Sunday, 31 March 2013

Wai ha hoo

New cruising territory today.  We did all of 40 minutes! Smile

Waiouru calmly cruised along the canal at tick-over until we reach the river.

Left to Frouds Bridge Marina and the Old Mill weir whilst to the right is Newbury and (eventually) Bristol.  On turning right into the flow of the river there was an immediate impact on the speed and the rev’s had to be increased to 1350rpm.

Looking back it’s left to the canal and Aldermaston whilst straight ahead to the marina.

Of course one always meets a boat in coming in the opposite direction at a windy bit!  With our luck it had to be a wide beam boat.

Whilst there was actually plenty of room we were still adjusting to the handling of the boat in the current.  As Beatrice Rose passed the steerer looked at the name on our boat and attempted to say it. After a few seconds of being tongue tied he settled on Wai ha hoo! Smile We both had a chuckle having previously realised pronouncing Waiouru’s name is going to be a bit of a talking point!  

It’s Why-oo- (as in who) Roo (as in Kangaroo)!

Pushing on upstream we reached the swing bridge at Woolhampton.  where we moored below the bridge and walked forward to prepare the lock.  There was a boat about to come down which meant we didn’t have to worry about the gates being closed in our faces.  The plan was for the boaters on the lock to leave the gates open and Jan would work the swing bridge for them.  We would then take Waiouru up through the bridge and into the empty lock.  However another hire boat appeared behind us.  Mindful of previously having watched James and Doug on nb Chance working with hire boaters, we opted to let the hire boat go ahead of us.  That way we wouldn’t have to worry about the novices (ha ha) bashing Waiouru when following us into the lock.  We need not have worried as they made a good job of the difficult approach.

Jan then opened the bridge to allow Waiouru through.  I almost stuffed up the approach into the lock, having turned slightly too early, but recovered from the situation to enter without hitting the sides.  Having two boats in the lock made it easier to fill. 

The hirers offered us the opportunity to leave first despite knowing we intended to stop for the day on the 48 hour moorings immediately above the lock.  I had checked the moorings during a walk two days previous and they were all full.  However today there were two vacant moorings so we were in luck.

However on exiting the lock we noticed the broadbeam C&RT work boat (Nelson) was adrift and across the canal.

Nelson across the canal in the distance.

We moored immediately in front of the blue boat and then assisted recovering and re-mooring Nelson.  Obviously an earlier boater had gone past at some speed as both the very long mooring pegs had been bent and pulled out of the ground.

As it was Sunday we opted for a pub roast lunch.  There are three pubs in Woolhampton.  The Row Barge is beside the canal, whilst a short walk to the village provides a choice of either The Angel or the Falmouth Arms.  We chose The Angel as it has recently re-opened under new management.  An Australian couple who have been touring the world for the last 20 years in their mobile home but have now decided to settle in Woolhampton.

It’s dog and ‘rug rat’ friendly and Jan liked the sign out the front.

We both chose the roast pork which was filling and tasty (£9.25 ea) although Jan would have liked a “Yorkie” with her roast.  We were too full to fit in a dessert opting to return to Waiouru for a cuppa.

We’ve passed this structure in Woolhampton on many occasions but never actually closely examined it.

It looked to be some type of monument.  But it also looks like they ran out of money because side on it appears to have a ‘short back and sides’ haircut!  It’s really only a facade.

Looking inside it’s obviously a public drinking fountain (now closed) built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.  I wonder if that will be one of the questions in the “Life in the UK” test?

In the afternoon we “pottered” and surfed (the internet) killing time before moving on to Thatcham tomorrow.

Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race

It didn’t take much time to establish the Aldermaston control point for the canoe race at 8:15 this morning and shortly after the first of the canoeist started arriving.  Brian on nb Marbals decided he didn’t want his boat on the same side of the canal as the lock landing where it might get knocked about by the canoeist so I helped him move it to the opposite side of the canal. 

Back at the boat the canoeist were passing in sizable numbers.  I think they were the canoeist doing the event over two days and had spent the night in Newbury.  It’s surprising how much the passing of a canoe can rock an 18 tonne narrowboat!   The morning canoeists were obviously travelling slower than those in the afternoon as they all plan to reach the finish point around the same time.

