Friday, 30 November 2012

Blue Discs and other things

Jan has been to Thatcham on a shopping expedition.  Apparently the bus journey took considerably longer than usual due to all the road works.  On her return I discovered we were now the proud owners of eight 15” blue foam discs.

The shop owner who cut them out even gift wrapped them !Smile

Well half of the discs have had their first trial.  They fit quite snuggly into the porthole liner and appear to be a good insulator. 

Jan is now considering how she will fit a fabric cover.

This morning I was down on hands and knees in the cratch sanding the floor ready for Darren to prime.  The area had collected a considerable amount of surface rust which needed to be removed.  Obviously there was no point in doing any of this until the cratch cover had been made and installed.  Darren managed to get the first coat of primer on by mid afternoon and hopefully it will be dry by tomorrow morning ready for the first undercoat.

Nick has been busy fitting the majority of the safety labelling before replacing the four light switches in the cockpit with a different type of switch.  The previous switches had an IP55 rating but were failing due to water ingress.  The latest switches have a rubber cover.  Nick also fitted the CO detector in the saloon.  It’s adjacent to the smoke detector.

Richard fitted chute bolts to the cratch windows and also fitted a safety ‘grab’ handle in the shower.  It’s something we thought about when developing the specifications for Waiouru.  The last thing we want is for someone to fall over in the shower or burn themselves by grabbing the shower mixing valve.

He has also fitted a chrome rail across the top of the shower.  We included this in the specifications because we thought it might be a useful area to hang wet coats and other clothing using coat hangers.

One concern we had was the rail might ‘foul’ headroom in the shower but we’ve discovered this isn’t the case as the headroom in Waiouru is very good!

Nick has also fitted stainless steel catches to all the outside doors.

Richard gave me some ‘Terry Clips’ which I have used to secure the tiller arm inside the back wardrobe.

I’m not sure this will be its final location, but it will do for the moment.

The guys are quickly working their way through the list of small tasks.  Andy mentioned today that the carpet and vinyl flooring should be laid next Thursday and it’s quite possible this will be the last job to be completed. 

I’ve been continuing with the preparation of the documentation to obtain a CaRT licence.  We are waiting on the successful pressure testing of the bow diesel tank before being given a BSS certificate.  This is the last piece of required documentation before we can submit the Licence Application (and part with yet more money!)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Skirt and Bonnet now on!

Ian and Scott from Kinver Canopies arrived around 9:30 am today and immediately started work at either end of Waiouru.

It was late on the 25th of October that they made the cratch and pram cover templates for Waiouru and today they arrived to fit the finished product.  Scott worked on the pram whilst Ian fitted the cratch.  The first step in the process was to loosely fit the cover and then do the final adjustments simultaneously screwing or pot riveting the connectors to the shell.

First loose fit on the pram

And another loose fit with the cratch

We didn’t want press dome catches as I suspected they might be very difficult to do up in the middle of winter.  Instead there are turnbuckles and elastic cord straps.

The finished cover

Back at the stern Scott had finished the pram cover

We think the ability to remove the side panels and roll up the rear will be very useful during summer.

Jan asked Scott (tongue in cheek) whether there was a front windscreen wiper?

There is good visibility from inside

After both covers had been fitted we noticed how much warmer it was inside Waiouru.  It looks like we may be able to reduce our heater output and save some energy.

Nick was on the stern of the boat removing the original chrome diesel filling points for the engine and heater tanks replacing them with lockable points that had been delivered earlier in the morning.

Tomorrow the cratch will have to be emptied of “clutter” and all the steel cleaned down ready for painting by Darren.  Not too much longer and Waiouru will be finished!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Better Maps

Wandering around the internet yesterday  I stumbled upon a website containing freeware maps for Garmin GPS units <link here>.  The owner of the TalkyToaster website is Martin and he has produced various map sets for both ‘routable’ (eg, vehicle sat-nav) and topographic (eg, contour lines and footpaths) Garmin units.  I’ve been using freeware maps from another source which have contour lines but not the public footpaths and bridlepaths.  To obtain the paths I’ve had to trace them on the OS website and download them to the Garmin Oregon.  Using these new map sets from Martin means this is no longer required.  It appears much of Martin’s data is obtained from Open Street Map which is also free in the public domain.  I’ve noticed not all of the footpaths in the area around Aldermaston Wharf are on these maps and there is a note inviting users to submit new data or amendments for inclusion.  This will give me something to do on the Sunday walks.

