Further misadventures of No’Orseman

Ian has sent the following text and pictures describing recent events on No’Orseman………..

‘LPG, Logs & Loos’

Foreword:

Dear Readers. below lies yet another lengthy saga that relates to a series of events that statistically could not, and definitely should not, happen to one boat in just a few days! Enjoy (at our expense)!

 

Rather unexpectedly the crew discovered an opportunity to spend a few days on the boat.

Being committed on the morning of Tuesday 11th. July it was decided that, following a bite of lunch, we would take off to the boat that afternoon, planning to return on Sunday (16th.) as other commitments dictated.

Early afternoon we duly arrived at the marina and went through the, familiar to all boaters’, process of transferring the boot full of ‘stuff’ to the boat. Electrics and gas were turned on and the hosepipe connected up to fill the on-board tank.

Incidentally, aren’t the new water points (with electricity connections) wonderful! It has been possible to remove quite a long length of hose from our additional hose reel that we have to use in the marina; the distance must be at least 5 metres less than before!

Getting back, the ‘Mate’ says that if the gas has been turned on she’ll put the kettle on for a cuppa; assured this is the case attempts were made to light the gas, to no avail. That is to say the gas would light okay, but fade quite quickly and then go out.

Knowing that we had, at the very least, 1¾ bottles of lpg on board, that’s the 13kg size, this seemed rather strange; perhaps there is an airlock in the pipe work? This was ruled out, eventually, when countless further attempts to light any of the appliances made absolutely no difference.

Now No’orseman has an auto-changeover fitted that is combined (as a single unit) with the regulator, it is French and, assuming it was fitted originally, is therefore 17 years old (boat built in 2000). It has always been reliable in the past giving no problem whatsoever, but it seems its time had come.

A walk up to see Nick at TW Marine ascertained a number of things: Yes – he had in stock a replacement auto-changeover. No – it was not like the existing one (in fact he had never seen one like ours!). Yes – he could supply the necessary fittings to connect the new one to the boats 15mm annealed copper pipework, which would require some slight alteration to accommodate the different changeover with coupled but separate regulator.

A long and thorough search of his new workshop / stores (which are very smart, by the way) resulted in all the parts needed, except one! It was necessary to have a 15mm (metric) to 3/8” (Imperial) reducer at the stop valve onto the copper, which, of course, he didn’t have. He said he would pick one up on his way in, in the morning.

It just so happened that, in the morning, Wednesday, the Plumbers Merchant didn’t have one either, so Nick very kindly arranged for his brother, Steve, to collect one from another Merchant that had one in stock.

The part arrived, it was finally assembled by Nick in his workshop, I collected the assembly and took it to the boat, offered it up and – YES! (of course) it didn’t fit!

It turns out that the feed pipe we all thought was 15mm copper is, in fact 5/8copper.

I don’t know about you (the reader) but I’d never even heard of 5/8” copper, and I’ve been around plumbing all my life. To save you doing the maths, 5/8” copper is measured by its external diameter (OD) not its bore (ID), therefore its diameter in metric is 15.875mm making it that .875mm too big!

Nick, bless him, scoured the internet until he found just one – yes, just one, suitable connector from 3/8” to 5/8” seemingly in the whole country.

I have since leaned that 5/8” annealed (soft – thick wall) copper has generally been used, in the past, in refrigeration, but has been phased out and stocks of fittings etc. are not being replenished; once gone – they’re gone!

Good news! Except that it has to be shipped and it is now late in the day. The offending item will not arrive until tomorrow (Thursday), by courier and at an unknown time.

For those in the know, TW Marine keep the hours 9am – 5pm, well, the part arrived at 6.30pm on the day (Thursday) which was received by Nick who had eventually been able to track it and had stayed on especially (many thanks again Nick). He took delivery of it then, rightly, went home.

Friday morning saw me again wending my way up to the workshop to be greeted by the new,fully assembled, auto-changeover which, upon returning to the boat, fitted perfectly –HOORAH!

Drilled holes, mounted it all up, connected everything, checked it all again (just in case) and turned on the gas(?) at both bottles and the in-line stop valve, and – HISS. At last we are, again, cooking with gas!

No doubt you will have been wondering how we have managed, all this time, without hot drinks or food? Well we have an inverter on board and a low(ish) watt electric kettle so were, to some degree, able to make lukewarm drinks; it transpires that the inverter struggles with a 1kw kettle.

We managed largely by eating salads, or fish ‘n’ chips from up the road and frequenting the cafes in Whaley Bridge for hot beverages etc..

Our thanks go out, too, to our neighbours, in the marina: John & Sue (‘Mr. Bojangles’) for the kind loan of a single burner camping stove which they carry for ‘emergencies’.

Friday then, after some lunch, saw us chugging (at last) towards the previously intended overnight stop at Bridge 18 (Lyme View Marina) on the Macc. We reached this destination without further incident, although we had passed ‘Dawn Mist’ (Pam & Geoff), moored and seemingly deserted, on the way.

Having been moored ourselves for only a short time we were joined by ‘Dawn Mist’ who moored just in front of us.