Some of the first faster canoes

There have been a number of boats passing us during the day.  Some travel quite slowly and don’t cause any issues whilst others don’t appear to throttle back and simply ignore you as they motor past.  They certainly weren’t all hire boats!

Roger & Nellie (the ducks) have reappeared and AGAIN taken up residence on Waiouru’s roof.  What with their “droppings” and the water splashed by the passing canoeists it would appear there was little value gained from washing Waiouru yesterday.

However this bird failed to show any interest in Waiouru’s roof!

Most of the day was spent pottering around!  Jan baked some hot crossed buns for lunch.  They were delicious when eaten with a slice of butter on top. 

We had a home made chinese dinner of dim sims, dumplings, rice and sweet & sour chicken.  The idea was to eat early (4:30pm) as I’m working at the control point from 6.00pm until the last of the canoeist pass in the early hours of tomorrow morning!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Good Friday…… Washing Day!

Whilst it was cold the sun did put in an appearance.  As planned, we dropped down through Aldermaston Lock and onto the services building.  However, first Jan put on a load of washing using almost the last of the water in the tank.

As the hose filled the tank at one end the washing machine continued to empty it at the other.  Not

to be outdone by Jan’s washing efforts I extracted the bottle of bio liquid wash from the depths of the locker and scrubbed down Waiouru’s roof.  The tank hadn’t filled so the starboard side also received a wash.  It wasn’t until I’d made a start on the gunwale that the tank started to overflow.

After rinsing off all the suds we pulled Waiouru back off the water point in case another boater wanted the tap and then washed and cleaned the cockpit. 

We then dropped the pram cover in anticipation of the short voyage in the afternoon.  Jan had baked a loaf of bread for lunch and the warm slices made delicious tomato sandwiches. Our timing was rather good as another had just come down through the lock avoiding the need for Jan to empty it. 

Our afternoon cruise was less than a kilometre as we don’t want to be too far from Aldermaston because I’m assisting with the Devises to Westminster canoe race tomorrow.

We could have returned to our former towpath mooring but decided to was too close to the lock mooring and anticipated there would be considerable congestion in the area with all the hundreds of canoeist attempting to use the landing during the race.  We’ve opted for a quieter spot where (hopefully) we won’t get quite a “bashed around” as last time!

Butty Cygnus

We found a mooring just in front of this small group of boats.  The toilet holding tank isn’t quite half full but we’re well down at the stern making it difficult to get beside the bank.

Folding gangplank out and the pram cover back up.

Jan then asked for the rotary clothes line to be erected on the top of the bicycle carrier post so she could finish drying the washing from this morning.

It’s now time to sit down and start re-reading the “Life in the UK” book and catch up with family news.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Plans

We have such a warped sense of humour!

Stolen from eldest son’s Facebook page.  He must have inherited his parents sense of humour!

The plan for Easter is to spend Friday taking a very short cruise to the water point in the pound where we will fill the water tank whilst simultaneously emptying it via the washing machine.  After the water hose has exhausted the washing machine we will cruise about 700 metres towards Newbury before again mooring somewhere in the countryside.

On Saturday I have volunteered to assist the the running of the Devises to Westminster Canoe Race.  If it’s anything like last year, the duties will involve traffic control over the bridge at Aldermaston Wharf along with the recording of contestants race numbers.  These get reported to the race control headquarters where they keep track of contestants progress.  Apparently I’ve drawn the late shift which means I’ll be unlikely to make it to bed before the early hours of Sunday morning.  Jan will either have to give me a key or accept being dragged from her slumbers in a cosy warm bed!

With a little luck we’ll head towards Thatcham sometime on Sunday.  Hopefully all the weekend hire boaters will either still be ahead of us, having left two days earlier, or perhaps coming towards us on their return journey.  Either way we’re hoping it will be quiet.

If the weather is bad on Monday it will be a rest day, otherwise we’ll do some maintenance around the boat.  The roof could do with a good wash along with the cabin sides and the portholes.  The tentative plan is to be at Newbury by Thursday where we plan to go on a dodgem car race with the trolleys around the isles in Sainsbury’s.  Jan wants to bulk buy long life milk, flour and other dried goods.  It will be a good opportunity to fill the pantry and storage cupboards.

