Marking my territory

On our leisurely trip back to the marina after a mini-break to Nottingham city centre, we got into an altercation. I’m not saying that Double Fracture and crew were blameless in all of this, but our opponent proved to be infuriatingly immovable. And violence shouldn’t be the answer, but sometimes a point needs to be made.

The lump of brickwork will remain on the bow as a warning to all other walls who think about getting in our way. 

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Heartbreak Road‘ by Darius Rucker.


The first lock

One of my aims for 2016 was to do a lock by myself. The opportunity presented itself a couple of days ago as Cake-Baking Goddess and myself were on the way to Nottingham for an evening of Thai food and theatre. The lock at Beeston is a mere three foot deep and seemed like a good lock for a solo beginner. And Lady Luck was smiling on me, as one of the lock gates was open, so I could just glide in. (And by glide I mean mess up my angles a bit and bounce of the sides a little. Not hard enough to break crockery, but enough to knock the clock off the wall.) We were in the lock and I sprang up the ladder (springing up ladders is easier when there is only one rung). I loosely tied up the boat (mainly because I have yet to master a tight knot), closed the gate behind us, and lowered the sluices.

I skipped over to the gates and opened the sluices, and the water level started to drop. I raced back to the tied rope for fear that my loose knot might still be strong enough to tip the boat if I didn’t release it soon enough and (sort of) held the boat steady as the lock did its stuff.

Beeston is a funny lock, in that two of the sluices have red markers of them (one at each end) indicating they need to be left open when the lock is not in use. Once the water level in the lock had dropped enough, I decided to open the red sluice of the gate we had entered through to save a bit of time. This did not save any time. Try as I might, I could not subsequently open the exit lock gate, even with the help of a friendly passing cyclist. I realised the water pressure from the open sluice was stopping me opening the gate, so sheepishly slunk back to close it.

I then thought of another time saving measure – just opening one gate to exit through. In theory one gate is all you need, but unfortunately in all this to-ing and fro-ing, Double Fracture had assumed a position that was not conducive to driving out of a single gate. Or at least not conducive to me manoeuvring her out. So I jumped off the boat again to open the other gate and finally we were on our way again.

Thankfully there was a boat waiting on the other side of the lock, so I could scarper without closing the gates. All in all I am counting this as a moderate success. But not so much of a success that the thought of sailing Double Fracture back to the marina alone does not terrify me. An advert has been placed on Facebook for a lock lackey. So far no-one has volunteered – I may have to up the bribery from beer and crisps to prosecco and canapes.

This blogpost was brought by ‘Drive by‘ by Train.

Don’t panic

It’s a beautiful summer’s day. We a pootling along down the Trent, enjoying a beer. Life is good. And then the engine cuts out. We are now drifting on a river, with currents and a mind of its own. I look at the beer in my hand and think ‘Why did I not take the necessary precautions against mechanical breakdown and not open this bottle? Sure I needed to be prepared for a situation which demands clear-headed, rational thought such as this?” (I had drunk about a third of the bottle by this point. Any lack of clear-headedness might not have been beverage-related.) I tried to look calm to my guests like this happens all the time and I have the situation under control. I think this probably looked like a watery smile which rarely inspires confidence.

And then I see it. A possible easy fix. Surely I can’t have got so lucky as to actually know how to solve the problem? And simultaneously impress my friends with new-found boat genius status? I reached over to the ignition and turned the key. The engine burst into life again, and I burst into smug relief.

“Your foot must have pressed the ‘off’ button,” I explained to the driver, who was sitting on the roof while steering. “It’s no big deal.” (For which read, it’s definitely a best-case scenario and the only engine problem I can fix.)

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Way back when’ by Kodaline.

Just when you thought it was safe to flush the toilet….

The tank was sealed with appropriate sealant, the pressure valve was unblocked.  OK, so when I tried to flush the toilet, nothing happened at all.  Nothing.  (At least that means it has no opportunity to get blocked).  But overall things were looking up toilet-wise.

In a potentially unrelated incident, when I woke up the next morning none of the electrics worked.  But I didn’t panic.  I checked the mains line was properly plugged in.  I checked the circuit switches on the boat and off the boat (I was quite proud of myself for thinking of the shore end).  They were both on green.  I was stumped.

So I did what any modern woman would do – put a plea out on facebook for help.  And within minutes I discovered one of my colleagues husband is a sparky and happy to talk me through possible fixes.  I jumped in the car and rushed home. (An hour later.  I was worried about my home disappearing in the flames of an electrical fire, but I didn’t want to be rude to the people I was out with.)

Once back on the boat, I sent my new favourite electrician pictures of the circuit switches and anything else I thought might be relevant, idly pressing red buttons and flicking the circuit switches.  And realised that the electrics were working again.  I sheepishly admitted this, and he had the good grace to not laugh while I was on the phone (thus earning my repeat business).

In the confusing world of currents, volts and amps, I learnt that a circuit-breaking switch on red was actually a good thing, and green meant something was wrong.  (I had not learnt the real name for the circuit-breaking switch however.)  You think there is an internationally-agreed, cross-disciplinary code for colours, only to find that those mavericks in electronics have bucked the trend.  There is a time and a place for individuality people.

I have not tried to flush the toilet since (it might also be useful to mention I have not tried to use the toilet either).  It might be entirely innocent in the whole charade.  I think that’s unlikely.

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Jump in the line‘ by Harry Belafonte.