June 18th started out like any other day at Bankstone Towers. I was at my desk hard at work on the latest edition of Bankstone News, when something woke me with a start. What was that noise?

A violent mechanical churning sound burst the bubble of a beautiful dream in which I’d just teamed up with Angelina Jolie to fight the scourge of motor fraud.

There was no way I’d be getting any more work done with that cacophony going on. So, in the true spirit of investigative journalism, I set out to find the source of that terrible sound. The churning grew louder and louder as I crossed a quaintly cobbled courtyard to the quayside of the Brighouse canal basin.

An old guy in flip flops and a teeshirt revealed all. I suggested he make himself decent. Once he’d pulled some old shorts on, I asked him what was going on. “They’re pumping the basin,” he told me.

Pumping the basin may mean something slightly different where Bankstone News comes from, but I’ve never heard it make a sound like that.

“Pumping the basin, huh?” I asked.

“Boat sank last night,” explained the old guy, whose name I later learned was Beau Toner.

“Sunk, huh?” I quizzed remorselessly.

“Someone round here had a leaky stern gland,” Beau told me cryptically, with just a hint of a sinister smile.

And that was all he’d tell me.

Who was this someone with a leaking stern gland? Was this something to do with Winnie Walmart and Derek Tait? Winnie had been Beau’s girl, but lately she’d jumped ship to berth with Derek. Derek’s boat, everyone agreed, was bigger and better than Beau’s in almost every way. Foul play seemed strongly indicated. Had Beau scuttled his rival’s boat? With the lovers still inside?

Actually, no: Derek’s boat was not at the bottom of the basin but calmly chugging along somewhere in the vicinity of Hebden Bridge by now, with Derek and his new friend Alison Appleforth aboard.

The actual owner of the stricken vessel ruefully revealed that water had got in around the propellor shaft, through a poorly packed stern gland. An alarm had been set off, but too late, alas, to stop the waters rushing in through the engine air vents, dragging the unfortunately vessel down. 

The Canal and River Trust (formerly British Waterways) had helpfully dropped the canal water level by nearly 18 inches. But this proved insufficient. Hence the arrival of the nap-disturbing pump, brought in to pump the vessel out.

All in all: far more excitement than we get round here too often – and a delightfully entertaining spectacle for Bankstone staff who laughed and jeered companionably whist picnicking canalside through their lunch break.



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