This morning Darren fitted the Earth Leakage Breaker (ELB) into the front port side wardrobe.

The ELB as delivered

It now sits on the opposite side of the bulkhead wall from the bow shore power plug.  As a result of the alteration to the 240v wiring we now have the shore power cable protected.

The ceiling trim was reinstalled and concealed the wiring after this photo had been taken.

Just to recap on the reason for fitting the ELB.  Barrie Morse, the marine surveyor advised us the cable from the shore power socket on the boat to the consumer unit us required to be protect under the relevant ISO (International Standard).  The cable must have a 2 pole 16A ELB unless the distance from the socket to the consumer unit is less than 500mm.  The exception to this requirement is if the cable is contained within a conduit.  In this case the distance can be up to 3 metres.  Our bow shore power socket is almost 15 metres from the consumer unit hence the need for the ELB. 

After fitting the ELB Darren went on to make and fit a ‘swans neck’ into the sanitation hose.  It has been installed immediately after the toilet and the object is to prevent the “contents” in the pipe flowing back into the toilet.  Or more importantly preventing the contents of the pipe emptying into the bathroom if the pipe were to come loose from the toilet connection.

More components arrived today and will be fitted tomorrow.  We’re starting to see the bottom end of the “yet to do” list.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Wet Walk

It has rained on and off for the entire day and that has put a stop to any thought of continuing with the painting.  I went for a walk up to Froud’s Bridge Marina to see if there had been any change in the water level since passing that way yesterday.  The stretch of the canal between Aldermaston Lock and the lock at Woolhampton is one long pound.  The River Kennet joins the pound below the Woolhampton Lock and diverts from the pound at Froud’s Bridge.  So any inability to handle the volume of water by the River Kennet should see the water level in the canal rise to the point where it flows over the top of the Aldermaston Lock gates.  Actually this is most unlikely because there is a weir on the River Kennet shortly after it diverts from the canal.  Once the water spills over the weir the area is a low lying flood plain.

Jan and I checked this assumption by walking along the new footpath adjacent to the A340 between Aldermaston Wharf and Aldermaston Village.

The contractors have been doing a good job with the new footpath.

When we reached the road bridge over the river it was possible to see the volume of water being discharged over the weir on the up stream side.

Paul (nb Apache) had previously mentioned that a large tree had collapsed across the river creating an obstruction.  However it doesn’t look as if is having much affect on the flow.

But the water level has definitely risen on the floodplain as the new footpath on the far side if the bridge has been submerged.

Back at the boat Jan found a courier delivery had arrived for us.  We now own two Binetone model 900 walkie talkies purchased from Amazon.

They are waterproof to 1 metres and will float if dropped into the canal (note Elly & Mick Smile) and the battery life is 16 hours.  The battery life is achieved by the radio going to ‘sleep’ mode if not used for 30 seconds.    So now “Hot Mama” will be able to talk to “Fat Boy” when doing the locks!

Darren has finished painting the sliding hatch cover for the rear cabin and this morning Nick masked it up before applying the mastic seal around the inside edges of the timber lining.  However the exposed timber edges to the hatch opening on the boat also need to be sealed with mastic before the hatch can be refitted.  This isn’t going to occur whilst the area is exposed to the rain.  Consequentially we are going to be without a proper hatch for at least one more day.

Monday, 26 November 2012

A wee bit knackered!

Either today’s Sunday walk was longer and more difficult than usual or I’m getting older.  It has to be the former <I hope!>.  After all the recent heavy rain the plan was to get onto high ground where it would be drier under foot.  This turned out to be an invalid assumption.

It was a five hour walk done in an anticlockwise direction.  Apart from the towpath and the journey through residential Thatcham the ground was mostly wet, muddy undulating and slippery.  This was particularly true of the bridlepaths which I suspect were heavily cut up after being used by horses.

