Slow Departure to Netherlands

After being delayed for lock closures and then a month of non stop rain leaving the river too fast to navigate,we finally departed Thames and Kennet Marina near Reading on 20th April. Arriving at the first lock Sonning the engine was overheating. The header tank was dry with no visible sign of water loss around the engine or into the engine oil.

John the lock keeper was fantastic and called an engineer, Mark from Tiller and Keel maintenance. Mark arrived 30 minutes later. He checked the engine and came to the optinion that the Water cooling box had probably failed. This is similar to a car radiator but instead of air passing through the pipes its water. This required pressure testing to confirm and if necessary the boat would have to come out of the water to replace. The hoist at Thames and Kennet is out of service so no point going back.

I limped slowly to Henley leaving the pressure cap off and regularly nipping into the engine room to keep the coolant tank topped up. All on yellow boards and single handed. Oh the stress. Whilst in henley I re-routed the pipes on the box and tested the pressure. Sure enough the pressure dropped quickly.

Pipers had a spare in the factory which Vinne from Pipers dropped off on his way to the Piper show in France.

Next problem find somewhere to lift the boat out and replace the unit. Piper had been recently lifted a new boat in at Racecourse marina Windsor. A call and they very helpfully gave us a lift slot for a few days time. Jo joined me at Henley and we cruised from Henley to the marina in 2 days continuing to replace the coolant. The coolant top up required over the 2 days was 15 litres and getting worse.

Mark the Manager at Racecourse gave me helpful instructions to reach the hoist which is located at the far end of the small and full marina after negotiating a very tight 1km inlet channel.

At 0900 the hoist team lifted Angela Dawn out of the water and placed her on the hardstanding still in the straps. Mark (Engineer) took around 2 hours to replace the cooling box. The box cooling pipes showed signs of corrosion and very rusty water inside. When I’ve time I’ll jet wash the old tube system, suspend it and fill with water to see where it is leaking.

Angela Dawn was put back in the water with the system filled. Engine run to expell any air and all done. We have now completed a 6 hour cruise downstream with no loss of water.

This was quite a major problem for us but made so much easier thanks to:

John, Lock Keeper at Sonning

Mark ( ) for exceptional service.

For those on the Thames, Mark provides a maintenance and service membership scheme. He’s based in Sonning but will travel. I would highly reccomend Mark and will certainly be taking up his service plan when we return to the Thames.

Mark Pearce and his team at Racecourse Marina Windsor ( Lift and Hold cost £550 )

As always fantastic support and advice from David and Simon Piper with special thanks to Vinnie for extending his journey to France to drop of the parts. Support that is one of the many reasons Piper boats are so popular.

5 thoughts on “Slow Departure to Netherlands

  1. Morning Dean,
    Hope all is well with yourself, Jo and the mutts .
    Well you’ve certainly had an adventurous start to your journey!
    Hopefully all goes well now and it’s plain sailing from now on !!
    When do you make the crossing over the channel.
    I’ll try and follow your progress on my app.
    Cheers for now,

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Reading about your travails I’m reminded how often with boat problems you are dependent on the ‘kindness of strangers’. It quite restores one’s faith in human nature.
    Steve (OYA)


  3. Best that it happened whilst in the safe confines of the upper Thames rather than halfway across The Channel,


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