Gary slipped past us very quietly on nb Molly early this morning.  He has offered the use of her to the race organisers as a base for the local race officials.  Last year they use the K&A Cafe, but that is currently closed until June.  Gary told me there was a small incident when winding Molly in the river this morning.  Apparently the bow got caught by the current which resulted in the stern being pushed towards a large tree.  He though everything would be alright but events proved him wrong!  A branch of the tree got hooked in his clothing and before he could free himself he was plucked off the stern of the boat and left dangling momentarily above the river before the branch snapped under his weight depositing him in some very cold water!

He did safely recover from the situation but was rather cold and wet when he passed us.  It’s also his second mobile phone in two months that he has thoroughly washed in the River Kennet!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Tasty Red Sausages

When the Jones family left NZ for England in 1957 we said goodbye to one of my favourite foods.  Tasty saveloys!  During the three years we lived in England mum never bought any claiming they were only available back in NZ.  These days I think she was fibbing!

Jan was able to buy six in Sainbury’s earlier this week and cooked them last night for my dinner.  The interesting thing about these English saveloys is; unlike the NZ version; the water in the pot wasn’t heavily stained red as a result of them being boiled.

You may wonder why we’ve mentioned such a boring subject? As I was devouring them last night I was reminded of an occasion some years ago when I was serving in the NZ Army.  My neighbour, the Brigade Major, had approached me about replacing him as the chairman of the local school committee to which I agreed.  Shortly thereafter the school principal approached me to inform me of some disturbing information he had received from one of the younger teachers.  The teacher had held a class ‘morning talk’ and asked one child what interesting thing had happened to them the previous day.  The child replied

“My sister and I had red soup for dinner last night”

The teacher corrected him stating “No….. you mean tomato soup!”

The child then said “No Miss… Mum and Dad had the red sausages and we had the red soup!”

We appeared to have a problem, which resulted in me having a quiet discussion with the soldier’s unit commander.  As any ex serviceperson will know; the armed services are a family.  We look after each other and dependants!  No more ‘red soup’!  Enjoy the red sausages!

Jan is getting tired of knitting her new scarf.  She has been using the last of the wool from her cardigan to knit it and the scarf appears to be taking ages to finish.

“Only another foot to go!”  That comment nearly got me a knitting needle buried in my throat!  However I do like the pattern.

It should be finished just in time for Spring! Smile

Waiting for the weather to improve has provided time to think about the most effective battery charging regime.  At the conclusion of the Bulk stage there is a surface charge on the plates which then takes the batteries some time to absorb.  I’m wondering whether it might be more effective to run the engine in the morning until the batteries are 80-90% charged and then leave them for the day to absorb the surface charge.  Then run the engine at the end of the day to being the batteries up to 100%.  Just a theory!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Oh Dear

Is this why there has been no response to my repeated queries to the UK Border Agency?

From the Herald Sun Australia


AUSTRALIANS who have experienced frustrating delays when extending their visa in Britain will feel some vindication with the publication of a damning report into the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

The Home Affairs select committee has warned that at the current rate of progress it would take 24 years to clear a backlog of asylum and immigration cases the size of the population of Iceland at the UKBA.

Between July and September last year, four new types of backlog came to light, taking the total number of cases to almost 313,000.

TNT magazine, a free weekly publication for Aussie and Kiwi expats in the UK, launched a campaign a month ago demanding the UKBA lift its game.

Group editor Carol Driver says the committee report proves the agency is inefficient and shambolic.

Driver said it shouldn't be so torturous to apply for an extension to an existing visa or for leave to remain in Britain.

"We've received a huge number of horror stories from readers who are paying for this service," Driver said. "It's something that you wouldn't stand for in the private sector."

Driver believes the UK government agency needs a "massive overhaul".

Monday's report suggests applications could be processed in 45 minutes, but many Australians have told TNT they haven't heard from UKBA for 10 months.

Unless people pay for a premium service, they have to surrender their passport to the border agency for that period.

For the first six months, the UKBA won't even accept inquiries about applications, Driver says.

TNT magazine's online petition demands a helpline be set up to provide updates at any time "not only after six months".