One of the better stretches.  Notice how the bracken has died back along with the stinging nettles.

It’s the first time I’ve walked through Thatcham using the off-road footpaths.  All these footpaths through urban areas are something I have noticed in English towns and cities.  They are more prevalent than in Australia or NZ and I’m enjoying using them.  Midway through Thatcham I came to St Mary’s Church.

St Mary’s Church located in the ‘dead centre’ of Thatcham

Apparently the Normans replaced the original Saxon wooden building with one built of stone around 1140AD.  The current church was completely renovated in 1857.

The planned route then took me across the railway line to the towpath near Monkey Marsh Lock.  This is one of two turf sided locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal.  After all the recent rain the water level was very high and in one location had flooded over the top of the towpath.  It was even higher than the concrete tops to some of the sluice paddles.

On some sections the canal and River Kennet share the same channel and the volume of water being discharged through the sluices where they separate is far greater than usual.

It also appears in the last week a CaRT patrol officer has been walking the stretch of the towpath between Woolhampton and Aldermaston as I noticed one of the boats moored at Woolhampton had a patrol notice attached to it.

Back at Waiouru a hot shower and dry clean clothes went some way towards rejuvenating me although this was slightly negated by the need to go back into the rain and fill the water tank.  Despite the pressure being good it still took 40 minutes to fill the half empty tank.  Back in Waiouru the ‘captain’s recliner chair’ beckoned which resulted in me examining the inside of my eyelids and punching out ZZZZZ’s for 90 minutes before Jan woke me for dinner.  It’s likely to be an early night; although Jan isn’t looking forward to it because I apparently ‘twitch’ in my sleep after a tiring walk!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Wet wet wet

And we don’t have a stern hatch cover as Darren took it away yesterday to paint.  Instead we have a piece of old timber panel over the opening which has left a large gap which is allowing the warm air to escape from inside Waiouru.  The weather forecast is for strong winds later today and tomorrow so I’ve taken Nicks advice and scrounged around the boatyard in the long grass and brambles for more fire bricks top place on top of the panel.

We’ve been pleasantly surprised with the minimal amount of condensation in the boat.  Each morning one of us goes around with a micro-fibre cloth and drying the bottom of the portholes and the small area of exposed aluminium Houdini frame.  Obviously we are generating the condensation by breathing (I’m alive… I’m alive!) or it’s from the cooking.  The spray foam and double insulation on the portholes and Houdini’s appears to be very effective.  Less than 1000w of generated energy is keeping Waiouru warm.

Yesterday Nick recalibrated the fuel gauges.  The first task was to top up the tanks.  Oh dear….. more money spent!  The Hurricane heater tank took 21 litres and the heater has 38 hours on the meter.  The fuel gauges are calibrated by pumping air into the line with a bicycle pump.  I’d anticipated this and purchased a cheap bike pump from Halfords.  It lasted for one tank but burst apart under pressure when attempting to calibrate the main tank Sad smile

To calibrate the tank air has to be forced into a thin copper tube which runs down to the base of the tank where there is a sensor.  The fuel gauge is then calibrated manually with a small screwdriver to show the tank is full.  Over the course of a year some air pressure will be lost which will require the process to be repeated.  Looks like we’ll need to look for a stronger bicycle pump!

As we are getting very close to Waiouru being completed I’ve been reading the build specifications with the objective of identifying any outstanding tasks.  One thing I noted was the headlamp is supposed to have a small indicator lamp at the stern which will illuminate when the headlamp is on.  I don’t want to forget to turn off the headlamp and start flattening the batteries.  It would be possible to fit a small LED globe but I’d need to use one of the spare terminals on the stern Empirbus node.  I’d much rather save the spare terminals for some future; yet to be identified requirement.  Then I had this brilliant idea (unusual for me).  I could reprogram the system so the cockpit light came on with the headlamp.  It only took a few keystrokes on the computer and the amended configuration file is now waiting to be uploaded.   

