Sunday 28 February 2016

Boat Heating... Part 2

Where were we? - solid fuel stoves... or rather Multi fuel as planned for our boat.

As I've already said, we plan on installing ours in the centre of the boat - the idea being that heat will be more evenly spread throughout the boat.  The addition of one of these at ceiling (ish) level:

will provide a means of ducting really hot air from the lounge ceiling, down to floor level in the bathroom behind.    There are a few reasons for using a computer case fan:  1) they run on 12v so don't require the inverter to be on for them to work. 2) they're pretty much silent. 3) the current draw (power) is minimal so they don't drain your batter bank and 4) most will tolerate voltage fluctuations.

The wonders of ebay means the following collection of parts should soon be winging their way in our direction:
Lounge Vent
Rear adaptor

Read Adaptor

Bathroom Floor vent

Once connected together, I hope the airflow will prove effective - I'll have a dry run in the garage before hand to test the system out.  

I've mentioned the position of the stove in the boat - as close to centre was possible.  It's also going to be as close to port (left for you non-nautical types).  The reason for this is that some of the tunnels around the system are 2 way traffic and when you meet a boat coming in the opposite direction, you pass each other on the right... now given the "roof" of the tunnel slopes, by having your chimney on the left, it will be at the point with the highest available headroom - ergo, shouldn't get knocked off.

Of course, as many tunnels are one way / narrow, the chimney would no longer be at the point with the greatest head room.... As with many things, there is never the perfect solution but having the fire set to port will at least fit the interior design plan better but who knows, it's theory but it might work

BACK to "vents" - as annoying as drafts can be, stoves need an awful lot of oxygen and if you don't have enough fixed ventilation, you could find yourself DEAD thanks to our old enemy Carbon Monoxide! (see a previous post)

British Standard (BS8511:2010) - Code of practice for the installation of solid fuel heating and cooking applicance in small craft.

This tells you what you need to know - the simplified version is to ensure  you have 1" square for each Kilowatt of heat output divided between vents, high and low.  Looking at our plan, we'll have the fixed rear and front vents (in the front and rear doors) and a mushroom vent in the centre of the lounge.  We'll need to ensure there are gaps, equal to the ventilation sizes under /over the doors separating the dinette and kitchen, and bathroom/bedroom.    I think this will provide a "flow" and source for the fire.... hopefully without killing us this time.

This is a quick snap of an easier working document from our "wall".

Part 3 (sorry about this) is to follow as it's Sunday morning now and we're heading out for an early morning walk down the old Barnsley and Dearne Canal - NOT restored yet, but hopefully one day it will be.

Until next time...

Friday 26 February 2016

Boat Heating... Part 1

A question often asked of boaters: "Isn't it really cold in winter?" - to which the answer is of course "YES if you don't have effective heating... the same as in a house you muppet!" (I'm never sure whether the ! should go before or after the " " bits... if anyone reading this rubbish knows, I'd really appreciate a lesson in grammer.  Failing that, I'll ask a foreigner - they'll know,

ANYWAY ... the other morning, when I was about to leave for work, I checked the weather thing I have in the lounge to see whether I'd need to de-ice the car.  This is what it showed...

Ignoring both the clutter AND the fat finger obsuring the left hand corner (I couldn't make the crop thingy work for some reason) the bit we're interested in is the bottom left of the screen.  It was Minus 4.2 celious outside and 22.5 in the lounge.

I've never been one to tolerate cold very well - hence we leave the heatig on in the house 24/7.  When we eventually live on the boat this won't really be a viable option without it costing a fortune in fuel - AND don't forget everything on the boat needs fetching/carrying to it.

With that in mind, we're going to have 2 heating sources:  a solid fuel burning stove  AND a diesel powered radiator system.  

There are other ways of heating a boat such as warm air blown systems, gravity fed back boilers or just radiators heated by the engine.  The latter more of an engine cooling function than heating system.   Some folk when connected to shoreline power (think caravans with cables trailing to them) use oil filled radiators or little halogen heaters but as shoreline is not an option on our mooring, they'd be no use.