It also wants visas processed within three months for those eligible to work.

"It's unacceptable that people who want to work and travel in the UK and boost the economy - who have no rights to claim benefits - aren't able to due to UKBA inefficiency," Driver said


So a  delay of up to 10 month waiting for your application to be processed and the UKBA won’t even respond to any queries until after 6 months has elapsed.  Not good news!  No wonder the operators are all too busy to take my telephone calls or answer my emails.  I bet they don’t take 10 months to bank the £1000 visa application fee which is required to accompany my application documents. 

I can see there will be only one way for the UK government to resolve this mess….. Should I save ourselves £1000 and just wait for the amnesty? Smile

On a more positive note, the battery automatic watering system is now fully operational.  It appears the normal configuration is to have a pressurized system.  However ours is gravity fed.  The last part of the puzzle solution was to ensure there was a continuous “downward” run in the tube thus preventing any airlocks.  The new battery caps have been checked and distilled water will flow from them if the integral float drops.

The other thing we have noticed is it is taking less time to recharge the domestic battery bank and the bank is lasting longer.  Initially thoughts were the Smartgauge might be inaccurate, but then I read the battery manual which stated the batteries do not reach 100% capacity until they have been recharged approximately 50 times.  I suppose it’s a little like running in a new car (if you can remember back to the ‘old days’!)

I’ve already read the “Life in the UK” book once.  Much of it started to become familiar as memories from my schooldays returned.  It’s now a case of sorting the ‘wheat from the chaff’.  The plan is to do this using a coloured highlighter during the second reading.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Coats off!

No, not us…. Coats off the possums!

In 1960 our family (the Jones family) returned to NZ after spending three years in the UK.  It was quite a shock to discover my new school mates spoke funny and didn’t wear shoes.  However it didn’t take long for me to re-assimilate and become yet another kiwi urchin.  Within a year I had learned to make a trap and catch my first possum.  My father showed me how to skin and tan the pelt.  Before you knew it I had a small enterprise going. 

Possums (opossum) are not native to NZ having be introduced from Australia where they are a protected species.  With no natural predators to keep numbers under control they rapidly spread throughout NZ and are considered vermin.

Eventually I lost interest in my enterprise and it wasn’t until fifteen years later (in 1976) that I again started tanning possum pelts.  This time I had a specific purpose… a hat!  I’d seen a photo of Russians wearing those fur hats and decided to making one of my own to wear on a cold winter day.  The cunning plan was to make a warm hat at no cost by have the fur on the inside with the exterior being covered using material recovered from an old army green shirt.

1976 - Only part made, yet already a ‘hit’ with one member of the family

Although the hat was completed, it never received much use as we moved to warmer climates.  However whilst rummaging though an old steel trunk in preparation for our move to the UK it was re-discovered and so the hat received a second life.

Yes….. it makes the wearer look damned silly.  But it’s lovely and warm! Smile

Jan went off to check if Postman Pat had called with any postl for us and returned bearing parcels. 

The original tie-down straps from the 99p shop proved to be too flimsy and required replacing.  The four above were purchased from Amazon at around £8.  We only require two but it was actually cheaper to purchase four.

The second parcel contained my study material.

I’ve confined myself to just purchasing the actual ‘Life in the UK’ book after deciding the other two associated books (test questions and answers + study book) weren’t essential.  The test questions and answers book contains 400 example questions and answers (but not the actual exam questions) drawn from the material in the ‘Life in the UK’ book.  There are only 24 questions to the exam and the pass mark is at least 75%.  Now I’ll be able to read in bed instead of counting sheep.

The other post contained our new bus passes (valid until 2017).  The only outstanding post is Jan’s birth certificate!  She was born… I’ve seen the cute belly button!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

A few odd jobs

This morning it was time for the weekly Sunday morning call to dear old mum in Perth, Western Australia.  She turns 85 later in the week!  Despite nothing of interest occurring during the week at either end of the conversation we somehow seem to be able to fill in an hour.  It’s comforting to hear her explain she is hanging onto life and despite a large number of physical ailments mum declares she has no intention of falling off her perch!  However being informed the temperature at her end is 30º+ isn’t that comforting when you’re looking out the porthole and the falling snow!  Smile

After yesterday’s visit to purchase red diesel today was obviously the time to empty the container into the tank.  However the tasks was deferred until this afternoon because it started to snow in the morning.  Whilst the actual task of decanting the diesel doesn’t take much time the preparation takes considerably longer.  First the folding gangplank has to be moved as it is secured over the fuel cap.  Then the difficult part occurs…. unlocking the cap!  Getting the key into the lock in cold weather and then turning it is always difficult.  The actual lock mechanism has now received a squirt of WD40 in the hope it makes the process easier.

