All Good Things…

27 Oct

All good things come to en and, so they say, as have my cruising days for the time being. Two – three months I’ve been out there and loved every minute.

Yes, we struck for home on Saturday, having decided this would be the better day of the weekend. And it was. A glorious day – bit windy at times but nothing Hobo and crew couldn’t handle.

I’d fiffed and faffed about whether to return yet or not but a couple of locks en route being due to close next week for maintenance was one consideration. And my inverter bank of batteries needing a 12 hour equalisation charge (to be done on shore power) was another. Then of course there is the predicted hurricane and flooding…

Bit of a no-brainer really.

The belt on the alternator that supplies power to Hobo’s inverter battery bank has been slipping, so not delivering a full charge. This means I have had to run the engine for a couple of hours every day to keep the 240v supply going. The recently installed 6 x 2v single cell traction batteries are capable of delivering at least 4 days of power (and have done so previously) without the need for an engine run.

I understand that this equalisation charge is required, when a full charge is not being achieved, in order to preserve battery life/performance. So be it. There’s no way I am going to jeopardise the health of said batteries.

With new industrial belt fitted, big thanks to Jennie, Steve and Steve, we got cracking at 9.30 am (early for us) as we thought it might be a big ask to cover the 10 miles and 12 locks in the now shortened daylight hours.

It really is unfathomable when trying to time a cruise as so many factors can delay you/speed you on. Take locks. If a lock is set when you arrive it is so much quicker to negotiate, not to mention easier on the muscles, and probably more than halves the time you spend there. There’s also moored boats (polite to slow down when passing) and other river traffic and so on.

So, this being the case, we set off with  open minds and hopeful hearts. We would get back if we could but not stress if we couldn’t.

As it happened, 10 out of the 12 locks were set for us, which is unheard of. We stopped for a bacon sarni at the first one that was against us and, just as we finished, a boat came down and therefore left it set. The other one was a) semi electric and b) sporting an enthusiastic family that insisted on helping with the winding and pushing at the manual end. So really an incredible result.

We were going to do this easily. What could possibly go wrong…?

Well there was the odd shower but, more disappointingly for me, an almost total lack of autumn colour. By the time the leaves get round to providing that spectacular fiery golden backdrop to the river, the expected wild winds will blow them all away.

I tried…009But the colours just weren’t… 011 There…010Shame.

Never mind.

There was this though,… 008Whatever this is. Doctor Bob, I salute you and would love the guided tour of all the gadgies. Do click on the pic and take time to look closely.

Oh, and there was the scary moment when, on entering a lock, the throttle/gear lever came off in my hand…015Just when you need the engine to control the boat! But I did manage a temporary fix and avoid a crash till John could get on the case…017Restoring normal service…018Thank goodness.

So, on we go. We are making record time and in less than 5.5 hours we are passing my home mooring. We have to go on for another half mile in order to turn as Hobo has to be the other way round so that the front doors end up in the right place for getting off and on. It’s an awkward spot but it’s home and I love it dearly.

Takes a bit of roping into place, which we have down to a t now and not normally a problem. But the two boats behind have crept forward in my absence so Hobo won’t fit. She has to be in exactly the right spot for the ropes we leave behind to reach the cleat on the bow. And they wouldn’t.

By now we have an audience of neighbours, braving the now heavy-ish rain, welcoming us all home and trying to help. How nice.

While I was trying to convince the skippers of said boats that they were the problem and needed to be hotched back a bit,  John decided to walk round the plastic boat in front to access Hobo’s sharp end to assess the problem from there.

It might have been unsuitable footwear. It might have been slippery when wet. It might have been the three bottles of Old Speckled Hen…

But it sure was a big splash. John was in the river!

Now we’ve never had a man overboard situation when cruising together and I ran from stern to bow in record time – worried I was. But he was fine; not deep, not cold, not even shaken as he slipped and slithered and finally scrambled onto my rotten old jetty… 100_0899Seen here during last year’s flooding.

True to form, this manky old structure saw fit to collapse further at this point…

I must have been in shock, didn’t even get a picture. Bugger, would have been a goodie..!

Well, well, well. What an end to the day. We left the ropes in a secure but untidy mess as I insisted John get out of the wet, muddy clothes, jump in the shower and get warm and dry by the fire.

We could get ship-shape tomorrow. That’s the royal we of course – it would be me.

All in all a brilliant day, mission accomplished and a tale to tell.

That was yesterday. Today I have, in-between showers, made some sort of sense of my bit of riverbank, neatened up the roof and tried to prepare for the high winds and torrential rain that is forecast for tonight/tomorrow morning. Hatches are battened and anything likely to be picked up and hurled at the boat has been tied down, nailed down or buried. The inside of Hobo has been mucked out and some semblance of order restored – boating to a deadline plays havoc with my usual orderliness and mountains of washing up/detritus appears from nowhere – half the riverbank seems to have gravitated to my floor. And the can of evaporated milk that fell out the fridge when I opened the door during a coffee making expedition didn’t help, the rugs in the kitchen took the full force and were hastily booted in to a corner and replaced with newspaper – to be dealt with later.

Now I sit and wait for the full force of the storm (raining already) and wonder if the willow tree that leans over my boat (branches now grown back and overhanging) will still be standing in the morning… 007

I hope so.

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