Monday 16th August 2009
A long way to go today. It's a bit strange, I feel quite sad that it is nearly over, but also comfortable to be on home territory.
Setting off from the mooring past Kingfisher
We shared the three locks at Soulbury with another boat, the pounds were quite low, but we went through quite quickly. However as we pulled away at the top of the locks I noticed that the engine, always a bit smoky, seemed to be producing a bit more smoke than usual. I was just commenting on that point when the smoke alarm in our engine room went off. Within a second there was white 'smoke' pouring from the boards around the engine. Alan took the helm and steered for the bank, I ran through the boat to the front to try and get a rope off, while David gathered fire extinguishers and ran to the back.
The canal was very shallow here, and we ran aground a couple of feet from the bank, but I jumped off and held the rope while smoke poured from the engine room, and the other fire alarm - in the kitchen - started up as well. The boat we had come up the locks with passed us, calling to ask if there was anything they could do to help. A woman came from a boat moored further along the canal with another fire extinguisher. Alan had the problem that he couldn't see whether there was a fire in the engine space because of the boards around it, but removing the boards might give oxygen to any fire in there. However, he opened up the space and found that there was no fire, so David and I started to try to get the smoke out of the boat.
We tried to pull the boat into the bank so that we could moor it, and start to try to identify the problem. This proved impossible, as the canal was so shallow, so we tried towing it through the bridge to the next section of canal which looked slightly deeper. This was not easy, and when we'd got there we found that the canal was, if anything, even more shallow.
However, while we were trying to sort out what to do the owner of the widebeam 'Muddy Waters' suggested that we tied up next to him, so that we had a bit more depth. He was very helpful, spending time discussing the problem with Alan, and making suggestions. Our thanks to him.
Moored up next to 'Muddy Waters'.
We found that the engine was boiled dry, despite the fact that Alan had checked the water level before we set of in the morning. So, having waited for the engine to cool down, we filled it again, and tried starting the engine. After some debate we decided that the 'smoke' was largely steam from the engine boiling.
The engine sounded fine, there was no smoke, so we decided to progress carefully, keeping an eye on the temperature as we went. This meant that Alan was stuck with steering all day, as I didn't want to have to deal with another incident.
We worked from Church Lock as far as Cook's Wharf with another boat with an efficient crew, with me lockwheeling ahead.
Passing the Swing Bridge near Cooks Wharf
Speckled Wood Butterfly, which somehow found itself trapped inside the boat. David helped me to remove a toplight from the window to let it out. I've just discovered that they don't sip nectar, but feed from the 'honeydew' secreted by aphids - yuck!
Heading for Marsworth 2, bottom lock. Ivinghoe Beacon and the hilltop Bronze Age Fort in the background.
Sunlight across the reservoir
Below lock 42.
The penultimate lock
We arrived back at the marina at about 7:45, with no more incidents - very relieved.
Miles: 15.8 , Locks: 22
Total miles:388.8 , Total locks: 383
11 hours ago