Join me as I take Olivia on her latest adventures.
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Monday, 14 August 2017
Highs and Lows: the Pontcysyllte and oil leaks
I was back on board at the start of July and thought I had better do something about the oil leak that had been showing itself for a few weeks but was gradually getting worse. I asked a boatyard if they could have a look and having looked they ordered a pair of side cover gaskets. The gaskets arrived after a couple of days but more days passed and he claimed he was too busy to do the job (Ahem, he had accepted the job!). After five days I asked him if he could give me a time when he would do the job, as I was a long way from any shops and was also running short of water. Anyway he threw all his toys out of the pram, started stomping about saying "I'll do it now", stomp stomp stomp. He didn't talk to me at all and didn't even bother to run the engine to check his job. I paid up and moved on, only to find that the leak was worse than before!! I called at the next marina, much friendlier guys who had a look and we spotted that the first guy had trapped the gaskets under the covers. These guys ordered new gaskets and fitted them within two days and off I went again. Now the leak was much better but the bolts holding the covers were still leaking, two black tears rolling down from the bolts. Anyway I got chatting to another boater (they can't resist poking their heads into an open engine compartment) and he suggested PTFE tape on the bolts and, hey, it has worked.
I cruised up to Chester with an uneventful but rather nice couple of days journey. Lots of nice places to walk including a walk up to and around Beeston Castle. I like Chester with its city walls, museum and cathedral. I was hoping to go to a performance of Midsummer Nights Dream in the park but, unfortunately, it was sold out. I went a little further and visited the boat museum at Ellesmere Port. I wasn't expecting to be there very long but it actually kept me amused for three hours. Lots of information about historic boats and the previous life of the dockyard. I started back down from Chester and moored not far from the Ice Cream farm which is a theme park for little ones but it also sells 50 flavours of very delicious icecream.
On the return journey there was one lock, well known to boaters, where I struggled single handing and in fact would have been defeated but a family moored close by came to help. This monster is the Iron Lock where getting in to the lock landing is impossible as it is silted up and in a flow. However, even if I had been able to pull in and set the lock, there is no ladder in this lock so you can't get off your boat very easily to work the lock. I spoke to someone who had single handed it and she said she pulls the boat in but with the flow and a bridge in the way, it takes strength and considerable problem solving abilities. Onto the Llangollen canal which is super. Lots of good places to moor, lots of lovely people and plenty of walks. There are eight lift bridges but I managed to piggy back through most of them with another boat which had crew. I did manage two of the more difficult ones on my own plus the easy one up at Ponycysyllte, but I am getting ahead of myself. Oh, guess what, I noticed I was still topping up the oil and on investigation noticed that the fuel lift pump gasket was leaking. I am hoping that all the gaskets are of a certain age and need renewing, rather than a more deep seated engine issue. Anyway I pressed on up the Llangollen, stopping at marinas to ask about the leak. Eventually found a marina that could do it the following week so I pressed on up to Trevor, over the famous aqueduct. Stayed the night in the basin and walked over to the local beauty spot next to the River Dee. Next day I came back over the aqueduct, and enjoyed it better second time as it had been a bit windy the previous day. Back down to Ellesmere where I had my oil leak fixed. Fingers crossed that we have a less stressful next few weeks. Ellesmere is a nice little place. The mere is huge and boasts various boat experiences from a boat trip through to rowing boats and pedalos. There is also a cafe/restaurant overlooking the Mere which seemed very popular. I didn't eat there but I did get a really nice icecream from the kiosk there. There are also several smaller meres close by and I had a walk at Cole Mere while I was there.
My final tale is about my neck. I woke up one morning with a stiff and excruciatingly painful neck. I have no idea what caused it but for three days it was awful, I was even threatening myself with a visit to the doctor. On day 4 it started to improve but was still not totally better until day 8!! Once again I found boaters stepped up to the plate, with one couple helping me to move Olivia to the boat services so that I could empty my loo. Not only that but Paddy carried my loo from the boat to the emptying point. Now that is above and beyond the call of duty! (And much appreciated).