It transpired that they were planning on meeting up with David & Joan (Jones) the next evening (Saturday) for a meal at the Miners Arms so it was decided that we would join them and make up a ‘party’, after, that is, we had done some more cruising! We were aiming for Gurnett Aqueduct for lunch, after turning first, then back to Bridge 18 in time for dinner that evening.

All went well going ‘down’ and back, until having passed through Macclesfield, bridge no. 33, past the winding hole and the first of the three bridge ‘holes’, when there was an almighty ‘BANG’’ and the engine stopped immediately. Now drifting helplessly in the middle of the canal with no engine, a couple of tries had failed to re-start it, and little rudder movement (as it was soon discovered) meant we just had to let the bows run up onto the bottom on the towpath side and make futile attempts to pole the stern in too, out of the way of any passing traffic; but it just kept on drifting out again.

With the Mate on lookout duty for oncoming boats, there weren’t any as it turned out, I lifted the weed hatch to be greeted by a large piece of tree branch, at least 4” (102mm) in diameter firmly wedged by the propeller diagonally across my vision. Trying to ascertain its length I felt both ways along the branch finding one end, the one pointing into the ‘swim’, or towards the boat about a foot (305mm) past the weed hatch opening, the other end just went on beyond my reach, even when leaning rather dangerously over the stern. Using the boats club hammer, then a mooring pin, then both together, I failed to shift it at all. It was very evident that one of the propeller blades was well imbedded into the wood (at least 12 – 15mm) and the wood was jammed hard up onto the underside of the ‘swim’.

Finally, by using the boat pole I was able to just about get it past the branch and diagonally over the keel / skeg and by pulling almost to breaking point (of the pole and my own) it suddenly freed and, before I could grab it, the branch drifted off and down, never to be seen again!

We sincerely hope that other boats manage to avoid it as it could do serious damage to less sturdy propellers than the Axiom one that we have fitted. Careful examination of the prop determined that it was completely none-the-worse for the experience.

Omitted from the above tale of the fouled prop was the third and final, as it turned out, ‘misadventure’.

Here, too, I must apologise to Pam, Geoff, David & Joan for not relating this last matter to them over our meal that evening. I felt it was not the ‘right’ subject to discuss over dinner, that I wanted to save our further blushes, but that I also wanted to save something for this article, which I had already decided needed writing, that they are unaware of. (Sorry!)

Whilst I was wrestling with the tree branch the Mate came up from the cabin to inform me: ‘Darling – we have another problem! Oh great, I thought, whatever else could go wrong? ‘Okay’, I said –‘what now?’

You all know, I’m sure, that that one question should never be asked – the answer is always one you just do not want to hear!

‘The toilet’s broken’ came the frightening response. ‘Now the effluent really has hit the fan’ I thought.

No’orseman is fitted with only one such item, a Thetford cassette type with electric flush plumbed into the water and 12 volt electrical systems. For the benefit of those of you unfamiliar with them the Thetfords have a lever arrangement that opens, and closes, the seal on the cassette immediately below the aperture in the bottom of the toilet pan allowing the waste ‘material’ to drop through then be re- sealed against odours etc.

Well, during a call of nature, the Mate went to use the lever only to find that it was no longer attached to the control mechanism (Oh joy!)

Sorry if this is all too much information and you are feeling rather squeamish at this stage but I feel I must emphasise quite clearly the impact that such a situation is likely to have on us.

Having cleared the prop I was now forced to investigate the problem with the toilet. Upon close, or as close as I dare given the circumstances, examination of the inner workings of the ‘loo’ it was obvious that the connection point of the lever to the turning mechanism that operates the cassette seal had broken off completely and was beyond repair(?!?!** ****).

We now faced the prospect of having to go cross-legged for the long spells between sanitary points, pubs and other shore-based places with toilet facilities, until

Having known for many years that our two brains combined make one pretty good one, we both came up with the idea, simultaneously, of using the small bucket (actually a plaster repair product container enjoying a second life) we have on board and used when cleaning the windows etc., which, as it turned out, fitted just right below the bowl of the toilet thereby enabling its use.

It did mean, however, that the said bucket then had to be emptied into the cassette which could no longer be used in the toilet but which could have the seal opened and closed by hand.

(Perhaps this could be considered an adaptation of the old and once famed ‘Buckit & Chuckit’ disposal system?)

The cassette was placed in the shower tray, opposite the toilet – just in case!

In this state we returned to bridge 18 and the dinner party that evening, and thence back to Furness Vale Marina on Sunday without further incident.

 

Update:

The toilet has now been completely replaced, the old one being 17 years old, and because the broken part could not be replaced anyway.

The gas is working well, in fact it is noticeably better than before, which suggests that the auto-changeover has been gradually failing for quite some time.

The propeller too seems somehow better than before its argument with the branch, maybe that has more to do with the fact that, as well as the branch, I also removed some string and remnants of a plastic bag from the shaft, whilst down the weed hatch.

 

Our proposed five days of R & R on’t boat once again turned into an (mis)Adventure.

Still, what else would I have to write about – or you to read?

 

Happy Boating – One ‘n’ All.

 

Skipper & Mate of No’orseman.

Some images below may help to illustrate the above!