A slight panic mid afternoon when Jan noticed the gutter across the front doors in the cratch was full of water.  Now this gutter empties into the front bilge sump where there is an automatic bilge pump.  If the pump doesn’t automatically empty the water from the sump then it can backup and enter the cabin under the front doors.  The first test was to check the pump actually worked.  This was confirmed by running it via the manual over-ride switch on the bedroom wall.  So the pump worked but the problem might be the float switch.  This was tested by filling the now empty sump from a bucket.  The float switch didn’t work!  Thinking logically; the next step was to access the wiring to the automatic switch to see if it had 12v.  It didn’t!  So the problem was between the terminal to the float switch and the bow Empirbus node.  On looking at the node I could see the digital fuse on one of the circuits had “blown”.  Yes…. it was the active feed to the automatic float switch.  Now if I had been really logical the node would have been the first place I checked.  Actually the failure to clear the “blown” fuse is my fault.  I’d seen it earlier when clearing another fault and hadn’t realised there was more than one fault on the node!  Another lesson learned.

Bit of a delay with tonight’s post whilst waiting for the All Blacks to finish trouncing Wales.  Jan wasn’t too fussed about the result as she considers herself half kiwi and half welsh.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

First Short Cruise… and in reverse!

Well there were all sorts of noises from the roof of Waiouru as we were bashed around by the wind and rain yesterday evening.  I became quite concerned and dressed in warm weatherproof clothing to go out and check everything was alright!  It was… all I did was open the rear cockpit doors which currently don’t have catches and as a consequence were rattling and banging in the wind.

This morning Waiouru rocked and then the engine of Windrush; which is breasted up to us; burst into life and moved off.  Nick and Darren then started untying Waiouru’s mooring ropes so I asked what was happening and where were we going?  They had decided to turn Waiouru around in order to reach the starboard side.

A flurry of activity from Jan and I saw Jan on the towpath with our new BW key whilst I stayed on Waiouru with Nick and Darren.  I then remembered the camera and passed it to Jan calling our “Take plenty of photos”.  I asked Nick where we were going.  In the downstream direction there is a lock and winding hole whilst upstream is a lift bridge across a busy Class A Road and another winding hole.  We were going through the lift bridge which is why Jan needed the BW key.  The plan was to reverse up stream under the lift bridge; wind Waiouru (turn her).  Then reverse back under the lift bridge and back onto our original mooring.  Nick asked if I’d like to steer but I declined using the excuse we haven’t yet taken delivery.  Actually I didn’t want my first opportunity to steer Waiouru to be in reverse under a major road lift bridge <chicken>.

Nick has the tiller and throttle whilst Darren managed the bow thruster controls.

All I did was watch and learn <hopefully>

Who’s have thought her first voyage would be in reverse!

Jan got so involved in controlling the lift bridge and separating Bo <the dog> from Ollie <the swan> that she never took any photos of Waiouru reversing under the bridge or winding.

And before you knew it we were back at the mooring.  I think Nick and Darren had a “little play” when mooring as they brought her in sideways using the prop and bow thruster. 

Darren had finished painting the front bow thruster locker panel so I carefully refitted it using stainless steel machine screws dipped in silicone grease.  Nick spent much of the morning finishing the engine compartment.  The domestic batteries have now been tied down along with the hospital exhaust.  He also fitted a valve into the outdoor shower head on the stern.  It means we should be able to isolate the shower head in very cold weather hopefully preventing any damage caused by freezing temperatures.

Although the day has been dry, and at times sunny, by mid afternoon the mercury had started to drop, so tonight’s walk will have to involve jacket, scarf, gloves and woolly hat.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Fire Safe

The last two fire extinguishers were delivered today and I had them fitted within the hour <Tick>.  Later in the day Nick conducted a pressure test of the front diesel tank as part of the BSS process and it failed the test.  We have a small hole in the welded join between the top of the tank and the pipe to the filler point on the gunwale.  Unfortunately it is around the back of the join and is obscured by the side of the hull.  I suspect this is going to give the welder some grief trying to fix.

Meanwhile the joiners have almost finished.  The boards for the top of the cratch lockers were made and tested for fit.

