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Thursday 3rd May 2012

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!” Yes today is my birthday & this weekend we are off to  the boat for my birthday weekend treat & hoping to go to Chester & back, long weekend, off till Tuesday, great, the new gear box has been fitted with the required new gear cable going on today, so we can have a good run out hopefully problem free!

That was a very short lived “Happy Birthday” I have just received a phone call from Aqueduct Marina, the guys have just been to fit the new gear cable for us arriving tomorrow & they have found an exploded leisure battery! They have stressed the utmost urgency of getting the engine room steam cleaned & washed down with a neutralising detergent immediately & checking all the other four leisure & one starter batteries. OMG! I’ve never heard of this before, but I know how damaging battery acid can be & this has exploded spraying acid all over the engine room.  Obviously I gave them the go ahead to do whatever needs doing immediately. I phoned Lochaber at work & he was as surprised as me at the situation, but at least we are going down tomorrow & can see for ourselves & sort things out. “HAPPY  EXPENSIVE BIRTHDAY TO ME!”

Friday 4th May 2012

Over the shock of yesterdays news, still looking forward to the planned run out to Chester. Lovely to have the light evenings back to drive down to Cheshire, car packed left the house at 5.50pm, ten minutes away from home & my mobile rang, it was Aqueduct Marina……………….Clean up had been done, new battery installed, gear cable fitted but she won’t start! They think acid could have got into starter motor, bank holiday weekend & no qualified person to deal with this until TUESDAY!!!! We are on our way, we are not going home but looks like our planned weekend is not to be.

We are both absolutely deflated, how many more times are we going to have trips ruined? is our boat cursed? are we cursed? how much more bad luck can we cope with?

We arrived at the marina around 11.30pm, found our boat as she was near the slipway not on her normal mooring as they had moved her to get the engine room cleaned down but could not mover her to get her back to her mooring, now there’s a thought, if she started to get her to the slipway after the explosion why would she not start after the clean up, maybe it’s not the starter!  In the dark at 11.30pm after a 5hr drive was not the time to be raising our hopes, a good nights sleep & a positive approach is what is required.

We made sure the shore line was plugged in & that the charger was off just in case this was faulty & fell into bed hoping Saturday would bring hopeful news.

Saturday 5th May 2012

We woke up this morning after a cold night to the sound of “electrical” beeping! Oh, no what now! could this be another battery about to explode? could it be the inverter or the charger malfunctioning? Quickly switch everything off….its still “beeping” outside & unplug the shoreline! Once outside the hatch we discovered the reason for the “beeping”….Paul from the marina had decided to come over with the spare keys we always leave on site & have a tinker around to see if he could get her started for us or at least confirm the problem, we took a deep breath & stopped panicking!

Paul tried numerous things but nothing seemed to work, as it was a Bank holiday no suppliers were open now until Tuesday & he still suspected the starter. This was our first opportunity to survey the damage in the engine room.

The weather was not brilliant so we decided to go into Crewe & get some paint for the engine room & a couple of relay switches as they seemed like they had acid penetration & that could be the simple answer to the problem,  wishful thinking!

Paint & brushes purchased, relay switches tracked down at Nantwich Basin Chandlery along with new fender which we had been meaning to replace for a while we made our way back to the marina. When we got back Paul was still around & asked if we had seen the exploded battery at the side of the workshop, this was what we saw…………

So, now you can imagine the amount of acid that had been sprayed all over the engine room, these pictures are quite frightening as if someone had been working in the engine room when this happened the outcome would have been far worse. We have established that Albion Batteries are the own brand of Midland Chandlers. I have contacted them & sent these photos to them but to date have not had a reply!

On a lighter note, we had a lot of concern & well wishes from #boatsthattweet on Twitter, thanks everybody. One of my twitter contacts @narrowboatruth had let me know they might be in our area over the weekend on the start of a 2 week break aboard. When we got back from looking at the battery they tweeted to say they were moored just outside the marina, it was lovely to meet Johnny & his family & see their nb, she was so homely & comfortable compared to the sparse newness of ours. We had a cuppa & a good laugh for a while, I don’t know if they realised how much we needed a laugh that day, but thanks to them our spirits were somewhat lifted when we said goodbye.  They stayed the night there & tweeted as they left early on Sunday morning heading for Chester where we were supposed to be!