The primary source of heat though on most boats tends to be the solid/multifuel stove.  

Introducing the Morso Squirrel: 

(I stole the photo so if it's yours and you don't approve, please shout and I'll replace it with one of my own.)

This gives a  heating potential of 5kw... give or take.  The max output depends on certain veriables such as what fuel you are burning, how much ventilation you've got and external wind speeds (linked to air flow) etc.

Many folk have their stoves at the very front of the boat in the saloon - this is generally fine but if it's the only source of heat on the boat, by the time you get to the back end, it's freezing.  To counter this, there is a product called an "Eco fan" - it sits on top of the stove and uses electric generated by the heat of the stove, to power it's fan, thus pushing warm air in which ever direction it's pointing.  The result can be an increase of 4-5 degrees celius at the back,

On our design layout, the stove is slap bang in the middle of the boat, against the bathroom wall bulkhead and facing towards the back.  

My plan is to cut a 4 inch hole through the bulkhead into the bathroom, install a silent 12v computer fan and use ducting to direct hot air around the top of the stove, down the bathroom floor coming out at the base of the shower... with the bedroom door ajar, this should increase the temp in there too but more importantly mean the shower will feel nice and warm.

The Morso IS an expensive stove but it's cast iron as opposed to the steel versions we'd considered before... the cheapest I've found is a little under £900 for the stove and by the time you'd added a twin wall (thanks Europe) flue kit, we're looking at about £1500 before we fit it.

It has to be done...

I have to go to work now,  part 2 will follow shortly.

Until next time...

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Carbon Monoxide Alarms...

Our latest purchase for the boat are CO Alarms  (Carbon Monoxide)... oh I know it's a bit premature but they're something we DON'T want to forget about.  Why? - well because a couple of years ago, Andy  and I ended up in hospital during a summer camping trip (on my birthday as it happens) due to use of a camping gas heater in the tent.  

Totally self inflicted but I'd had said heater (and used it safely more times than I can remember) for over 10 years... inside a well ventilated tent.  SCHOOL boy error that last time was new tent... more "weather proof" - less ventilation and too much wine to think straight.

We zipped up the tent (30ft x 8 ft) about 9pm and watched Skyfall on the laptop, finishing off the box of wine we'd started earlier.. it's odd, but  I  took a photo at the time - with no idea I'd be writing about it a couple of years later:

There was a distinct chill in the air - despite it being early June, so we thought we'd leave the fire on in the centre of the tent and retire for the night...

About 6am I woke up needing the loo and noticed the flame on the fire was flickering and looked odd -So I turned it off thinking "bugger, the gas is nearly out - 'hope there's enough left to cook breakfast".... 

Andy got up about 8 and went into the other bedroom (read camping toilet) and shortly after that I heard a "thump" and on investigating found aforementioned partner, unconscious on the floor near the loo.  

Bit of a panic (well lot of a panic actually) trying to call an ambulance but no phone signal - something clicked in my brain about the fire so I dragged him outside as quickly as possible... feeling a bit rough myself but presuming it was hangover.  Other half put in recovery position and me running around the riverside trying to get a phone signal - when eventually found, 999 dialled only to find estimated time before ambulance would arrive was about 1 hour... ( I later found out there had been industrial action over something).  On return, he'd come around enough to talk but looked terrible and was crying like a banshee.

SO - into car, windows, sunroof open and speedy drive to the nearest A and E I could think of (Friarage hospital in Northallerton)  - all a bit vague from there as I just about passed out in the car park and the next thing I remember was waking up on a trolley with hi flow oxygen being pumped.  Andy  was very poorly -  me being 2 stone heavier, I could absorb more with least effect if you follow...  there was some talk about  him being sent to hull for the decompression chamber...We were both sent off to cdu a while later (still on hi flow) and spent the night being checked every hour or so.  

Luckily for us, by noon the next day, the doc came and said we could go home and discharged us to the care of our gp.  No  noticeable lasting issues other than memory problems but that could be down to age anyway.

