I don’t think we’ve ever left the boat unvisited for so long — and after the recent cold weather I’d convinced myself there was bound to be some damage. We do minimal winterising so surely we’d come unstuck this year. However, on arriving at the boat yesterday for a visit lasting just a few hours, everything seemed fine. The batteries were showing as being on a hundred per cent, with credit still on the metre (showing the value of the solar panel even in the winter); I checked the engine and it started first time; I put the shower mixer back on, turned on the water and the water pump, and everything worked without any leaks.
The reason we haven’t used the boat as we usually do in the winter was because of a problem with the stove. Back in December when we went up to go to the theatre in Milton Keynes, on opening the stove to light it, the front panel moved forward.
We stayed in a hotel instead. Yesterday, Gary from Boating Leisure Services came to have a look. He said he’d never seen anything quite like it before, although apparently when these stoves need new tops, you have to put a strap round the stove otherwise all four sides fall off when the top is removed. He suspects the fittings which hold everything together have corroded away. We’ll take the boat up to Heyford Fields in a few weeks time, so they can get the stove out and see whether it can be repaired.