They have now been taken back to the workshop to have their bare edges painted with a special water resistant coating.  At some future date were are going to have to remove all the junk useful stuff from the cratch.  The water hose will have to fit (somehow) in the bow thruster locker whilst the plastic jerricans will need to go in my garden shed the engine compartment.

The engine compartment hatch has been cut to size but hasn’t been fitted.  The plan is to hinge it on the starboard (right side) which will allow it to swing upwards and to the right where it will be secured with a latch.  When down it will be locked in place to protect those valuable plastic jerricans.

Whilst at the stern I had a discussion with Nick about locking the two diesel tank filler caps.  However we still haven’t identified a satisfactory method!

The wind has come up and as a consequence we’re being bashed around more than usual.  The mooring lines have already been checked once just in case the water level has risen (it hasn’t) and as a consequence we’ve identified yet another piece of equipment we need.  A powerful torch!  It may just be an interesting night!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Bad Day

This is a reference to the weather which started with drizzle and a low temperature before degenerating to rain (some solid) and a cold wind.  Of course it was also the day Jan decided to go shopping in Aldi.  We caught the Black 1 bus from Aldermaston to the Horncastle pub stop in Reading.  During the week it’s a half hour service.  But today the bus arrived an hour late!  It’s always interesting shopping in Aldi because of the different (foreign) brands.  Their chocolate is delicious!  All we had was my small daypack so we had to restrict our purchases. 

We then caught the bus back to Calcot as Jan wanted a few items from Sainsbury’s.  Now she’s been watching and learning from the canny pensioners so instead of buying lunch from the Costa Coffee outlet on the ground floor she took me up to the Sainsbury’s cafe on the first floor.  The only patrons were pensioners and looking at the prices it wasn’t hard to work out why!  In the end we both chose a “Big Breakfast” for lunch having decided to eat a light dinner.

Jan doesn’t like sausage’s. I eventually had four.  However she does like bacon and mushrooms so some trading took place.

It’s been interesting watch her shop.  Some time ago she obtained a Nectar card which is a loyalty card accepted by many outlets including Sainsbury’s  and Homebase.  She also has it linked to her eBay account.  She uses the points at Sainbury’s to get a discount on the shopping bill.  Additionally, she gets small cashback and discount vouchers from Sainsbury’s.  All of these go towards reducing her food shopping bill.  However not much in life is free and I suspect Sainsbury’s use the data collected to monitor her shopping habits and target her for additional items.  Jan tells me she hasn’t been tempted but the process may be so subtle she doesn’t realise it’s happening?

We arrived back at Waiouru, cold, wet and having been stung by the hailstones.  The weather is very similar to New Zealand!  I was quite pleasantly surprised to find the boat was still reasonably warm despite not having left any form of heating running in our absence.  Hopefully this is further confirmation the insulation is doing it’s job.

Things brightened up in the afternoon with the rain stopping and then we even had a hint of blue sky.  There was a knock on the side hatch and we opened it to find Graham (nb Mount Tamar) offering a plastic bag containing a midget chicken partridge.  This is the second bird he has kindly given us and I can report they are quite tasty!

Jan now has to reconsider tomorrows dinner menu Smile  Oh…. I’ve just noticed today’s post is all about food ….. and I didn’t plan it that way!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


I’ve been having problems with my configuration of the remote key fob.  It has three buttons which are configured as:

  • Alarm ON/OFF
  • Central Heater
  • Lights

The first two were configured without much difficulty but the latter has been somewhat of a problem until blog reader Nick assisted and noticed my error.

Objective:  The objective was to configure the third button on the key fob so when pressed the following lights would come on for 60 seconds and then turn off automatically

  • Stern navigation
  • Cockpit
  • Rear cabin step
  • Rear cabin ceiling
  • Cratch
  • Front cabin step
  • Front cabin ceiling

The idea is that on returning in the dark to Waiouru the remote key fob can be used from the towpath to deactivate the alarm and then turn on the lights at either end of the boat thereby allowing boarding to be achieved safely.  The reverse can be done when leaving in the dark.