SINCE then -  as you might imagine, we've got alarms in the camping gear, take one with us on hire boats and have 2 in the house.  I doubt we would be so lucky again.... also, we  never camp or moor in a place with no phone signal... or without noting the address (part of the panic was not knowing the post code of the camp site) or bridge nearest bridge number / gps data.  It's out plan to have a little chalk board at the back of the boat and intend to record out position every night when we moor up.

All in all a scary, humbling experience and one of those times when you realise first hand, how fragile we all are.

If you've not got a CO and smoke alarm, then get them and test them regularly folks   - they could be all that's between YOU and the grim reaper!

Until next time...

Sunday 21 February 2016

Life's 'Understudies'...

OK... this has nothing at all to do with narrow boating but I've been thinking about something.

A while back, we went to the cinema for the first time in about 8 years.  It's all changed!

The first thing that hit us was the lack of people working in them now - you no longer go in, queue up and ask for 2 tickets for whatever film you want... oh no.  NOW you have to stand, looking at a ticket machine.

Sorry madam - I hope you don't mind being included in this photo... let me know if you do and I'll cut you out and re-post it

When you eventually work out how to move around the on-screen menus, you can select your film, pay for it by card (they don't take cash)... PAYING  a 'processing fee' on top of the ticket price, and then you're free to go to the concessions stand.  Why it's called a concessions stand is beyond me because given the price of popcorn, it's anything BUT a concession.

Apparently, you can also buy tickets that we'd just bought at the machines at the concessions stand too - it's not obvious... the signage telling you this is none existent as they clearly don't want you to bother them with ticket sales...

SO, once you've bought a bag of popcorn and a drink the running total for part self-service trip out is circa £30 for  2 people!  If you're not in shock yet, you will be by the time you work out which theatre is showing your film... the "person" who takes a glance at your tickets as you walk past him/her doesn't direct you... no, it's expected you can work it out.  Now OK - it IS on your ticket but it's very faint print I bet many folk wander in to the wrong screen.

Once you're  settled *read cleared away the rubbish left by the previous occupants* you then endure about 20 mins of adverts before getting to the film you've paid to see.

In short, it's horrible... no staff, no effort just a money grabbing operation that, if you want to see a current film, you have to endure.

The good thing about it however is that it planted a seed within - we decided in future, to wait a few months, buy the DVD, watch it and then either sell it on  via eBay for half it's cost or give it to a Charity shop... either way, we'd be £20 up on the deal AND be able to pause the film to nip for a wee!

Andy then got to thinking... he decided that perhaps we could  go to theatre more often instead of the cimena...  yes, I know it's not an "apples for apples" comparison but it still offers a night out, you still can eat popcorn  but more importantly you get a good feeling that you're supporting a good cause... not forgetting you also mingle and therefore easily interact with many like-minded people.

In Wakefield, we're very lucky to have a beautiful old Theatre - The Theatre Royal.

Since Andy's Epiphany, we've been a few times ...(the plan is once a month but life doesn't always allow that) and on Friday we went again.  This time neither of us had actually looked at what the show was.  I know most folk will think that barmy, but even if I we don't like something, we can appreciate the effort and time that has gone in to it's production...  On Friday, this WAS one of those occurrences - well certainly to begin with.

The show was simply called "Dance, Sing & Act" (well those words in whatever order).  It was a production from performance academy.  You can read about it here if you like: 

The beginning of the show was awful - the infant class having a stab at "The Wizard of Oz" - when it started I looked at Andy in disbelief...  I'm not a fan of kids in general and he knew fine well I'd be grumbling at having paid to watch a school play.

As it went on and the next age groups  came on, it got better.... when I say better, I mean more tolerable. NO matter - you have to admire the commitment, energy and sheer determination the preformers put in.   I have no doubt that every single one of them was trying their hardest.

Which leads me to the point (eventually) of this post.   Understudies!  At one part of the show, one of the MC's came out and said the next song will be sung tonight by "so and so" as the original cast member was ill and unable to perform.  SO the understudy leaps into action.

