Thursday, 31 May 2012

Not A Great Start!

Thanks to the slow moving and pretty incompetent Maritime & Coastguard Agency, we were delayed in setting off on our trip by several days, which seemed like several weeks.

Before we left we needed the all important Part 1 Registration Certificate, which proves we own the boat and has to produced to foreign maritime authorities. Their website was not entirely clear on what forms were needed in our situation and what the fee would be, so Stephen rang to check, explaining the circumstances carefully, then sent what they requested.

There then followed several weeks of waiting, chasing, being sent more forms, replacement forms and requests for further fees. None of which had been requested or even mentioned in that original phone call.

Finally, we got so fed up waiting, we agreed to pay their "expedition fee" of £180.00. Still no certificate. Next day, still no certificate. Had they sent it recorded or special delivery? No, apparently "expedition" only means first class post. Would they issue a duplicate? No.

It finally turned up, three days late, having been sent by second class post. I have asked for my £180.00 back. They haven't replied yet.

Anyway, we were, at last, underway!

A wonderful trip in glorious sunshine from Caversham, through Henley, on to Windsor (stopping for a trip on the Windsor Wheel - wonderful!) then to Kingston-upon-Thames, where my Dad met us (having driven to ours to collect the Certificate I talk about above - thanks Dad!).

 Emma waiting to go on the Windsor Wheel

The Windsor Wheel - 60 metres high

We planned to leave Kingston at about 7am the next morning, get through Teddington lock, onto the Tidal Thames and then through Richmond lock. We had a mooring space booked at South Dock Marina, but you can only enter two hours either side of high tide, so we needed to make good time to get there, as it's about 4-5 hours from Kingston.

So, we were up early, only to find thick mist. Couldn't see a thing. So, we waited nervously for half an hour and it cleared a bit. We were underway but our 30 minute contingency was gone.

On to Teddington lock, and the engine starts to heat up. And get hotter. And hotter. We get through the lock and the engine won't switch off. We repeatedly press the stop buttons. Nothing. Stephen climbed into the engine area and switched off the fuel. Still it kept running. He stopped the air getting to the engine but that didn't stop it either. Finally he located the stop lever buried on the side of the engine itself and that did the trick.

Luckily, we have a wing-engine, so we limped, with considerable difficultly, to Swan Island Boatyard where we moored next to Simon & Nunzia's Dutch Barge and the wonderful Joe Eves came straight aboard and spent the whole morning fixing the boat with Stephen.

Stephen fixing the boat

Apparently the two problems were completely unconnected and it was just bad luck that they happened together. The overheating was caused by a disintegrating impeller (although what caused that, we don't know) and the non-stopping engine by an electrical fault.

Simon & Nunzia kindly offered to let us moor against them overnight; an offer which we gratefully accepted!

Simon & Nunzia's Dutch barge

Next stop - right through Central London!

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