Tom O’the Wood to Fosse Locks. Water everywhere!

Saturday 6th March 2010

Zulu started first time this morning.  That is the good news.

The rest of the day has been very watery indeed.  I needed an early start to get through Hatton so 6:30 am it was.  Beautiful chilly morning with a lovely blue sky.

Wateryness Number 1.
By the time I got to Shrewley tunnel it was raining.  Boo!

Wateryness Number 2.
Shrewley tunnel is a bit drippy at the moment!  One went right down my neck – thank goodness for hoodies.

Wateryness Number 3.
The automatic bilge pump just went off twice in 3 minutes.  Are we sinking?  How on earth is that?!   Oh I see.  The stern gland just opened up to the world.  Nothing that a couple of spanners couldn’t sort out, along with a good dose of grease, but hey – it was dry as a bone last night so how did that happen!  At least the rain stopped and it was really nice after breakfast time.

Wateryness Number 4.
After an impromptu stop to tighten the stern gland I then jumped off at Hatton Station to pick up today’s assistant and dogs.  Ooops why is the back of the boat so low in the water?   Crikey it really is, but the engine bilges are dry as a bone….. with dread I lifted the carpet and found the cabin bilge right up to the floorboards.  Cue the wet and dry vac – for 3 hours as we went down Hatton locks I was preoccupied with removing about 150 gallons of water from the bilges and watching with relief as Zulu settled back to normal draught.  We were only down an inch or so, but that could equate to half a ton.

What caused this – yes our old friend the domestic water system had leaked the entire contents of the water tank – 150 gallons – into the bilges (again).  The good news is not sinking, but looking at the old water tank there was a lot of water under it.  I couldn’t understand why it had leaked though.  I have emptied it every time I left the boat all winter, and it was OK last week. Why!

Wateryness No 5.
There’s plenty of water at Hatton – pouring over the gates as we went down.  I wouldn’t normally have mentioned this but it gives me another watery point to log!

Wateryness No 6.
Dog number 2 fell in (for the third time in as many weeks).  At least he got out under his own steam!

Wateryness No 7.
I stopped at Cape Locks to try to fill the water tank again, and this time packed paper towels all over the place to try to find the leak.  It seemed to fill OK but towels under the tank were very wet indeed.  It kind of comfirmed worst fears that the tank really was leaking as opposed to a pipe or join.

Wateryness No 8.
Checked the water pump and it was leaking too.  Damn it.  This could be part of the cause of the leak but it didn’t look too bad.  Out with the PTFE tape and remake the joints and all seems ok again.

Wateryness No 9.
Quick thinking as we passed “Do It All” in Leamington Spa.  Get a garden water bowser as a temporary water tank.  They even had them in green to match Zulus colour scheme.  I spent another 20 quid on various bits which may or may not come in useful when fitting it.

Wateryness No 10.
Dog number 2 took fright at the wet and dry vac and jumped into his water bowl catapulting it all over the lounge carpet.  What’s another couple of pints between friends though?

Wateryness No 11.
While investigating the best way to connect new temporary water bowser to the water system, bypassing the water tank guess what.  I discovered that the water tank filling pipe was no longer attached to the water tank.  Elation!  Last night I had spent an hour filling the bilges while only a small amount of water had gone into the tank by pure luck.  So with a bit more luck I never had a water leak at all and the tank is OK.  All I need is a new jubilee clip to stick the inlet pipe back onto the tank where it belongs and we will be back to normal.

Wateryness Number 12.
Tonight I can’t be bothered to remove all the panels to get access to the water tank filler, so with a tap near our moorings I have filled the new bowser anyway.   At least I will get some use out of it then!

So apart from that its been a great day!  No really – it has!  The only regret is not stopping for a pint at the Cape, at Warwick, but something always keeps me going on without stopping till I am past Leamington Spa too.  Which is what I have done tonight, arriving at Fosse Locks where strangely and most unwelcome, Fosse Bottom Lock had a boat moored on the bottom lock landing and the top too.  Folks – when someone is single handed, which I have been since my Hatton assistant departed in preference for football over lock wheeling, they actually need to use the lock landings and it really doesn’t help when you peer out of the curtains incase I touch your paintwork or otherwise give you cause to complain.

So I think the word of the day, apart from wateryness which I think I have invented, is exhaustedness.  Which I have also just invented.  Fosse locks aren’t a good place to moor, as the main moorings are long term, but theres several spaces so here we are.  We will be gone by the time anyone wakes.

I kind of think Zulu has had her revenge during the last two days.  Everything is back to relative normality tonight.  We are warm and dry, watching tv with lovely charged batteries, and blogging away with an amazingly strong 3G signal in what is a most unexpected location.  At least something is going well today!!

Today? 12.5 miles and 26 locks.  1 tunnel.  12 waterynesses, 150 gallons of hoovering… and the rest is history.

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