Which got me thinking - It's hard work mentally for an understudy... KNOWING you weren't "judged" good enough to get the part in the first place, but to be "USED"  to bale them out when things go wrong.  This triggered a bit of inward thinking and it occurred to me, that Andy and I are understudies of sorts.  We spend our entire lives beavering away in the background, wearing ourselves out for other people/organisation's benefit - rarely getting even a thank you for our efforts.

So, to ALL the other understudies of the world - WE SALUTE YOU!

Until next time,,,

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Toilet talk...

We can't avoid this conversation much longer folks - the time has come for the 'Toilet discussion' ... well when I say discussion, as the comment function on here is a bit temperamental, it's more of a soliloquy - no matter lol 

Right then... for those of you who don't know, boating and toilet talk go together like rhubarb and custard.  The other day, when aboard Mick's boat, within seconds we were talking about his pump out toilet and how he'd rather the boat had a cassette..

Toilets on-board come in 3 forms:  Pump out, Cassette and of late, composting.  There can be slight variations on each but they all follow the basic description

Let's start with pump outs.   As the name suggests,  these are basically a loo that disposes of it's contents into a holding tank somewhere on the boat... which when full, gets "pumped out" ashore.

The pump out, comes in 3 main guises too:

The Macerator - which contains a pump and cutting head which chomps it's way through whatever is put down it.

This is going to be our "main toilet - if you're a bit nerdy, feel free to watch their lovely installation video on you tube - it's just over 6 minutes of your life you won't get back but they do make it sound very glamorous...

As well as the macerator pump out, there are also 2 others; the "dump through" - which is a simple as it sounds - the loo it'self sits directly ON the holding tank and the waste drops through into it.  These are simpple, usuallly unblockable and do have the advantage of the user being able to see through when the tank is about full - the down side, ALSO being that you CAN see in when it's about full...  NOT for the faint hearted.
Sorry it's not the best photo - I stole it from another blog but you get the idea... loo sits over a tank and you usually depress a lever with your foot which turns a balll around to open the bowl to the tank and hey presto - gravity does the rest.

The other pump-out kind, is the "Vacuum" loo: 

These are like the ones installed on planes and cruise-ships.  We quite like the idea of them as they use less water to flush  - which would mean less pump-outs and less wasted water from the freshwater tank... they are however a bit more expensive (there's a surprise) so our old friend "compromise" has come into play again and we've settled on the following kit from Sanimarin:

 "Another" £1000 to spend...  - that 'boat' thing, is certainly looking just that at the moment!

We may get lucky at Crick show and find one on offer but for now, it's on the "wall"!

where were we? -  ah yes, TOILET types...

Cassettes are simple - they vary in form but basically it's a reasonable sized plastic bowl (sometimes ceramic if you want to spend more) that sits over a removable cassette.  When the user has finished, they pull a lever usually to allow the contents to drop into the holding cassette beneath.. I think I'd be inclined to open it before I do anything to reduce the effort of the flush .  This is the one we're having as a 2nd loo:

There's a video file here: Thetford
which might be of interest...  

I suppose  the main advantage of having a cassette type is that it's free to empty them around the system... (pump-outs incur a typical cost of around £20 in the north - more in the south) and also, if you get frozen in somewhere with a full loo, you can at least trailer a cassette along the tow-path to the nearest emptying point...most people carry a spare one which we'll also be doing.  The downside being that you have no choice and end up getting rather close to the contents of the cassette when emptying...  I'm told if we ever  use it for more than number 1's, that will be my job... - no pun intended!

The final option is the 'Composting' toilet...

Basically, the unit is designed as such, to keep the solids and liquids separate - the liquid is then poured away whilst the solids begin to breakdown in the "bucket"underneath ... apparently if fitted, and used "properly" they DON'T smell and take about 3 months to fill - at which time you need to be able to store a bucket  somewhere for about 6-9 months before the compost is finished...

