I'll pretend it was only yesterday I was last here!
We escaped the Llangollen but not without injury. During an emergency "hirer enforced stop" 'Ellis' clonked her prop on something hard under the water and as well as bending a fin more than it was designed to be, it gave the outer edge an additional chamfer (can't spell that word).
This has meant that at certain revs - which is basically the ones you WANT to travel at, it 'chatters' ... rather annoyingly!
Trying to go just below or above said speed is a dark art - one which Alan Rickman would probably struggle to achieve too.
I'd resigned myself to having to spend (even more) money I don't have when a friend suggested it would probably be covered on the boats insurance policy - that had never even occured to me. Upon making a phone call, right enough, GJW said I could arrange it's replacement and they would pick up the bill. GREAT I thought... well that was the theory - the reality was that late June/early July is not the easiest of times to get into a dry dock!
I made a few phone calls but the general consensus seemed to be if it was an emergency we could fit you in between blackings.... apparently a bent prop (that makes the shaft spin out of line thus eventually knackering the stern gland) ISN'T an emergency until said gland is knackered! ffs. I thought I'd been thrown a lifeline briefly at Nantwich when it was suggested I call in with the boat on Monday morning for someone to look at... only to find a precious 'chief engineer' who (and I quote) "I'm not putting my hand in the dirty canal to feel it"
couldn't give a flying fart was too busy to take a proper a look and diagnosed it by running in gear whilst tied up from the noise. So - when the expert says it will take a while before any damage is done and that I should just tolerate it, what else is there to do?
Anyway - we've pottered on ... still trying to find the sweet spot that doesn't annoy the hell out of me. It's not easy.
Our travels have taken us UP and down the Macclesfield a coupe of times - we HAD been heading through Standedge tunnel again but the woman form CRT has been ignoring my emails requesting an update on the passage procedure ... so in despair, we binned our bookings and let some other fool have THEIR boat banged through the tunnel by a
dad's army a well meaning volunteer.
Not that the Macclesfield has been much easier - the Bosley Lock flight is under reduced operating hours due to water supply problems - THEM being Todbrook reservoir still not being repaired... in theory it's ok for the same number of boats that need to go up or down the flight to make the trip - just during a shorter period of time.... I just dont see HOW that helps with saving water...it just makes a it a pain in the arse to get the boat to the top or bottom at the right time or end up in a big queue with no where to moor along with a load of other boats in the same predicament. Bonkers.
On our most recent desecent - it was absoulytly hammering down and we were about half way down when everyone ground to a halt - a v-lockie came ambling back up the hill to say we should stay put as a paddle had broken and drained the pound above lock 11. Crt had been called and would be there in about an hour.
An hour is a long time to hang around in a lock flight in the rain but luckily mother nature decided to chuck us a bone and let a little sun out for a while.
To be fair, the Crt worker bees DID arrive at about the time promised... having to walk down the flight to the lock - by then we'd had a good old nosey around and I decided their lump hammer would not be the only tool they were going to need - ergo, I had a wander down to
interfere assist ... complete with a crowbar ... which turned out to be JUST the thing they needed!
That wasn't the end of it though as because the flight was due to close entry at 1pm, when things got moving again (down to one paddle on the offending lock) some hire boats began their ascent of the flight.... ONLY to be turned around by the v-lockie who wanted to lock up the flight as soon as possible and beggar off home. The logical thing to have done would have been to leave the locks OFF for the night so that the backlog of boats could get through and then start again tomorrow... since when did LOGIC ever come into these things though?
A hire boat in the pound I was in was trying to turn around but I pointed out to him THAT would mean the following morning he'd be the wrong way around to begin the flight again - between us, the bosun and I helped him reverse down the lock he'd just come up and at least then he'd be pointing the right way without having to travel miles to a winding hole in the (now raining again) bad weather.
Our Journey continued without problems - well the usual "closed pub" or "broken swing bridge" but they are pretty much the norm now. We got down as far as Stone with our guest - a new lady on for 2 weeks...I don't usually take a 2 week booking from someone unless they've been on before...it's TOO long if you don't know (from either side) what you are getting. It was a gamble that paid off as the lady was lovely. Self aware, independent and generally happy to be on /off the boat doing her own thing.
I'd taken the approach THIS year that ANY booking that came in would be accepted... to try and repay some covid borrowings from last year AND make inroads to the divorce loan. It's fair to say the last couple of years have caused a major fiscal headache for 'Ellis' - this business was never intended to earn enough to pay enforced borrowings back ... the whole point had simply been to earn enough to live over the winter - perhaps with an out of season holiday somewhere warm now and again- NOT commit to 4 and 10 years for divorce and covid bounce back respectively.
We're still here though and managing to cling to the wreckage but boy we're tired. Another thing about "this year" was that I put the schedule together PRE-COVID and MID divorce... ergo, I had to have short turn around times to fit more trips in to try and earn the money to make the loan repayments - it was always going to be tight but even "ginger super heros" can get tired. Especially when you get the occasional guests who HAVENT bought into the 'Live-aboard experience' but just want to save a few hundred quid on a Hotel boat.... I've lost count of the number of times Ive had to say "this is not a Hotel boat - we are a live-aboard-experience"... ie. MAKE yourself a cup of coffee without passively aggressively mentioning to your other half that you've not been offered one yet! GRrrr.
Still, for the most part I'd not swap this life for my former one - or most other peoples ones I suppose (well maybe the retired couples with a bank balance who have time to explore places/have meals out) lol.
Writing of meals out - we took our last guest out for tea (so I didn't have to cook) in Stone and although the meal wasn't the best I've had, it was nice - made even more so when she insisted on paying. I must have been looking tired /grumpy .
We've also managed a few pub visits just for drinks but have to say that all this table service outside DOES take an age and frankly the sooner I can go to a bar to order the better.
Whilst down in Stone, we called into the Marina and I paid the deposit for THIS winters mooring... it was nice to be back and we spent a couple of nights there giving the guest a chance to explore and us time to catch up with chores/laundry etc on the shoreline.
Speaking (well writing) of shoreline, whenever possible at the moment we are popping into marinas for a night to give the batteries a rest - tbh, I was hoping to get this season out of them but they are just about hanging on by the skin of their acidic teeth. NOT helped by a lot of cloudy days meaning the solar has done bugger all. The constant battery management and use by the inverter for the new fridge freezer is tipping them (and me) over the edge.
So - I've bitten the bullet.... having tried to buy from the marina (but the ones they had were not the right size), I've got some coming today which I'll have to get fitted pronto - I'm RELLY not looking forward to doing that in a heat wave (it's 20th July today and el-scorchio).
JUST when you think there is going to be enough in the wallet to cover winter, something on the boat has other ideas... I suppose that's why folks joke about BOAT being an acronym for 'Bring out another thousand' - You've got to laugh... otherwise you'd cry!
Still, at least (assuming they arrive) from tomorrow I can relax a little and just let the batteries/solar and charger get on with job. Before then however I probably should defrost the freezer so it's working as efficiently as possible, clean the boat and make room for an Asda delivery booked for lunchtime.
Tomorrow we set off back down the Maccclesfiied on my final "hang over" trip booked and paid last year that covid messed up... TIME to stick a testing swab down my throat and up my nose to reassure the guests all is well.
Until next time...