Day 17, Tuesday 13th July: No more spanners in the works, please!
Godmanchester to Great Paxton
Distance travelled: 10 miles
Progress towards destination: 6.5 miles and 3 locks
Boat garb is usually casual, often grubby, chosen for messing about in boats. Last night’s Chinese Takeaway was brought on board by friend in a pin-striped suit and tie, he too having suffered a breakdown experience, his on the bus from Cambridge to Godmanchester. But our mood was instantly improved, wine, wine glasses and napkins were assembled and the evening took on a lighter tone. Sombre thoughts later though – when would we be able to resume our journey? Some brass cleaning therapy was applied.
Plans had been laid for me to house-sit to await the Royal Mail Special Delivery package, promised by 1pm. Wonderfully, it was delivered just after 9am and Ken liased with our friend to carry it (all 7.5 kilos of it) back to the boat. Apparently, this parcel passing was observed by another boater, who sagely pronounced “BOAT= Bring Out Another Thousand…” Glug. So we were now equipped with a replacement centreflex coupling – all that was needed was the expertise to fit it. Throughout the night Ken had plotted to do so if no engineer could be found. At
10 am a further call to the insurance breakdown callout line (the deal supposedly provides an engineer within four hours) produced no joy, apart from a lot of wasted time. However, we could ring local boatyards. Within an hour of calling Daylock Marine a lithe and oily engineer was clambering, emptyhanded, through the nettles, having arrived in a small boat and tied up behind us. The deed was slow, telephone support was given from our Agony Engineer who has had intimate dealings with the very bowels of our engine compartment – and then done! Just before 1pm propellor shaft and gearbox were reconnected, and we revved up, turned round and retraced yesterday’s waters as far as Hartford to pay the bill and have the bolts tightened by a torque wrench.
Breaking down in such a civilised place as Godmanchester did bring on some Pollyanna-type thoughts: I am glad that we broke down in Godmanchester
because the park is pretty;
because the One Stop Shop is 5 minutes away;
because the Chinese Takeaway and the fish and chip shop are 3 minutes away;
because the elegant litterbins in the park have wide openings for rubbish;
because we had an accommodation address for a Special Delivery …
(However, we’d both preferred not to have had that unscheduled eventuality!)
And now, three locks and some heavy rain later we are moored on GOBA (Great Ouse Boating Association) moorings alongside Little Paxton nature reserve; across the river trains thunder past on the London – Peterborough line. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we head for Great Barford, where we shall lick our wounds – and continue polishing the boat.*
* Some polishing of roof and bow was achieved this morning during the coupling-fitting operation: can you tell which side of the roof has been polished…?!