Some boaters swear by them and they DO offer another FREE way of  handling waste...  we don't think they're for us... not yet anyway... I'm sure as we meet more and more boaters with them, we'll become more enlightened!

Crikey - this has become a long post...who'd have thought taking a crap  visit could be so involved?

Until next time...

Monday 15 February 2016

A New friend called "Mick"...

Yesterday, after a morning in the garden sowing various seeds and rigging up my "Heath Robinson" electric propagators in the lean-to behind the summerhouse - oh and after washing all 3 cars AND having a general tidy up in the garage, we took a drive up to Stanley Ferry again.  That sentence is way too long  - I'm sorry! 

The sun was shining and despite the wind, it was a nice day for a walk  so we headed up along the tow-path to do a small circular route that would bring us back - passing our mooring spot.   Along the way, we encountered the usual ramblers and cyclists and it must have been the sunshine making everyone "happy" as  everyone we came upon, was keen to say hello for a change.    As we approached our mooring, we noticed a grumpy looking chap getting on and off his boat doing "stuff" - when we got closer we realised he was on one of the boats either side of us.  This chap, looked as miserable as it was possible to be on such a bright day.   It wasn't long until we were right near him and I decded now was as good a time as any to start a conversation with him in the hope of introducing ourselves as eventual new neighbours.

I can't actually remember what my opening line was - I get nervous around new people sometimes... looking at him, we'd both assumed he was going to be hard work.  On the contrary, he turned out to be the nicest old chap you could wish to be moored near.  Within moments, he invited me on to his boat to have a good look around at his layout, heating and solar charging systems.  OK, so within a second of stepping on-board, I could tell he wasn't house proud but his genuine warmth and hospitality WAS apparent.    That's the thing about most boaters... they DO care about other people and DO want to help where they can... Thinking about it though, a general capacity to care about others and willingness to do good or help out is abundant in society -  It just doesn't get much airplay in the news.  It's very easy sometimes to assume the worst of people or imagine everyone is out to screw you over... that just ins't the case.

Don't get me wrong, there are a few bad buggers about - but for the most part the world is a nice place to be... you just have to look at it through good eyes.

SO Mick is our new friend and I have no doubt, once the boat arrives, he'll be a great neighbour.  We both look forward to sharing a beer with him in the future... meanwhile, I need to do a bit more searching for macerator toilets again... I read something on canalworld about leessan having a bit of a sale.

Until next time...

Saturday 13 February 2016

Back to boat related stuff with retail therapy!

Ok - so yesterday I was peeved off with 'work'... TODAY is Saturday and despite having planned to go in for 5 hours this morning, I decided at 5am when Andy's alarm went off that I wouldn't and laid in bed until nearly 7 (in my world this is defined as a 'lay in')...

Sorry about yesterdays rant - like I said, this place (as in blog thingy) is my 'dear diary' where I can vent without having much risk I'll offend someone.  ANYWAY, moving on, today I've been out for a wander down the canal briefly  - a quick circular route up and over a wobbly bridge and passed our mooring place.  As I was walking down the towpath, wishing I'd brought a hat with me, I spotted a chap taking his toilet cassette to the disposal point.

This is a common enough occurrence but he was lugging this thing - presumably full of unmentionables  by carrying it at chest height.  To me this seemed rather a hard way to do it... Surely a  25 litre container must be blooming heavy - it looked heavy to me at any rate.  Having already given quite a lot of thought to this, we've bought a folding sack barrow for lack of a better term.  It's got a telescopic handle to reduce the need to stoop and will easily accommodate 2 "full" cassettes or perhaps a 20 litre jerry(gerry?) can of diesel.

When folded it takes up no space at all

And when full extended, it's a comfortable height.

It was only £20 from Maplins and it feels quite sturdy - according to the blurb on the packaging, it can hold up to 70kgs...

You may notice however, it doesn't specify being useful to carry poo off your boat ;-)   ... well I suppose MOST people buying them, won't be doing that will they?