Everything had been configured in the system to make this happen except the fob button had to be pressed twice.  I couldn’t understand why two presses were required and didn’t know how to rectify the problem.  However Nick realised I had the fob button configured for ‘pulse’ instead of ‘fixed’.  A simple change in the options setup and the system now works correctly.  It will get a practical test when I go for a walk tonight.

It’s been a wet day and unfortunately the marina staff had to work with the crane lifting boats in and out of the water.  They looked rather miserable by the end of the day and who can blame them.  Richard and James sensibly spent their day inside Waiouru attending to a number of minor tasks.  By the end of the day these had all been completed and from a joinery perspective everything inside appears to be finished.

At one stage I grabbed the can of varnish and touched up the oak trim fitted to Waiouru in the last two days.  An hour was also spent making and fitting a small jig in the void under the front step.  It is supposed to chock the ballast bricks in place to prevent them moving and damaging the water pump.

It’s probably time to go back through the contract specifications and identify any outstanding work which can them be discussed with Andy at our Friday afternoon meeting.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Ceiling Complete

The insect and blackout screens were fitted to the three Houdini trims today.  They won’t be used much during the winter however we envisage they will be useful in the summer when it’s hot and we want to leave the hatch open.  The insect screen will prevent infestation (hopefully) whilst the blackout screen will be useful when we go to bed.
Jan commented that nearly all the beautiful oak trim has been concealed by the plastic frame holding the screen.
The insect screen pulled across from the right
The blackout screen pulled from the left.
James and Darren also fitted the cratch board and top plank.
The headroom is good and I’ve found it is possible for me to stand upright in the cratch without having to stoop.  The glazed window frames have yet to be fitted.  They open inwards and are on lift-off hinges.  The reason for this is to give us access to the water tank filler point and the bow anchor point.
I happened to read on Elly & Micks blog <here> about a report that Britain is going to grind to a halt in the next few weeks from a massive winter freeze.  The quoted source was the ‘Express’ newspaper.  Not being one to take things on face value I looked at the information in the link.  The Express apparently obtained the information from Exacta Weather.  It’s not the UK Met Office but rather a commercial site where you have to purchase their premium long range report.  So I did some googling on Exacta and long range weather forecasts.  Two things became apparent.  First, there are a number of references to Exacta getting it wrong.  Second, it’s incredibly difficult to produce an accurate forecast beyond a month.  I remember attempting to find out the long range forecast for last winter about this time last year.  All the sites were saying it was going to be a very cold and harsh winter when in fact it was rather mild.  So we’re not starting to get concerned about being frozen in for the next few months.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sunday Walk

Last night the Three mobile data was so slow I was unable to load the OS website and plot a route for today’s walk.  Consequentially I decided to walk the towpath to Newbury and perhaps call into Screwfix to purchase a club hammer lump hammer.

This morning we woke to find a clear and crisp day with not a cloud in the sky.  Waiouru was covered in a light frost when I started walking towards Woolhampton leaving Jan with the exciting task of doing the laundry .Smile

The weather had obviously attracted a large number of walkers and cyclists to the towpath whilst the canal had canoeists who looked like they were practicing for an event.  There are some very picturesque canal scenes along the way.

Newbury Dry Dock

An old Tjalk

A traditional Tjalk has a bulbous bow and stern with a flat bottom across the beam.  This gives them plenty of storage but they can ‘skate’ sideways in the wind.  To reduce this effect they were traditionally fitted with a leeboard (the natural timber on the side in the above photo) which could be lowered into the water.

Unfortunately Screwfix didn’t have the lump hammer in the weight I wanted so it appears a walk to Reading is possible.  The return to Aldermaston Wharf was by bus and I took the opportunity to sit in the front row on the upper floor (it was a double decker… something very rare in NZ).

Back at Waiouru Darren was touching up the off-white coachline which deferred my plan to fit the pole racks.  Instead the water tank was filled whilst I scanned the completed application forms to be mailed to the RYA and CaRT.  Each required a cheque to be included so we are now somewhat poorer.

Pole rack tomorrow (maybe) whilst Richard and James will be working on the last of the joinery.