At the peak of our waterway travels we averaged over 2,000 kilometers (1250 miles) a season, some 500 hours of engine time, for 5 consecutive years travelling through first England and then France. That was until we reached the south of France where, inevitably, we slowed down to half that pace for a couple of years and enjoyed the warmth and the sunshine. This last year in 2018 we almost ground to a halt on our return to England and have only travelled for 125 hours, barely covering 600kms (370 miles) up and down the Thames – remarkably though still enjoying warmth and sunshine for this last summer at least!
We hadn’t planned on quite such a dramatic slowdown – it was the quietest year in Xenia’s now 10 years on the water. Like us, she is beginning to feel her age and we had decided to take a year’s mooring at The Thames and Kennet Marina to catch our breath and get ourselves re-established into a home address ashore and to take advantage of nearby technicians to give Xenia (and ourselves) a thorough health check in all departments. On both scores it has been slow but steady progress but this has taken a lot of waiting time to get things done – booking service visits, waiting for parts, NHS appointments – keeping us moored up at base and not able to get away for a prolonged cruise.
|Licence fees||Mooring costs||Insurance||Diesel – litres used||Engine hours||Km travelled|
|2014||£206 + €509||£474+€1,339||£582||1,333||550||2,280|
When we initially discussed the option of a life afloat Pam wasn’t sure about the prospect but generously gave it the benefit of the doubt for a trial of 10 years. We have enjoyed every minute of it (well bar a few choice moments) but the time for a review is upon us!
Some of the few choice moments that we haven’t enjoyed so much have often involved mechanical breakdown of one sort or another. There is a lot of equipment on a boat to go wrong! Here is the list of servicing and repairs for 2018;
4 new sacrificial anodes (£400), Boat Safety Certificate and Gas check (£350), Webasto burner tube replacement and domestic heating service (£485); parts and servicing for Stovax multi-fuel stove (£200); replacement of gas cooker (£400); replacement of faulty battery monitor and electrical checks (£670); new domestic batteries and wiring (£1460); regular engine service including flushing keel cooling system and fresh anti-freeze (£440); refurbishing the Travelpower alternator (£848); new fan belts (£80); replacing the electric immersion heater (£250).
So, all should be in good order mechanically but after a neighbouring boat’s flying solar panel in a recent high wind scraped across our roof, taking some paint with it, I am once again reminded of all the paintwork that needs touching up (or more than just touching up). Sanding and rust treatment and painting I find to be a chore because as soon as you have done it, it needs doing again – and I just wish someone else would do it!
Our plans for 2019 are a work in progress. Firstly we have to sell our house (now under offer) to pay off the mortgage (before we reach 70) and downsize with the difference so that we have a secure land base, hopefully here in Caversham. Then we have to decide whether to keep Xenia (the considerable Thames mooring and licensing costs will no doubt be the big factor) or whether to look for a new source of entertainment. We are already missing being ‘on the move’ so perhaps a change of pace on wheels might be on the cards with some visits to places we haven’t been able to reach by boat and some flying re-visits to some of the places we have – Brexit permitting. From the day of the referendum result, when we were deep in the Gers region of France, we have been preparing for a ‘hard Brexit’ (although the Minister of Tourism for the Region did personally assure us on the day that we would always be welcome in the Gers to enjoy ‘the slow life’) and my forecast then of a no-deal still seems to be a safe bet!.
Only time will tell….