Thursday, 18 October 2012

Caveat Emptor!

I'm no Latin scholar, but even I know that "caveat emptor" means "Let the buyer beware":  It's sound advice.
Starcross has been joined on her "temporary" mooring by another stranded boat - but one stranded for a very different reason. The owners of the boat (which ought to remain nameless) are very nice people but very new to boating and, I think they would agree, somewhat naive. Their story, however, deserves to be told in full - as it was told to me -  if only as a warning to others.

It began earlier this year when, having decided to take up canal boating as a hobby, they did what was probably the only sensible thing they've done so far and went looking for a mooring before they bought a boat. Unfortunately, the mooring they found and liked was already occupied - by a boat that was for sale! Although the boat was not to their taste they bought it anyway just to get the mooring. Shortly after handing over the money they realised that there were in fact vacancies at the mooring site that would have been theirs for the asking. 

Undeterred, they sold the boat they didn't want in the first place and got another - a 40ft cruiser-stern narrowboat - THAT THEY BOUGHT ON EBAY!  This is where things really started to go wrong. After just two days cruising the engine seized. They went back to the seller and negotiated a refund of half the cost of a replacement refurbished engine. But they couldn't find a suitable refurbishment and had to stump up for a new one. They didn't replace the gearbox and that promptly failed on their next trip.  At this stage the boat was on the Calder and Hebble and their new mooring was on the Llangollen. Their chosen route was via the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and during the passage of Standedge Tunnel the guard rails around the stern were badly damaged. (I could see why: at their widest point they extended well beyond the cabin sides, which wouldn't have been obvious to a new steerer).

On the Macclesfield Canal the alternator fell off!  At least in this instance the boatyard that had fitted the new engine put it's hand up and came out to put it back on. Then - and the reason they now share a mooring with Starcross - after another couple of days the new engine seized as well!!  By now they were members - and very good customers - of River Canal Rescue, who came out and diagnosed the cause as an oil filter that had been improperly fitted, causing a slow leakage of oil out of the engine. Needless to say the engine supplier and the boatyard that fitted it both deny any responsibility leaving them with no alternative but to tie the boat up and go home until it can all be sorted out.

I've had my fair share of problems with Starcross over the years - including a knackered engine - but it's hard to image a more traumatic introduction to boating than this.


Amy said...

Did you ever read the beginning of our boating adventures back in 2008, Jim? We had a propellor shaft that came disconnected from the engine and once reconnected kept coming loose, a starter motor failure, and to top it all off, the tiller fell off leaving us without power, or steerage, worse than a butty. Thankfully other Jim (from Chertsey, but Warrior at the time) was towing us otherwise we'd have been stuck in Windsor, or worse, Brentford. But then we were under tow on a very fast flowing Nene and smashed the side of the cabin on Fotheringay bridge...

Ahh, fond memories!

Anonymous said...

Amy, Yes I remember reading your blog from those early days. I was impressed by how you coped with it all and didn't let it get you down!

No Direction said...

It's a hard way to learn it but lesson number 1. Check the oil and coolant level every morning before starting the engine.