his wife, sorry we didn’t get your name, she’d come for the walk up and down the locks. Today we’d start our descent from the highest pound on the network.

Leaving the highest point

Richard set the top lock, and we all had a brief chat about how to work the locks. Basically to save as much water as possible the lock below should be set to fill before the one above emptied. This is what we tend to do on a flight anyway.

Filling up with a view

Mick and I had both imagined that either Richard or I would walk ahead lifting paddles on the lower lock and opening them up. However it didn’t quite start off that way. After lifting paddles I was sent down to open the gates on the next lock. But at that lock both bottom paddles were up, the pound below looking like it needed a refill. I lifted a top paddle to aid the refill, quite a lot of water was already going round the bywash. But how long should I leave it for? I tried phoning back uphill, ‘Yep close it and fill it’.

The pound looked to be improved but was still shallow. As we dropped the next lock Kim arrived walking their dog, could I let her know of any problems down the flight when they come to it on Monday, the next pound was an obvious one!

Richard running back to let more water down

Mick brought Oleanna across the low pound, when he reached lock 40 the depth simply wasn’t enough to get Oleanna over the cill. Richard ran back to let water down and Mick put Oleanna into reverse to get her away from the cill and aid the level in the lock to rise.

Just floating back in

As Oleanna reversed there was a sudden screaming coming from the engine bay. A fan belt had gone! Mick lifted the engine board, Yep a belt had gone and taken some cabling with it. The influx of water from above was pushing Oleanna now into the lock, Richards wife and I took the centrelines and pulled her into the lock.

Both centre lines

We dropped the lock keeping an eye on her position. Mick checked below, he felt he could start the engine and run it for a short time. This next pound looked to be a better level and we managed to get Oleanna into the side, just putting spikes in was a problem but we got there in the end.

Time to investigate

Mick inspected the engine bay further. The Domestic alternator belt had gone and as it did so it had taken out quite a lot of cables. We have spare belts and in fact at the next service Mick was going to change them. A call to RCR was made to see if they could help. It took a while before they rang back suggesting it might be 3 or 4 this afternoon before someone could get to us.

Dates inside the locks

This wasn’t going to be a quick fix, so we thanked Richard and his wife for their help, he gave us his notes on the locks, so we’d know where we might have problems. Richard is normally a ranger for the Broad Canal, he very kindly offered to return should we get moving again, or maybe be able to help us tomorrow.

Off to enjoy the Jazz

Our mooring was okay for Tilly to go out and we got to hear several of the stages placed around Marsden for the Jazz Festival taking place this weekend. I dropped in to say hello on the Geraghty zoom as I couldn’t be much help in the engine bay or hunting for friends.

Ends of cables

Mick got down in the engine bay to clear the wires. Orange, Red and Green has been severed, but what did they all do? That didn’t matter really as one of the cables had managed to wrap itself around the alternator in such a way that he couldn’t get it off.

That lot shouldn’t be there!

Time for lunch, well that’s what Tilly thought as she returned on board with a friend. She and her friend were very quickly lifted back outside where she and I discovered that her friend had been playing dead, it scurried off ending up in our well deck! I hunted round for it, Tilly did too with her head down between the boat and the bank, right in the crush zone. After she was put inside I found the mouse which ended up running back the way it had come. This could mean it was either back on the bank, in the canal or in the starboard side locker, possibly having gone down the vent pipe to get cosy around the water tank. Here’s hoping it wasn’t the latter.

Ooo dear!

Kim and Yan came to see if they could help, then the chap from RCR arrived, a local mechanic from the other side of the tunnel. Mick and he descended into the engine bay. Phone calls were made, discussions had, it wasn’t sounding good.

In the end the chap couldn’t help, the alternator would need to be removed then the pulley as the cable had got itself round and under it. This needed a puller to remove it which the chap didn’t have. The good news was that we could move just our domestic batteries wouldn’t charge without the belt. The engineer suggested getting to Aspley Basin where assistance should be easier to get. Because we were able to move we wouldn’t be covered by our RCR membership. If there was a mooring available in Huddersfield we’d at least be able to plug in and charge the batteries.

On the move again

The boat was put into serious energy conservation. The freezer was turned off. Hopefully the contents, which I’d been depleting anyway, would last us a couple of days as they defrosted. All sockets were switched off, leaving just the one USB socket powered from the batteries so that we could charge our phones. Phones would only be used for essential use and the laptop would remain off unless needed for work.

We decided to move down 8 locks to get closer to Huddersfield today. There wouldn’t be enough daylight left to reach Slaithwaite but hopefully we’d be able to pull in above Lock 31.

We worked our way down the pretty flight, plenty of walkers making comments. The lock below was filling before we emptied the one above, well apart from at 33 where I wound a paddle up and was on my way back quickly, quite a long walk, to let Oleanna out of 34. When we returned 33 was still empty. Grrr! I’d found a none working hydraulic paddle and had walked tall that way three times for nothing!

Sparth Reservoir

Wild swimmers were getting ready for a dip in Sparth Reservoir above the canal, below the canal the other reservoir sat empty, the mud drying out well.

We tried pulling in near another boat but only got stuck on a submerged object almost mid channel. Onwards we continued ending up where we’d had lunch six years ago. Normally we’d not moor in a winding hole, but here the only downhill boat would be NB Idleness and they wouldn’t be coming for a couple of days, uphill boats were unlikely as there were no tunnel passages until Monday, we doubted we’d see another moving boat, if we were in anyone’s way we’d happily move.

Very picturesque

Tilly was given an hour and a half which she took once there was a big enough gap between walkers and woofers to dash to the nearby trees and friendly cover. Inside the fridge was now turned off, we’d rather survive with the water pump working and light than have chilled milk and wine!

Come on Woofers! Don’t you know the clock is ticking!

Tonight we had sticky American Chicken cooked on the hob and stove top, followed by melting Soleros from the freezer, spoons were required. Some sausages were brought out to finish defrosting for a sarnie in the morning.

Couldn’t see chilled medication go to waste

I darned a hole in one of Mick’s jumpers, he read Trevor’s book on the tunnels and we were ready for bed by 10pm, no news for us tonight. Hopefully tomorrow will be sunny to get us as close to Huddersfield as we can. Sadly Richard can’t help, he sent out messages to other volunteers, but nobody has been back in touch. So it looks like we’ll be on our own, 22 locks shouldn’t be too much of a problem, should it?

Hopefully the solar will give us enough reserves for light and water for another day.

Have to say it’s a very beautiful spot to be moored in, which we’d have missed on our original schedule.

11 locks, 1 and a bit miles, 1 trip computer switched off, 1 very helpful Richard, -1 belt, 3 cables, 1 unknown green one, 44% to 42% before bedtime, 2 top outsides, 1 lost friend, 1 hand written blog post, 8 pages, 1 jazz festival, 1 early night, 2 Mrs Tilly stamps.


2 thoughts on “Going Down Hill! 9th October

  1. Anonymous

    Brilliant post Pip, shame we know the outcome as you have us in the palm of your hand awaiting the next episode. Will they or won’t they have enough power!

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