Whenever anyone writes an article about boat life – which they do with alarming frequency and are presumably usually underpaid for – they will invariably begin their piece with that old Wind in the Willows quote we all know and love:
“…there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
This – is misinformation.
In fact, there are several hundred things more worth doing than messing about in boats. Reading, for example, or watching films. Or having baths. Or being clean. Or having electricity.
I can tell you from experience, dear reader, that the joy of messing about in boats is severely depleted when you have to do it every day or it’s a Thursday morning and the engine has broken down AGAIN and you have a casting to get to and tons of work to do and no power or hot water. AGAIN.
As you may or may not know, depending on whether you’re a stranger or one of the many people I complain to on a daily basis, Albion’s been a bit poorly of late.
It all started ages ago when we noticed that the engine wasn’t sounding great and decided to be super proactive and ignore it for a few months because the sound was the sound of something that sounded expensive.
Unfortunately, engines don’t take too kindly to being ignored when they’re feeling ill so – partly to punish us and partly in the spirit of Halloween – ours promptly died.
Luckily, Ed is somewhat of a dab hand at being pretty darn smart (and making things up as he goes along) and so – with assistance from my mum’s ever patient partner, the kindness of CRT to allow us to stay put for a while, and several hundreds of pounds worth of parts – he managed to get the old beast going again.
Very good, you might think. Nicely done. Off you pop then, you might say. Job’s a goodun, or something to that effect.
But oh, dear reader, you’ve been reading this blog long enough to know that wouldn’t be the end of it, right? (Unless you haven’t in which case please feel free to travel back through my posts and enjoy other instances of me complaining. There are quite a few about poo, sorry.)
You didn’t think we’d be boating off into the sunset happily ever after did you?
You must not be a boat owner then.
No, what OBVIOUSLY happened is that, after a month or so of being absolutely fine, the engine suddenly become extremely and tenaciously not fine again (are you enjoying how much my engineering knowledge has come on after four years of living on a boat?).
I went to run the engine one day to top up our batteries and, while it started up okay, it very sadly petered out soon afterwards. Remembering the old rule of boat engineering, I vaguely wiggled some stuff that was on and around the engine but it was all to no avail.
At this stage we had exhausted our collective engineering knowledge, which is 100% contributed to by Ed, and had to turn to The Experts.
The Expert this time being the lovely Darren at Cow Roast Marina who already knew us from when he fitted a very good and extremely electric-y invertor on our boat a few moons hence and therefore agreed to take a look at the engine for us.
BUT THERE WAS A CATCH.
Darren’s tools live in Cow Roast Marina. Albion was not in Cow Roast Marina. Albion was one lock below Cow Roast Marina and currently without the engine that was required to get her into Cow Roast Marina.
Which brings me neatly back to the futility of messing about in boats. You see, there was a way we could get Albion to the marina on time: via the extremely scientific technique of dragging. And also punting. And then dragging and punting some more.
I can tell you now that it was about as fun and easy as the last time we had to drag the boat somewhere.
I only wish I’d had my phone to capture the moment Ed discovered his vocation as a world-class gondolier. Having left me on dry land so that I could have a rope thrown at me once the boat had been steered to our desired landing point, Ed punted like a Cambridge University degree depended on it. Occasionally he nearly fell in. My heart, if not quite in my mouth, was certainly higher than is biologically normal. It was like watching The Fast and the Furious in slow motion. It was The Slow and the Furious.
I also discovered at this juncture that I am a first-rate backseat punter. I could see, from my safe place on dry towpath, exactly how the boat ought to be punted right a bit or left a bit here and there. I occasionally helpfully yelled that Ed should avoid crashing into other nearby boats.
After being stoically ignored for several minutes, I decided to shut up.
Finally, after one lock, a tension-filled punt, and much top end muscle work (One Carli-and-Edpower is equivalent to about the same as one three-legged-horsepower), we rode triumphantly – if glacially – into Cow Roast Marina.
You’ll be glad to hear that Darren was then able to diagnose the problem and begin the long process of sourcing the correct parts to fix it (summin about fuel pumps?). You’ll be equally pleased to hear that we’ll only be without electricity and hot water for just a few weeks this time!
Until next time readers, although you’ll probably smell me before then.
p.s. OPPORTUNITY: Are you a reader who also happens to be a millionaire? Would you like to be part of a unique opportunity to a) Give us heaps of money to fix up Albion or b) Buy us a house? If this sounds like you – get in touch with me in the comments!