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unassuming and tatty narrowboat cruises the "Longest Friendliest Village in England"

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What is a "macerator"

Posted by PentargonSpringer on April 19, 2017 at 4:40 AM

: 'macerate'   "soften or become soft by soaking in a liquid"... Latin .'macerere' ... comes from the Greek.


I'm well acquainted with ' maceration' then.  Flahavan's  Oats soaked overnight make beautiful porridge in the morning. When the trotters are tired, maceration in a basin of warm water and some Epsom salts help with subsequent exfoliation and nail clipping. Maceration has its uses on my boat ...  don't mention steradent or dentures please... but we marinate pork chops in barbecue sauce ... and ...  


... MACERATION IN A CANAL CONTEXT IS A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME ...


 It is 8.15am on Wed.19th April 2017 at  Bridge 43a on the Coventry canal. Overhead is Watling Street with which we have remained in occasional but ongoing contact with since setting out from the River Darent in Dartford on the w/e of 8th/10th October 2016. An excellent night's sleep has been enjoyed and the sun is shining in a blue sky. I've made my coffee and have two boiled eggs on the go with toast when Next Door's engine fires up ... Next Door arrived under cover of increasing gloom last evening in a 60' floating corridor. On board, a lovely couple on their second day's hiring. They tied up  'longside at the very end of the Atherstone pound and we had chatted as I helped them secure just short of Lock5 landing stage. The pound was fairly well populated that night and theirs was the last spot available anyway ... Being close to the overhead A5 (and adjacent to the railway line) it could also be just a little noisy until real night closed in and things went quiet. As they do up here in Warwickshire.


Next Door had backed off from Lock5 in the gathering gloom and used convenient rings to tie within 100m of the lock. The bottom gates of Lock5 yawn when the lock is empty and because Lock5 is self emptying, a boat going up in the morning can slip the top rings and rope or drive directly into the lock. The Coventry is a narrow canal and the gates are light so first boat up can rope right into the lock without starting the engine or even staying on the boat. You just pull gently and the boat does all the work ...  and it is a single handed operation so, those lucky enough to have crew can let them lie or make the coffee ...  Letting some water down from a top paddle, BEFORE closing the gates, ensures that said gates will close themselves ... if you've not already pulled the boat to the back of the lock ... and stay closed while you let more water in. I have been very entertained watching erm novices ... who have not yet learned this little trick ...


 I'd suggested to Next Door the previous evening that if they wished to set off early, they could be in and up the lock in a flash. Last night's LAST  boat had come DOWN, so it was extremely like that all the locks in the flight were in their favour. They could possibly make a clean sweep of the remaining five locks to Atherstone top before anyone had got up.  Boaters generally don't get going too early on this lazy canal and especially on this beautiful stretch ... 


So! When I heard Next Door's engine firing up, I reckoned ... [wrongly as you will shortly see] ... they were going to do a "fast away".  I popped my head out to greet them wiith the morning's felicitations and offered to lockwheel them up the flight..

He sez "We're not in a hurry away! 

We have to start the engine

to go to the toilet"


I'm incredulous. This 'state of the art' canalboat

needs lecky to replenish their overnight use

watching telly or whatever they do.

They now have to start the engine

to run the alternator

to generate the electricity 

to charge the batteries

to supply the power

to run the "macerator"

to go to the toilet. 


Next Door also shared with me that the ' heating system' on board only works while the engine is running so they wanted a little warmth against the early morning April chill. This was explained through a huge cloud of steam/smoke emitting from an exhaust pipe. I left him to it and retreated to the innards to muse over this latest bit of strangeness. To perform a bowel evacuation on this very new narrowboat one has to be in possession of a workable voltage in the leisure circuit. I mused as to what one might do on a "modern" boat which developed an electrical glitch so that there was no leisure voltage. You guys tell me! On the forums, almost half of all the troubles fall into this category.

My boat is 1973 and is 'erm' state of 1930s art". However! ... Pentargon has an onboard "Airhead" composting toilet. When I want to shoot a log I just sit down and pull the firing pin.


CARDAMOM:  As an aside, These days I have a cuppa coffee each morning, hand ground in Pentargon's pestle and mortar with cardamom seeds. Cardamom has excellent laxitive properties. The seeds for the coffee, the pods for the tea! 


Polesworth Library Sat.20Apr. 2017


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