For the most part, neither will we I suppose  - we're having 2 toilets on our boat... the main being the macerator which will feed to a tank under the bed in the main bedroom/cabin.  Our 2nd one being for emergency use WHEN the macerator breaks down or we get iced in somewhere... and even then only for liquid use unless it's an absolute emergency... 

It's a certainty that after a few minutes chatting with a boater, the conversation WILL end up heading down the 'pump out verses cassette' debate...  when it does, we'll of course be ready for it by having both!  You could argue that taking up a 2ft wide space of the available 41ft having a 2nd toilet is wasteful but it's our boat and we want the option.  Pump outs of the main tank currently cost about £20 a time...  so there may come a point in the future when we DO use the cassette in a bid to save money and if that is the case, we'll change over in the main bathroom and then turn the 2nd loo in to a wardrobe or granny flat!

Until next time...

Friday 12 February 2016

Stolen spring and Summer...

I need a moan...
You know that thing we all have to do that drives us mad and frustrates the hell out of us? - yes you do... that "work thing"...  the thing that gets in the way of being able to control your own lives and do what you want, when you want to.

In recent years, I've changed jobs (accidentally) from working in IT (which I hated by the way) to vintage fairground restorations - Yes I know it's quite a segway but sometimes things just happen.  To cut a long story short, my boss has his finger in a few pies and the fairground business needed some help to meet a deadline delivering 3 rides for Dreamland down in Margate last year.  SO, I got roped into help out and never left.

It's actually great fun - most of the time...  none of the office politics I used to have to endure, or stroppy customers standing over me, waiting for me to fix their problem.    MOST of the time it's also quite rewarding when you get something working, re-engineered or simply painted all nice and shiny.   Take the car here:

I'm currently working my way through 11 of them...   They're part of a 1930s Brooklands speedway racing track ride and all in a similar state of distress - having spent the last 20 years in a field!  

The body's have now been stripped and repaired and recently my dad and niece (they work together) sprayed 1 as a trial for us 

As I'm sure you'll agree, it looks very good now - but boy does it take along time and a lot of processes to get it to this stage..

It's quite rewarding usually but today, we discovered we have a ridiculous deadline to have the entire ride completed by - i.e., the 1st July.... now this is bad enough but what ALSO has to be completed and installed is another ride, that we've barely started working on - this one for the middle of May.  

Andy is helping out when he can but he already has 2 other jobs... there's only 2 people at work with me and we already work flat out all day...  SO as you might imagine, I'm rather miffed at the "deadline" -  it's stolen my spring and summer completely in effect... as I'll either be putting in stupid hours OR be too knackered to actually do/think about anything else... and for what? - the basic salary with no overtime or bonuses.

You can see why we NEED to get a narrow boat and slow  down our pace of life...  Thank goodness we have finally had the nerve to get the thing ordered  - if we live long enough, we might actually be able to spend a weekend on the boat pottering about and enjoying life again come the winter.  

End of moan... 

ON the plus side, I've found a local (ish) boat painter and he'll hopefully come up with a price soon.  As much as I'd like to do the paint job ourselves - as it'll be it's first one, having it done by a professional might make subsequent ones easier to do AND look better.  

I'll report back when I find out - meanwhile, it's a soak in the bath and episode of Dad's Army on the laptop for me.

Until next time...

Tuesday 9 February 2016

"Extras add" up very quickly!

It's been said by many, many people - mainly boaters I suspect, that "boat" stands for  'bring out another thousand"...

I can now see why - we've been looking at ways to get extra light into the boat as only having 10 portholes in total, we're both a bit concerned it may be a bit dark and dingy... especially in the lounge area, where reaslitsally, we'll spend most of our time when not chugging along.

There are various ways to achieve this;  'Pigeon Boxes'

Ignoring the d├ęcor (it's not our taste) these sit on the roof of the boat and can be opened for ventilation or simply left closed to let light enter the cabin from above...  we both like them but they can leak and stain the lining badly...  on the extras list, they cost about £700 quid with the glass.

