Jan 22nd 2010 - Wheelock
Well its been an interesting couple of days to say the least!
Shortly after breakfast yesterday, Jan 21st, we heard a boat coming! Sure enough it went past us and arrived at the ice and like a knife through butter ploughed through it all with no bother at all! Mind you it was a trad boat with a big engine! So, that was that, the ice was broken and there was a channel through it all ready for us - brilliant! So we quickly got ourselves togged up and set off in his wake. We negotiated a couple of locks without any bother and it wasn't long before we arrived at Hassall Green where there was a little shop at the side of the canal incorporating a post office, which I needed as I had something to post. So Clive moored the boat and I nipped across the lock to the shop. It was a nice little shop, one of those that sells a bit of everything. The lady behind the counter was very interested in what we were doing and how we were enjoying life aboard a narrowboat, how long we had been doing it etc etc Whilst I was chatting with her I noticed from their sign that they also sold diesel and gas - we needed both! So I completed my purchases and headed back to the boat to tell Clive about the diesel. He immediately untied the boat and manoevred her across the canal and pulled up neatly next to the diesel pump. We started filling the tank but it was incredibly slow. So much so that we left it filling and went inside to have a cuppa. Ages later the metre on the diesel tank was on a total go slow and we had only put in 123 litres. Clive went and checked the nozzle and it was just a tiny trickle coming through, he came to the conclusion that their tank was empty. Anyway whatever we decided to call it a day. We also bought a new gas bottle and got that stowed away, paid the bill then whilst I was getting my coat and boots back on Clive went to open the lock so that he could drive the boat straight in. Whilst he was opening the gates the engine suddenly stopped, all by itself! Strange - I went up to investigate and tried to turn it back on again - nothing doing - oh dear! Clive tried everything and it just wouldn't start so we ended up calling out the RCR (River Canal Rescue) the boater's version of the RAC. They couldn't get to us until 4.30pm so we just had to sit tight and wait. The guy finally arrived and after an initial inspection he pronounced that we had got contaminated diesel! It was almost 50 percent water! He couldn't actually do anything for us at the time and told us to stay put and one of his colleagues would come out to us in the morning, change the filters, disconnect our fuel tank and bring a gerry can of fresh diesel to run the engine until we could get to a boatyard to get the tank flushed out, thoroughly cleaned and refilled with good diesel.
So today a young man finally arrived and after working on the engine for an hour or so finally got it going - yipee! So we quickly got togged up and headed off down the lock. However I made sure I went into the shop and let them know what had occurred and suggested they didn't sell any more of their diesel to another unsuspecting boater before they have their tank checked thoroughly! I got an apology, that's all, no suggestion of a refund! So after paying £90 for 123 litres of diesel/water, we also had to pay for two new filters and a gerry can of fuel plus we are going to have to now pay a boatyard to clean out our fule tank after flushing all the contaminated diesel out - what a total waste of money!!! We are not accusing anybody here of watering the diesel it was probably caused by the recent very low temperatures when condensation can form in the tank but they really should have kept an eye on it!
Oh well - you live and learn so they say. We now know that one should always check the diesel supply before filling your tank!
Anyway we managed to get as far as Wheelock and after mooring the boat went for a walk up into the town to find a pub. Clive felt that after all our trials and tribulations of the last couple of days we deserved a drink. We had a drink in a pub but didn't really fancy staying there for dinner. We had however spotted an Italian restaurant next to the canal and decided to go back there. It was wonderful! We were the first people in the place - well it was only 5.30! We got special attention from the owner who recommended a lovely wine - a Sicilian Shiraz - gorgeous! The food was also excellent and we had a really enjoyable evening. I have to confess I felt decidedly underdressed! We hadn't got changed or anything as we were only intending popping into a pub for a wee drink but it didn't matter, we were treated as well as if we were dressed up to the nines and dripping in diamonds (I had forgotten to put mine on!).
We are now back on the boat sitting in candlelight and just hoping that we can watch two or three episodes of NCIS on the laptop without using any power! Tomorrow we have to reach Kings' Lock boatyard on half a gerry can of diesel so can't use any more tonight to top up the batteries! The boatyard has promised us an electric hook up when we arrive and will sort out our engine on Sunday. We were hoping to be in Nantwich by tomorrow as we had intended to meet up with our friends Heather and Les again however I am sure they will come over to see us or pick us up as we aren't really far away from them by car.
Next week we are anticipating some plain sailing - keep your fingers crossed for us please!