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Saturday, 25 April 2009

Murder at Debdale: 2009 Cruise commences

As we awaited the completion of repairs and improvements to Lily Pad we were told of a murder that had recently occurred at the wharf. We had noticed and experienced belligerent behaviour by the miscreant ourselves but were shocked to hear that it had reached the ultimate conclusion.

Not content with physically attacking boat crews and boats, and apparently causing the capsize of canoes, he actually killed. It is actually just natural for a soon to be proud father to protect his partner, but the cob that nests annually near the entrance to the marina killed a Canada goose that strayed too near. He is a canny bird, though, quite happy to take bread from Carol's hand one moment and the next to attack my feet as I walk along the side of the boat. We hope they successfully raise their family, we will find out on our return.


(small aside, I just managed to erase loads of words because I accidentally hit Ctrl button. Given my typing speed this should not be repeated. Sadly the autosave quickly saved the much reduced writing above, silly me!! I think I'll write it in Word & paste it in next time)

Last October when we returned to Debdale I spoke to Mike telling him we had two hydraulic oil leaks from our drive system and wanted an additional charge controlling system (Adverc) fitting as we had to run the engine for a very long time to get the charge level to anywhere near 100%. Mike said he would get these jobs done sooner rather than later during our stay at our winter moorings. We wanted to set off earlier than we had done the year before, but had arranged to go to Orlando with our younger daughter and family, returning on Easter Saturday, so we thought we might get away around the 16th April. Lily was taken into the workshop for the jobs just before Easter & when I looked at the engine on our return I saw the oil leaks had not been looked at!

We are a very easygoing couple; otherwise there might have been another murder! Suffice to say work didn’t go to well on the oil leaks, and the following weekend (18/19) there was still a problem, but it should have been completed on Monday, but a part was wrong, Tuesday morning the part was collected, only to find it too was not right. We got under way eventually at 6pm on Tuesday 21st, cruised to Foxton, I had a pint of Adnams as we chatted to Tony Matts, returned to the boat & checked for oil leaks with my hand, and it came out covered in oil!! I dried it off fully and at just gone 9 the next morning we were back at Debdale. Mike had been poorly the night before, but Gordon arrived just past 10 and pinched it tighter (but I must confess that here was hardly a drip on the clean paper I had put around the joint, the oil I found the night before must have been left over from the fitting work).

At 11am Thursday 23rd we set off, the same date as last year! We didn’t get too far too fast as at Foxton they were filming a boat descending the locks. Later this year they are showing an episode of “Flog it” from Harborough and this was colour for the show. It was a lovely day, so I enjoyed another Adnams and we both enjoyed a sausage baguette and chatted. Carol was filmed feeding ducks, I polished a few bits of brass, and eventually at about 2 we set off up the locks, exiting at 3.15, and not before times as Carol was desperate for an ice cream from the Top Lock Cottage……really excellent Bennetts ice cream, even better on this warm sunny day.

Trees are starting to turn green on the Laughton Hills.

We cruised just over 7 miles and tied up
on the Avon embankment just past the
Welford Arm. A pretty spot and a great
place to work on the boat and as Lily
really was not looking her best we
decided to stay all day Thursday and
Friday morning. She then set off with
well polished paintwork, freshly
painted (still damp) gunwales and back
deck and basically a smart boat again.

Whilst working on her we met a charming couple Eva & David on nb The Tug, and ex Goldsborough show boat. We are off to Brussels in mid May for our wedding anniversary and it turned out they had lived there for many years and had only recently sold their flat over there. They gave us some very useful info and recommended a load of restaurants, though I fear our pockets are not as deep as theirs are! Their boat was originally fitted with a pretend old engine, newly built in Latvia or some such. It seemed to break down most days and whilst those of a more mechanical bent might be able to live with this, they couldn’t. It now has a new Vetus engine & they love it.

We set off from the embankment at 11.30 and cruised 10 miles to Crick where we had arranged to meet friends coming by road to eat at Edwards. We had eaten there several times before, but always whilst it was run by the original owners, but the web site looked interesting and Eva said they had eaten well there. We will not be returning! The menu was not particularly interesting, particularly the desserts, which we avoided, and it was far from inexpensive. A shame.

Well all the week had been fine as we pootled around, now we wanted to start cruising, so Saturday 25th dawned wet! We dressed in waterproofs and set off around 9, did the 200 yards to Crick tunnel in which the waterproofs were useful as it is a very “wet” tunnel. When we emerged it had stopped raining, and we then had a fine day, though the wind was fairly strong & cool. We had little time to wait at the picturesque Watford Locks, and emerged around 11.30, spotting our first kingfisher of the trip. Also there was an intrepid wagtail pair that had decided that half way up a lock gate was the ideal place to raise their brood.

A mile and a half further on I was just having a bite of the very tasty sandwich Carol had made for me as we passed Weltonfield Narrowboats. As Carol increased engine revs there was a horrible noise from it, which disappeared as she throttled back, reappearing as she increased revs again. We tied up & I found that one of the twin alternator drive belts had been thrown off (I knew I should have checked they had tightened them). This was no real problem as I have several spares, but then I noticed a ring of grease splatters around the white painted engine bay. This had come from the main hydraulic drive motor and clearly an oil seal had started to leak, and equally clearly we needed help. I rang Debdale and reported the problem to mechanic Steve. Unfortunately he couldn't help much on the phone as he had nothing to do with the building of Lily as he had not joined Mike’s team then. He had not studied our system, especially as we have not had any problems, save for the oil leak. With Mike away till Monday nothing will happen till then & I reckon the earliest we will be cruising again is late on Tuesday. At least we filled with water today & have empty toilet tanks and we have a lovely mooring, surprisingly quiet despite being close to the M1 and the main railway line to Birmingham, plus we have a Grand Prix to watch tomorrow and I’ve finally sussed out how to set up our satellite TV system.

As you can see we are broken down in a very pretty spot.