Sunday, 12 December 2010

Cold Enough to Stop the Clocks?

Starcross on her mooring at Norbury Jc on Friday
Live-aboard boaters have been suffering this past couple of weeks, not least those who are also "continuous cruisers" (i.e. have no fixed mooring) whose degree of discomfort has to a large extent depended on where they happened to be when the cold weather began and the canals iced over. Sue and Vic's experiences on No Problem are, perhaps, typical.
But spare a thought for those of us who don't live on our boats. At least those who live aboard are immediately aware of any problems and can take steps to rectify them. Even better, their very presence prevents many problems from arising in the first place. 
It's only natural to worry about a boat; after all, what else would you spend your life savings on and then leave lying around in an over-sized ditch in the middle of nowhere seventy miles away from home? 
I had taken some precautions: the water tank had been drained and as much of the piping as I can reach had been lagged. The new water heater had also been drained (we lost the old one two winter's ago due to frost damage) and Norbury Wharf had just completed an engine service that had included a change of antifreeze but it had been so cold (down to
 -17C) at Norbury for so long that I was beginning to have my doubts. Last year we'd also had trouble with melting snow from the roof finding its way through the mushroom vents or the pigeon box and onto the bed. So it was with a great sense of trepidation that I headed to Norbury last Friday. I needn't have worried: the engine started first time and ran sweetly for a couple of hours to put some life back in the batteries. There was no obvious sign of damage to the water system (although we won't know for sure until we re-fill it in the Spring), no sign of melting snow inside and the only thing untoward was the clock - which appeared to have suddenly become four-and-half hours slow!
The saloon clock at 12.55hrs, precisely!
I thought at first that it had just stopped, which was odd as the battery is new, but I soon realised that it was not only still going, but keeping perfect time. I can only conclude that at some stage over the last week or two it became cold enough aboard to actually stop the clocks!
Actually, the worst of it was over by Friday and it was a balmy 2C at Norbury. There was still plenty of ice in the cut though and not many moving boats.
Starcross is the fifth boat along on the off-side 

The ice has been broken but has frozen again at Norbury Wharf
Like many other boaters my plans for a bit of pre-Christmas boating have had to be abandoned, but I'm relieved to know that I'll still have a serviceable boat once the warmer weather returns.

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