Another option are  'Houdini' hatches

We're not keen on the look of these.

'Prisms' on the other hand DO appeal - the downside being you probably need a few scattered about which involved cutting MORE holes in your roof... whilst I like the subtly of them, I don't like the idea of lots of holes, weakening the structure.

Having given this much consideration - the answer was obvious really... We're already having 2 side hatches in the lounge area - mainly so we can fling them open and look up and down the cut to be nosey.  The down side of the standard ones though is they are lined with wood and thus when closed (due to wind/rain/snow/frost/gales) you can't see out.  SO - back to the "extras" again and we find the option to add glazed interior windows for £600 extra - each...

It's a lot of money (again) but a dear friend has offered to help towards the cost as a 'boat warming' present so we're going to ask the builder to add them to the order.  We're  debating whether to do BOTH sides or wait and see how we get on with 1 set for now... well when I say "We're" debating - what I mean is I want 1 set for fiscal reasons but Andy wants 2... time will tell who wins this battle lol.

Until next time...

Sunday 7 February 2016

A View of our mooring...

We've had a flying visit this weekend from Andy's parents.  They came down to see a John Godper production of "Shafted" with us last night at the Theatre in town.
This morning after they left on their house-hunting mission, we took a drive up to the mooring  (with the roof down as the sun was shining for a change) and had a walk along the towpath to try and identify "berth 15"...

Our initial thoughts were that it was this one:

or rather the gap between the ugly "work in progress" and the other one...

Having re-read the paper work from CRT, a little bit further down, we spotted a named boat moored up and we "think" it's actually the gap can see here:

This one is a bit further down towards the pub and ignoring the view that is moored opposite, should be ok for what we need.  It's not like we are going to live there.  

Hopefully, by the time the boat is ready, there'll be something a bit further along that comes available so we can move down.

We took a walk around and over the bridge down to the mooring itself and it was good to note the presence of proper mooring rings in the concrete.    

I'm rather pleased about this because yesterday, in the post from Midland Chandlers, these arrived:

We'd not seen them until our last holiday down in Warwick, when just about every boat we saw was using them... given the high winds, they made for a much more secure mooring against the pilings - and reduce the likely hood of someone cutting your ropes to set you adrift in the night - I suppose the theory being they're less likely to want to lean into the cut beyond the length of the chains....Either way, I'll feel happier with the boat tied off front and back with these through the rings.

A bit early I know but it is nice to be collecting things ready for when it arrives.

Until next time...

Friday 5 February 2016

A Bigger Engine...

Just when you think you're settled on a decision, something comes along that makes you re-think... (again)...

You'll remember, the engine that comes with the boat is a Canaline 38.
 This is a good basic engine for the size of boat we're getting... not too big to guzzle fuel and push the boat along nicely in most conditions.

With the "38" came the standard prm 120 mechanical gearbox that I'd had a sleepless night over, so I'd addressed that by ordering an upgrade to the 150.    What I didn't know was a limitation of the 38 being the maximum size of 2nd alternator it could handle.  I think this is somewhere around the 90/100amp mark (specs have changed since we first looked into it).  Now, given we've increased the battery bank from 400ah to 540ah, you have to have some way of stuffing this power BACK IN.  I'd assumed at some point we could fit a bigger alternator but apparently not.

How do I know this? - well, back in the summer when we took Andy's nephews on a boating holiday from Skipton - after a miserable wet few hours the first afternoon/evening, we finally moored up and wandered off to the pub for tea.  Upon our return, the boat we'd palled up with for the locks had gone - we thought it a little strange as they'd been having a rough time and were very relieved when I'd spotted 2 spaces for us earlier on.  Hanging out of the side hatch of the boat now moored where it had been,  were a young couple looking a bit miffed.  I'd had a couple of glasses of wine and was being quite chatty with them as they were clearly on a sail-away boat,..already doing what we planned to at that time.  As the conversation went on, it transpired we'd stolen their long term mooring - they'd only nipped off to get some water and on return found 2 boats in their space... the others, because they were in, had moved away when asked but given our absence, they carried on with their evening.