Paul (Waterways Routes) left a query on an earlier post asking if our 3V fuel pump would siphon once the diesel started to flow.  After testing it today I can confirm it does NOT!  However the two 1.5V batteries have now moved in excess of 150 litres so I’m impressed with the pump.

As it was Sunday we decided to treat ourselves to a “Sunday Roast” at the local pub (The Butt Inn).  Jan had the roast beef whilst I chose the lamb.  Jan doesn’t like the smell of lamb so it’s one of the few occasions I get to eat it.  We both opted for the fresh berry dessert served on a bed of crushed meringue and whipped cream.  The locals in the pub informed us such a savage start to Spring means we are going to have a glorious Summer.   They had better be right!  After stuffing ourselves we had to wobble back to Waiouru and collapse into our captain’s chairs to recover.

The outside temperature has been hovering around 3ºC whilst we stay inside Waiouru all “toasty” warm in T-shirts at 23ºC.  Jan has continued knitting her matching scarf whilst I’ve been reading my eBook Reader.  However at some stage we’ll need to venture outside for a brisk walk in a effort to overcome the delicious roast lunch.  Probably dinner as well because Jan has decided to bake scones which we are having with home made Aldermaston plum jam and whipped cream <burp!>

So not a hell of a lot happened today!

More on the battery watering system

We woke early this morning.  I knew it because the bedroom was dark.  Peering through one half closed eye I noticed there was snow covering the Houdini hatch glass.  So it wasn’t early after all!

Not being able to go cruising has become so depressing I decided to end it all and shove my head in the stove…….

After five minutes Jan informed me my head was in the wrong stove! Smile 

OK… back to being serious.  We’re still enjoying this boating business, even if we haven’t been able to go anywhere.  And I was just checking the stove had lit properly!

After breakfast it was time to identify the problem with the automatic battery watering system.  The tubing was drained and the distilled water carefully returned to the header tank.  Then the Flow Meter was removed.  It has one 8mm nozzle on the primary side and two 5mm nozzles on the secondary.  I tried blowing air through the meter but there was a blockage.  After a deep breath I tried really hard to blow through the meter and almost blew the valve in the seat of my trousers.  The next attempt was to push the nib of a biro down the primary nozzle.  This revealed there was a spring loaded valve preventing the chamber from opening.  It appears the Flow Meter is designed to be fitted to a pressurized water line.  One assumes if the header tanks runs out of water then the valve will close.  Our header tank is gravity fed which means there will never be sufficient pressure to open the valve.  But the Flow meter is required in our system because it’s the device that splits our 8mm tube into two 5mm tubes.  To overcome the problem I’ve rigged a temporary solution and jammed the Flow Meter valve open with a tooth pick.  The system was then reassembled and water flowed through the meter to the battery caps.  The header tank is now almost empty which means we need to purchase more distilled water.

After lunch we took the folding sack trolley and a diesel container down to the marina to purchase more diesel for the Lockgate Refleks stove.  This involved a certain amount of manoeuvrings in the cockpit whilst we both got into jackets and boots.  Fortunately the temperature isn’t low enough to turn the snow to ice and the gangplank therefore wasn’t the hazard it might have been.

The snow on the towpath is quickly turning to water.

There is still snow on the roof of Waiouru which reinforces to us the effectiveness of the insulation.

Further down the towpath we came upon this hardy gentleman.  I thought the expression was “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun!”  Fishing in this weather?  It’s too cold for the fish!

He informed Jan there hadn’t been a bite all morning and he was going to give up.

The bridge was up whilst the contractors complete some scheduled maintenance.  It looked like they were replacing the hydraulic hoses and some of the hydraulic valves. 

