Despite living on a boat for more than twelve years this was our first Christmas aboard; and very relaxed it was too. Father Christmas made it down the flue pipe of the diesel stove somehow, ate his mince pie and took the reindeer food we left for Rudolph. Top requests on the letters to Santa had been a balaclava for Big Sister and a chocolate cake for Little Sister. Santa delivered these and many more gifts besides. What lovely simple requests from ones so young, before they are old enough to request computer game consuls or whatever the kids are into these days. I know I sound old but I did turn 40 on Boxing Day! (Gasp!)
I got everything I wished for on my birthday and after the kids were in bed we chilled out and watched some Christmas TV with The Doctor’s parents. My mother-in-law kindly did the dishes for us but then later on went to use the bathroom. She claimed there was now no running water. No doubt another case of ‘house people’ not understanding how our boat works, I thought to myself, judgementally.
It turns out that she was right, there was indeed no running water. The next day The Doctor dismantled the access hatch and tested various bits and bobs to try to isolate the problem. Do we need a new water pump? Where in the circuit has it all gone wrong? Could this be expensive? We don’t want to disturb our marine engineer’s Christmas holiday so we leave it a few days before texting him, and survive on bottled water and washing dishes with a supply from the aquaroll. It’s a pain but we’re used to this sort of thing by now.
However, after a week of no running water we’re kind of desperate for a bath! So on New Years Day we treated ourselves to a night in the local Travelodge, (£15 for a family room!) I absolutely love sinking into a deep hot bath; we only have a shower on the boat.
The next day, we took the girls to the zoo and the marine engineer let himself into our boat with a set of spare keys. It did not take long to isolate the problem and he phoned straight away to let us know.
“There is a switch above the kitchen sink that was turned off. It turns off the water. I’ve turned it on again now.”
A little embarrassed, The Doctor asks how much we owe him for his time, and the engineer laughs and says not to worry about it.
A week without running water because a switch that we never use had been flicked off! Could my mother-in-law have done it accidentally when washing the dishes? Or was it one of the children? There are plenty of redundant light switches in our boat, as when the previous owner installed new systems he left the old ones in place. There are always a few switches and things about that we don’t know what they do: we just ignore them.
But how the friends and family of the marine engineer will laugh when he tells them the story of the family who didn’t know about their own ‘water off’ switch.