So Saturday had been quite emotional, seeing the exploded battery, seeing the damage left in the engine room & still not being able to get her started. The new relay switches made no difference, but can at least be kept as spares. we felt that we had not achieved a lot today so a few glasses of Guinness were consumed along with a very spicy curry, tomorrow I think we will open the paint weather permitting!

Sunday 6th May 2012

We awoke this morning to clear skies, beautiful sunshine & with a more positive attitude, we were not going to get away this weekend so we would make the most of the time to do all the odd jobs & get the engine room repainted & enjoy the marina as the spot near the slipway had a better outlook than our usual mooring, so it was rather pleasant. More people passed here as some of the boats on Brokerage were moored just along from us.

The weather forecast for today was good, we took all the deck boards off, made sure the mad boat dog, Caley the spaniel was securely tied up on the grass next to the mooring so that she didn’t jump on board & into the hole of the engine room! it was a beautiful warm sunny day & it was a pleasure to  be working on our boat, Lochaber wire brushed & repainted the metal surfaces of the engine room & the metal supports for the decking boards, I did all the blue touch ups that were needed around the boat & completely emptied & tidied the hold at the bow. Cleaned all the windows on the starboard side as we can only get to the port side when she is back on her usual mooring.

Wow! what a difference, this is the newly painted engine room, job well done now lets hope it stays dry into the evening so it can all dry before the forecasted rain comes on later tonight!

A large hot air  balloon came across the sky as we enjoyed the afternoon sunshine, it was very low & looked as if they were admiring the mass of colourful narrowboats in the marina maybe not realising that we were admiring them, every time the burner lit up we could hear it they were that close.

We  relaxed with a few more Guinness for the rest of the day whilst doing a bit of internet research into the makers of Albion batteries & exactly how our Victron charger should be set up, so to ensure that it is not overcharging the batteries, as this could cause an explosion.

A beautiful evening in the marina.

Monday 7th May 2012

The heavy rain had woken us a couple of times during the night & we knew that there would be a certain amount of water in the newly painted engine room, we just hope that the paint had enough time & sun on Saturday to be completely dry before the water got in. It was still raining when we got up but because we had actually managed to have a productive Saturday we decided to go to Bunbury locks by car as we could not get there by boat.

It was rainy & very cold all day but we still enjoyed getting by the cut even if we had to do it in the car this time. Bunbury is a staircase of two double locks.

We watched a couple of boats make their way through the locks, then decided to take a walk along the towpath towards the winding hole south of Bunbury locks.

If anyone can tell me what these holes on the canal bank are I would be very grateful, they seem to resemble tunnels or overflows of some sort.

We turned around & despite the biting cold & the drizzly rain decided to walk back towards the Anglo Welsh Hire base at the locks & a bit further along the towpath northward. The canal was very quiet probably due to the seasonally cold weather!

It was now mid afternoon & we were freezing so we decided that as I had not yet had a birthday treat due to all of the chaos of the weekend we would drive back & stop in the newly refurbished Badger Public House at Church Minshull, I can highly recommend it the food was lovely & the Real Ale was good!

On that note we made our way back to the marina just as the sun decided to appear.

Tuesday 8th May 2012

We awoke to sunny skies again & warmer temperatures, the wash out May Day Monday seemed to have passed, we were a bit down today as we had to leave for home later & we still did not have an answer to the non starting problem. At around 9am, Joe Aqueduct’s electrics genius appeared at the boat, still convinced that it was the starter he embarked on some electrical testing. Would you believe that after all our worrying & not being able to start her all weekend a 20 minute job revealed that this was the offending object…..

……..the insulator switch for the starter battery had been corroded inside by the acid spillage! New switch fitted & she started first time, however this was no good as we were now due to start thinking about packing up & going back up to Scotland, oh, what the hell, the sun is shining, the boat is running we need to test the new gear box lets take her out for a few hours!

We went a few miles along the canal towards Middlewich & turned at the first winding hole just past bridge 16. She seemed to have more power now & just needed a light touch the move the throttle unlike before when I needed two hands to make any adjustments or change gear. How nice it was to get moving if only for a few hours, sausage sandwiches & jam scones on the move, the wind in our hair & a quiet drive plate beneath our feet.

We arrived back at the marina around 3pm, this is the first time we had used & appreciated the benefits of the new widened marina entrance, last time I was more concerned with no reverse gear than the width of the entrance, this time it was a pleasure to take her in with ease not having to take such a tight turn into the mooring.

Now she is back on her own mooring repaired, repainted & ready for a less eventful time at the end of May when we return for another long weekend.

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