It’s the second consecutive weekend the bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic.  However pedestrians can still cross using a temporary bridge on the far side.

After almost 20 years of working in Australia one became used to working in very hot and dry conditions.  It was important to remain hydrated.  This is the other extreme!  Still, I think our blood is thickening!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

A busy day

We had a very long day.  It started in the morning with a visit to the blacksmith to advise him we have decided not to proceed with the manufacturing of the folding step for the cratch.  The quoted cost was well outside our budget and we’ve decided to reconsider the matter. 

The construction adhesive had set and the tube into the header tank for the battery watering system seemed to be very secure.  So the tank was filled for the first time and there were no leaks.  That was the good news.  The bad news is the water stopped at the Flow Meter.  For some reason yet to be determined the Flow Meter is preventing the flow of water. Time was running out and the problem has now been left until tomorrow when there will be time for an more detailed examination of the problem.

Jan had baked another of her delicious bread loaves half of which we managed to devour for lunch.  there’s something about the smell of freshly baked bread that makes your mouth water!  After lunch she went to check if any post had arrived whilst I decided to go for a long walk.  Not the most sensible of decisions as the heavens opened 40 minutes after leaving Waiouru.  I almost wimped out and turned back, but in the end decided to be stupid courageous and carry on.  As I climbed to higher ground the temperature dropped and the wind picked up.  The lightweight trousers were soaking wet and the wind was going straight though the shower jacket.  By coincidence part of the planned route was through a wood in Upper Bucklebury.  This significantly reduced the wind chill factor and allowed the trousers to dry.  I managed to record four more footpaths on the gps and they were all uploaded to the OSM on my return to the boat.  Only a 4½ hour walk but the rain and the cold made it feel longer.

The return was via the towpath from Thatcham to Aldermaston Wharf.  Although we haven’t had much rain the low lying ground is back to being flooded and the River Kennet is starting to rise again.  Time for a hot shower and something warm to eat.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Header Tank

The Australian distributor of automatic battery watering systems responded to my initial query by providing me with a detailed list of required components and their prices.  I noted the cost of the system header tank was approximately A$100 <ouch!> and then realised it had a capacity of 20 litres.  Two things immediately sprang to mind.  The first was the cost and the second, the size of the container!  There is nowhere in the semi-trad area where we can locate a 20 litre container.  Then I realised the 20 litre container was probably designed for a static installation where it would supply a large number of unattended batteries over an extended period.  I therefore excluded it from our list opting instead to make my own.  On reflection I should also have excluded the plastic tubing.  It has proven to be very expensive having both purchased it and paid for postage all the way to the UK.  If I ever did this again I’d probably only purchase the battery caps and save ourselves more money.

The 1 litre cider container was left overnight filled with a water and dish washing solution in a successful effort to remove the smell of cider.  Today a 10mm hole was drilled in the side immediately above the base and then widened with a round file.  I made the decision to locate the hole in the side rather than the base because I’ll probably need to sit the container on something inside the locker.

The tube into the container is a very snug fit, however I wanted to ensure it was both sealed and secure so construction adhesive has been applied to the joint.  It was the first time I’d used the new caulking gun since purchasing it in the 99p shop.  Damned thing promptly bent in my hands when I squeezed the handle!  Sometimes it doesn’t pay to by cheap. Sad smile  In the end I had to resort to using my fat index finger to smear the adhesive.  No….. I didn’t accidentally put my finger in my ear afterwards! Hopefully it will have set by tomorrow morning and I’ll then be able to do a first “test fill”.

Now everything I took out of the bow thruster locker this morning has to go back in.  This is because the tube of construction adhesive is kept in the bottom <sigh>.  Oh…… And before someone decides to leave a snide knowledgable comment.  I have drilled a small hole in the cap of the new header tank to minimize the possibility of an air lock occurring!

Meanwhile Jan has standing been out in the cold on the towpath phoning the bank back in Australia (no Vodafone signal inside Waiouru).  She discovered the bank has an advanced version of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) telephone answering system.  After about 7 seconds Jan realised she was conversing with a Dalek (robot).  Apparently the robot was very polite and at one point asked “May I call you Jan?”  The robot might have been polite but it couldn’t answer Jan’s query.  Another A$40 donated to Vodafone!

