A week before Christmas the ice had thawed just enough to move the boat from where we’d been frozen in for two weeks. British Waterways phoned to say we might be able to travel back to Leeds in a couple of days, and they booked us in to travel through the staircase locks. Things were looking up: we might be back on our winter mooring soon.
Then, after several weeks of working unreliably the diesel heater broke down completely. In temperatures as low as minus 14 centigrade, we wouldn’t be able to stay on the boat without it. We found a company near Wakefield that repairs Mikuni heaters and I spent three hours crouched in the freezing cold engine compartment disconnecting it.
I decided to attempt to turn the boat around and head for Rodley Boat Centre where we could get water, diesel and electricity to power a fan heater and at least survive a few freezing cold nights.
Driving forward I soon reached an icy patch. Speeding towards the ice did break it but with each attempt the boat was deflected off course towards the bank. I reversed and tried again until Audrey Too reached a spot wide enough to turn around in. Unfortunately the whole winding hole was iced over so it took about 20 charges at the ice to break it up into small enough shards to drive through. To compound the difficulty, the canal was very shallow at its edges and the narrowboat got jammed a few times.
Several hours and a couple of hundred yards later I arrived at the boatyard, where I begged to moor and use their electricity. It turned out to have been a wise move because the next day the temperature plummeted, snow fell and the canal iced over again. No hope of travelling to Leeds and that cosy mooring quite yet.