We got down to Harwich and had an eventful weekend, catching up with old and new pals, and a few adventures besides.
Last Friday morning, Clive’s birthday, the generator went on the blink. A freezer load of food dictated that we get it sorted as soon as possible. The guts of the boat were duly ripped apart, I’ll rephrase… taken apart gracefully with all pieces carefully placed where we would remember where they go. Finally the generator cover comes off after much yanking and shunting. It took another 20 minutes to find the starter motor, then to find something solid, long and thin that could reach that far, and hit the other end of this with a hammer a few times, to no avail.
Clive called in Phil Cuthbert, Harwich engineer superman, who cut short his sailing to spin over to Ha’penny Pier. After clambering aboard, it took him 3 seconds to locate the offending earth wire, where the horseshoe end had come adrift of the starter motor. Hurrah! An hour and a half later after careful reassembly (where’s that bolt go? What’s this bit? Should this be here?) we were back to normal, showered and ready for the birthday dinner at Thai up at the Quay, followed by a lovely walk along the beach, finishing off in The New Bell Inn.
The following morning we had coffee, tea, pastries and macaroons with a few of our neighbours aboard, and an old pal Fiona came up for the weekend. Then lo and behold the generator packed in once more. This time it was the sea water which stopped getting to the pump. Seaweed up the pipes removed, however the damage was done as we had run the pump dry. These pumps aboard these boats have things called Impellers, and we have a box full of spares. Realising that once more we’d have to dismantle the interior of the boat, remove the pump, replace the impeller and refit all over again, which takes about 6 hours, we called it a day and sailed to Levington at the mouth of the Orwell River, where we could plug into the mains to keep the freezer frozen and recharge all the batteries, including our own.
By Monday evening we were exhausted from the constant repairs and ready to chill down, planning to get back on the River Stour the next day. Our good friends Chris & Libby Mannion were at Levington, Chis staying most of the week, however on Tuesday the wind blew a cold hoolie through the marina and we decided to hunker down. This was just as well…
Clive’s sister called him on Monday as his mum was in hospital with suspected pneumonia, and she was doing fine. Tuesday lunch they spoke and Florence was in good form, responding well to the drugs and eating her lunch. I went with Chris to the Ship Inn in Levington village for dinner and Clive was going to meet us later after having a snooze, however he turned up on his bicycle about half an hour later, very upset, as his mum had died suddenly at about 7pm.
So now Distant Drum is in Harwich again, on a beautiful hot day, too hot for painting inside the doghouse (aka cockpit), which I rather stupidly decided was a good idea to do, instead of sunbathing.
I am making sure everything ticks over aboard, terrified that the generator is going to pack up again, or a north westerly wind is going to suddenly veer down the Stour, obliging me to get off the Quay alone (not an easy thing to do) whilst Clive has driven to Somerset to meet up with his siblings and plunge into the inescapable emotional and administrative necessities that go with death. He has by far the worse task.
Rain is apparently on its way and I need to go up top and put the cockpit cover on, a hard task as our old one has been steadily falling to pieces over the last two years and we’ve just commissioned a new one from Steve Curle, aka Curly, the Harwich boat covers superman (he reads this so I have to say nice things….) This was fitted last night and is a complete bastard to clip in for the first few days. Trouble is if I ring him to come & help, he’ll answer pretending to be foreign….
It’s a lovely evening and I just watched the ferry Stena Hollandica motor past, arriving from Hoek van Holland. It reminded me of when I travelled round the world from 1990 to 1993, when I was so able to sit back and relax, and appreciate the moment, absorbing what I saw and heard, and appreciating it all. Too many intervening years working in a seriously stressed state, constant pressure and sleepless nights, waking up with my mind racing. I would find myself keeping a notebook by the bed so I could write the worries, ideas and lists down as they woke me, then I’d seek something else to take my mind away from the anguish, in the form of puzzles or books, which of course would wake me right up. It’s been over two busy years since I finished my job, yet I still haven’t got out of the habit of feeling I have to fill my mind constantly. I am however a whole lot more unstrung and know that we’re both so lucky, we’re good apart and we’re even better together, and we’re going to be just fine, even in the most scary moments.
The rain has now started and it’s pissing it down, so I’m signing off sitting in the doghouse admiring the new cover, waiting for the stiches to expand and cut out any leaking. It’s lovely and light with big windows and the view is grey and still beautiful.
Until next week – where will we be? Probably still in Harwich!!!