A new-ish Alternator and Slippery Crew

After the crushing disappointment of Sunday, this has been the longest week I can remember.  The Owl has been working hell for leather to get the engine part we needed in time to leave Barking on Monday, when our skipper and crew have said they’re next free. 
It turns out our lovely Volvo Penta engine is not as doddery as initially suspected – thankfully the ‘dodgy’ fuel pump is in fact fine, it was just an air lock.  After two hours of expert tinkering on Sunday night by our friend T and engine man P however, the alternator was still screwed: putting out waaaay too much voltage.  Something needed doing.  To be fair, it is over 30 years old.  
As such, they don’t make them like they used to, so Plan B of getting it reconditioned wasn’t going to work out as the parts were likely to be so hard to get hold of, so back to Plan A we went to find a replacement. 

By Tuesday, the Owl had found a knowledgeable man called Steve from London Essex Auto Electrics who had another more recent Penta alternator that would probably do. 

By Thursday night, he’d been to Steve’s (armed with photos of all the connections to make sure the new one would fit and he’d know how to reconnect it), swapped the alternators, and run the engine for the requisite 2 hours without stalling. What a hero – we were ready to go, two days early. 

Here is what success looked like from the outside: 

And from the inside: 

Sadly our jubilation was short lived – precisely two hours in fact – before we checked our email to discover that our skipper had decided he could not now afford us 24 hours on Monday/ Tuesday after all.  He might be able to manage Friday… Or maybe (we’re away on Friday) mid July…?
I deleted the email quickly to prevent myself from causing an unfortunate occurrence.  First thing Friday morning we started looking for a new skipper. 
We have now found a skipper who will not only get us where we need to go when we need to get there, but will also teach us how to drive her so that we don’t find ourselves in this pickle again. All we need then is a VHF radio and license, and we’ll be golden.  Maybe being let down (twice) by our original crew is no bad thing in the end…  



Boat Insurance Shenanigans

After all the dust has settled, and we’re lying back on our freshly painted deck in the sunshine with a cool glass of rose and the mellow magic of Bob Marley or similar drifting gently out across the glimmering waves, we will have fun tales to tell about all the shenanigans this week.

Brace yourselves for the longest sentence in the world.

Between: the Mortgage People (who need: proof of insurance, survey report, surveyor’s valuation, proof of mooring, boat safety certificate (only if needed by mooring provider), photos of the boat to fill in the unanswered questions from the survey, and our proposal for dealing with survey recommendations before they’ll release the funds after the statutory 7 day cooling-off period once it’s in the UK) and the various Insurance People (one of whom will insure the boat, contents and crossing but whose excess is excessive, won’t cover The Thing and won’t accept monthly direct debit, but whom R has a relationship with and has gone ahead and confirmed the crossing cover with (without consulting us); another of whom is cheaper, less than half the excess (same payout), will insure The Thing and will accept DD, but has some weird personal vendetta against our skipper so won’t insure the crossing (which has to be attached to an annual policy), and a third of whom will only insure us 3rd party until we’ve addressed all the survey recommendations and won’t do the crossing) – we’ll leave the mooring providers off this list as they’ve been hassle-free and don’t need the BSC which is a vast, nightmare-saving relief – this week has been quite stressful.

Having spent the last 3 days finding time between full-on day-jobs to chase up the survey and mooring agreement, and call around the DBA‘s list of insurers (I take it all back, they are amazing and I love them), we have concluded that the only viable option is the original one, and we’ll just have to suck it all up and insure The Thing separately, which is again more expensive. We’ll probably revise it all next year when there aren’t weird blood feuds to contend with, but for now it’s the best plan and the Owl confirmed our submission today.

As soon as I’ve recovered my composure, I’m going to do a post on realistic timelines and costs of this process for others’ future reference. I’ll also do one with our list of London residential moorings.

In other news: we moved out of Dalston and into M’s yesterday in what has to be the least stressful move ever undertaken (by me, at least). Having moved all our belongings with the help of two charming Polish fellows into the Big Yellow next door to our new mooring, we spent most of the afternoon on our soon-to-be ex-front step, drinking beer in the sunshine and reading the papers until M got home to let us in around 6pm. A great Dalston send-off.

Stage #1: complete.

Over and out.


Cat On Board

On the subject of establishing our 3.5year old cat Oscar on the boat:

A bit of research on the DBA’s ‘Barge Life’ forum (especially for the purpose of discussing domestic boating issues – as opposed to all other boating issues practical and mechanical), as well as a timely article in this month’s BlueFlag (the DBA members’ magazine), has revealed that the best thing one can do for one’s boat-bound feline is to:

A) Furnish him with a “Loc8or” on his collar, which emits a loud noise/ bright light when you press the button on your monitor to locate him. Clearly only for use in moments of sincere panic as to his whereabouts. If he survives the shock it’ll help me find him, wherever he is. Or let’s face it even if he doesn’t. http://www.loc8tor.com/uk/pets/

B) Put a “cat ladder” over the side of the boat for him to climb up should he fall in. This is a rather more poetic (and cheap) solution, comprising a decent rope with knots tied every 30cm or so.

And my own addition: keep him inside for as long as possible, but when he’s ready to go out just leave him to get on with it. He’s a cat. More to the point, he’s a scaredy cat. He won’t put himself in danger if he can possibly help it. Which is where the ladder and loc8or comes in.