Sunday 18 November 2012

Aston Marina

Stone to Aston Marina : 2 miles, 2 locks
Total to date : 130 miles, 95 locks, 20 lift bridges, 7 tunnels, 6 aqueducts

We have our Eberspacher heating on a timer so it comes on at 5.30am.  Then the boat will be warm when we get up.  This morning when we woke, we noticed the light on the heating panel was on and counting down the time but the boat was still cold.

I scrambled down off the bed and turned it off and back on again.... still nothing.

Out came the boat bible.  We shuffled paper, googled error codes, pressed buttons.... still nothing.

We contacted Roger... again.  He made some suggestions.  More button pressing... still nothing.

So, it was on to plan B.  Roger gave us contact details of someone who can help us, and after a wander around town and some lunch we made our way down the last couple of locks to Aston Marina.  We have a little fan heater that we bought while we were at Aqueduct Marina but we can't use it without mains electricity available.  Even then we can't use the electric kettle at the same time.  We figured we were better off in the marina with heating and could always come back to Stone again.

It was rather disappointing to be leaving Stone already.  We'd planned a few more days yet.  Plus, Ray and Diane from nb Ferndale were driving back from their holiday away and would be picking up their boat from just back along the canal a little.  We were hoping to meet up with them.

At the bridge before the last lock there was a sign showing access to the marina so we moored up and I walked there to find out just where we were to moor once we got inside the marina basin.  As I headed back towards the boat I saw a single handler tying his boat to go up the lock.  I had told Mick on my walkie talkie to start on towards the lock so I said to the fellow that we were coming down.  The lock was full and in our favour.  I hurried along to get back to the bridge and around, by which time Mick was already at the lock and I could hear the fellow on the other boat letting the water out of the lock!  Bit selfish I thought.  Even so, I told him to stay on board and I'd work the lock for him.  He jumped off once his boat was at a closer level to the bank to chat and then leapt back on board once I started opening the gate.  There wasn't a word about not waiting for us to come into the lock.  Strange fellow.

While we were working the lock for the second time, we began discussing strategy for getting into the marina and reversing onto our berth.  It was a rather daunting thought with all those other boats everywhere.  Plus it would be the first time we've had to do this.  At Swanley they just helped us pull the boat around into a mooring just around from the loo pumpout (when we moored there with a blocked loo). 

Mick did a great job getting into the marina and then there were a couple of attempts at getting into a good position to reverse into a very narrow spot.  Tensions were high but the second try was much better.  I was poised to leap onto the pontoon, rope in hand, at the very first possibility.  At least then I could haul the boat against the pontoon.  It would be nice if we could remember just how it went so we could repeat it next time.

While in the marina office sorting out the paperwork a lady came in.  As we turned to leave she said "Are you Elly?"...well... yes!  It turns out Claire is a blog reader and recognized us from our photos on the blog... or maybe from our Aussie accents.  I've just had a read of Claire's blog.  She and her husband have bought nb Foxglove.  So hello to Claire, we'll look forward to seeing you again sometime.

Once we were properly sorted we decided to walk around to the other side of the marina and say hello to Elaine on nb Caxton.  It turns out that our "key fob" which opens the gate on our pontoon does not open the gates to any of the other pontoons.  We walked along the fenceline to where Caxton was moored and could see that the side hatch doors were open.  We called out and coo-eed but Elaine didn't hear us.  Eventually we walked back to the marina office and asked if they'd ring Elaine and tell her we were there.  We walked back round and Elaine came to let us in.  We had a cup of tea, a dog pat, and a chat.  Nice to see you Elaine!

It was dusk as we walked all the way round to get back to the boat.  We're not all that far from nb Caxton but the marina entrance is in between. 

After arriving at the marina, I had sent a text to Diane to let them know we were no longer moored in Stone.  I'd had a missed call later this afternoon and it turned out to be from Diane.  They had been heading for the marina too, and not all that far behind us, but had broken down.  Now they were forced to moor overnight a mile or so away... and it turns out they have no heating either!  Their heating unit has been sent away for servicing.  Hope they're not too cold tonight.  The engine man will hopefully get them on their way in the morning.

Elaine kindly lent us a little column heater so we're warm enough... and... we've been treated to a fireworks display in the distance. 

Not many today :
1. Old Stone post office
2. nb Parisien Star leaving our Stone mooring in the distance
3. Another amazing canal side property
4. And some that look like gingerbread houses

In the drink to date : Elly - phone charger (retrieved - it floated!), Mick - sunglasses, Mick - hearth brush, Mick - mooring hook (retrieved with sea searcher), Mick - reading glasses

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