The former paint pot has now received two coats of primer and a further two coats of bilge paint.  When it’s dry the pot can go back on the roof over the stove flue hole.  Next job……. After emptying much of the bow thruster locker I noticed there was water in the base.  Everything will have to again come out on a fine day so all the water can be removed.  Jan has also pointed out water sometimes squirts out the water tank breather valve which is mounted high on the front bulkhead wall in the cratch.  I think I know why this is happening and unfortunately there no “easy fix”.  Another summer job!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Two Necklaces

We woke this morning to find an overcast and chilly day……… But no rain!  Seizing the moment we caught the bus to the Sainsbury’s supermarket at Calcot.  Jan went the whole way whilst I debussed at “Milehouse Cottages” so I could talk to ‘Bernie’ the ironmonger about my idea for a folding step at the cratch.  It was only a 10 minute conversation to explain the drawings and then I caught the next bus to Calcot where I joined Jan in the supermarket.  We have a routine.  Jan buys the essentials and whilst she’s not looking I throw the “luxuries” into the trolley!

We exited Sainsbury’s to see the Newbury bus waiting at the stop so we both scurried across the car park getting aboard just before the doors closed.  Nice timing……… for a change!

Back at Waiouru we dragged out the folding sack trolley from the back cabin and the two empty fuel containers from the engine compartment.  Then it was a trip down to the wharf where we purchased 50 litres of diesel for the Hurricane heater.  Whilst we needed some diesel for the heater it was more of a trial run to test whether we could transport diesel using the trolley.

The sack trolley worked but the 99p ratchet straps are a failure.  They are too flimsy so we’ll need to look for something more substantial.

However the Hurricane was very thankful for the drink and the 3V diesel pump is still working using the original batteries (to my surprise!).

The last part of the afternoon was spent fitting the domestic battery bank automatic watering system.  After looking at the four batteries I decided to configure the watering system so the batteries were fed in pairs with 6 cells to each pair.  This meant I needed to make two ‘necklaces’ of battery caps and connecting tubing.

Each necklace needed four short lengths of tubing and one long.  A blind cap is fitted to one end whilst the other end will connect to the Flow Meter.  I was concerned about being able to twist the caps onto the battery cell hole but discovered (to my relief) that the top section of the cap twists independently to the base.  The more difficult batteries are on the port side so they were fitted first.

There is very little clearance between the top of the batteries and the underside of the deck.  Moreover much of it is fitted with numerous cables and piping.  I’ve seriously scratched the backs of my hands and forearms fitting the necklace.  The starboard side was slightly easier.

However by this time the sulphuric acid in the electrolyte was making its way into the scratches which I found somewhat unpleasant.

The open ends to the necklaces meet in the middle of the battery bank and connect to the Flow Meter.

The Flow Meter has been mounted on the front face of the battery bank where we hope it will be easy to observe.  The small yellow beads are supposed to move when water is flowing into the batteries.

All the tubing has been secured where it’s relatively easy to inspect.  The header tank end terminates in the cockpit port locker.

Blue arrows point towards the tubing.

The tubing to the header tank hasn’t been cut to length.  My intention is to deliberately leave it long until I can establish whether locating the header tank in the locker will provide sufficient head to top-up the cells in the batteries.  If it does NOT provide sufficient pressure I will leave the tubing uncut.  This will enable the header tank to be removed from the locker and held in the air to increase the pressure. 

We have two outstanding tasks before the system can be commissioned.  First, Jan has to drink the half litre of cider in (what will be) the header tank.  I may have to help her…….  OK it’s an onerous task… but someone has to do it!  The second task is to modify the plastic container so the end of the watering system tube connects to it.

At the moment the batteries do not require any water and we have been using them for four months.  I’m therefore hoping we will only need to check the header tank and watering system quarterly.  time will tell!

LATER.   We tried drinking the remaining side…… Well I did as Jan point blank refused!  Unfortunately Jan had made the correct decision as the damned stuff tasted like sulphuric acid.  No matter how hard I tried, after two sips I couldn’t bring myself to drink the stuff so it went out the side hatch.  Apparently we now have fish floating upside down in the cut beside the boat! Smile