As we chatted about their boat, them still a bit narked but lovely none the less, it came out they'd got theirs from the same place we were originally intending to.    They didn't ask us to move and I think weere quite relieved when we went in for the night -  I can be a bit chatty after a couple of sherbets.

Anyway - me made a note to call back in on the return journey to drop off a bottle by way of an apology and thank you for not forcing us to move off that evening.... On doing so, I left my email address and the offer of a spare solar panel.

A while after, I got an email from Matt, thanking us for the wine and declining the offer of the panel.  They sprang to mind on boxing day when the floods hit and the other day I emailed him to see if they're survived ok - and to update them we'd finally ordered OUR boat.

I got a lovely email back from him yesterday, with their thoughts on what they did right/wrong.  Matt, specifically mentioned the engine upgrade as being on their list of regrets - mainly due to the alternator size - the 42 comes with a 175ah unit...

 which can obviously stuff a lot more power back into the batteries in less time... less engine time means less hours on the clock and lower servicing costs.

That sent me thinking about how much extra diesel the 42 would use over the 38 - after a bit of googling last night, I found a spec sheet and it turns out the 38 uses 0.7 litres  per hour at 1400rpm and the 42 1.00 litre per hour at 1400rpm. So at current prices about 30 p an hour more to run.  It does however increase the cost of the boat by another £1000 - I think we can probably afford that so I emailed Chris last night to ask for the bigger engine - I've just had a reply confirming he's made a note of it.

So that's that then.  Less time to run for charging purposes AND a little extra power in reserve for stopping/fighting river currents..another example of the goodness/helpfulness of boaters.  Thanks Matt!

Oh one last thing, it comes with "the deluxe control panel"...  hmm... I'll try not to get TOO excited about that bit ;-)

Until next time...

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Long Term Mooring Secured...

Good news - after Friday's initial faffing around on the CRT moorings website  ( you'll remember we were waiting "patiently" again...

Well yesterday morning, shortly after 9am I could resist no longer...and gave the lovely Emma a call.  We chatted about Stanley Ferry and she was pleased I'd called her - apparently my message left on her Answer (ansa?) phone on Saturday morning had been all Normal Collier...

She explained that the system had now allocated me a reference number - the thing "missing" when my buy it now attempt was made previously and I had to go back on line and do it again.  So at coffee time *read instantly*, I logged in and this time was able to complete the transaction.  Basically, it was a £70 deposit payable immediately and a direct debit set up  for £154 a month for 11 months.  I got the email back from their system with the terms and conditions and confirmation the purchase was agreed in principle - subject to credit checks etc.  I can't see any reason why that will fail but even if it did, we could get around it by paying cash apparently.  SO it's all systems go and we now have somewhere to store the boat.. when it eventually arrives.

Being a Yorkshireman, I do have a bit of a problem wasting the money each month when it could be put to better purpose but accept for peace of mind, there really isn't another option.  Andy is in agreement anyway so that makes it slightly more palatable.

The location of the berth, is in Zone C - ie the "other side" of the canal - between two knackered looking but progressing slowly, gigantic Humber barges ...

Roughly near the bottom water point on above map. - it's not ideal but it does at least have an access road within 5 foot of the side of the boat so at least getting heavy stuff down to it will not pose a problem.  It will also be handy for connecting a couple of hoses together to be able to fill the water tank without having to move.

Shortly after the on-line purchase was complete, I got a call from Brad in Birmingham CRT office... he was replying to the on-line query I'd raised on Friday when trying to complete the purchase.

I've got to say - Both he and Emma were very natural, and clearly the right people in the job... which these days makes a pleasant change.

So that's it - some paperwork in the form of contract and mooring permits will arrive in the post within about 15 days... meanwhile we just have to continue waiting patiently for our build slot to get nearer.  It's only 1 week down and I can't deny, we're already chomping at the bit to get going....

It's going to be a long summer !

Until next time...