Wednesday, 28 January 2009

How long is a piece of string?

I have had this said to me so many times. It is a simple answer 13 and 3/4 inches.

So if you ever get asked, its 13 and 3/4 inches.
Ok so why have I measured a piece of string. Simple, I wanted some brackets for the exhausts on my motorbike. The company I was buying from quoted two diameters (?) so I used the string to measure the circumference and then used some maths off the internet which included a pie to calculate the diameter I needed.
But its good to know how long a piece of string is !

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Slow day on the Mac

Not the lovely Macclesfield canal we were on last year - rather my Mac computer. I like messing with computer, but to a point, that was why got the Mac - now I'm messing with the Mac.

Its all to do with web pages and wireless speeds. Just recently the loading of pages has got painful, so I googled slow mac connections and found this useful bit of discussion and tips. It has speeded up my machine, but I'm still not happy as I've been doing some scientific side by side experiments with my vista laptop and it seems to win out just about every time and sometime the web pages take a lot longer to actually connect. The above fix has helped but I need MORE performance from the Mac.

Its on trial and I do like it but, but, but - there is something not quite right. I am of course overlooking all the positives the Mac offers, but I expect computing perfection.

So on the off chance anyone has advice on connecting Macs to wireless (draft n router) please get in touch. Also how do I measure the connection speed and signal I am getting??

Answer in the comments if you will be so kind.


Monday, 26 January 2009

Some personal stuff.....

Ok, not really personal personal, but a few things that are being processed by my grey matter at this time

Leia Update

Leia, our rescue dog is an absolute pleasure. We could not have hoped for a better natured dog. She is settled into our family life so well. Today we are having her spayed (horrible term) One of out responsibilities in having a rescue dog is to make sure she does not have pups. Its a shame as she has such a nice temperament, but equally any pups she might have would mean other dogs may get left un homed, which is not what we want. I will go and collect her later, I'm sure I'll have to build some trust bridges, after I took her to a place where they caused her pain and stress, but she is so devoted to the family (especially me, which makes me very happy) so I'm sure she will soon recover.

Motor Bike

Andy from Khayamanzi comments that many boaters have interests in either motorbikes or steam engines etc. I am one such person. I blogged a while ago about my 'new bike (ish)'

I really like my Ducati, it fits the bill for the occasional ride out and the trip to Waterlily via Ashbourne is a cracking ride out. However I have a hankering for a touring bike. I would like a Pan European but they are really for serious touring. So I am being draw to swapping my P&J for a Honda Deauville (horrible name)

So what do you think...... Not as sexy as the Ducati but very usable? Decisions, decisions - I think a road test is on the cards (plus I need to get a sensible price for my Ducati if she is to go)- I'll let you know.


Seems like a transport blog this. We are looking to get rid of our T reg Rover 420 for something I can get insured for my lads to drive (they are both taking lessons at the moment) To add them to the Rover insurance would be £2,200 , absolutely daft. To insure my eldest for his own car, even the lowest group was £1,500 So we are looking for a 1.2 Polo 5 door to swap the Rover for, at least when they pass their test they can get insurance, even if it is silly money.


I really wish I could be a little more carefree. Planning is something I do, and I think I do it too much. As an example re the motorbikes above - I am thinking about what I'll do when the time comes to spend more time of the boat (retirement or semi retirement) Should I keep the motorbikes - should I even think about exchanging, will I get the use of if the bike, should I sell the bike and put it to the boat painting fund....... I user to be undecided, but now I'm not sure....... I think, no I will plan not to plan so much in the future !

There is much other stuff going on but this is a primerily a boating blog so I'll leave the jam making concerns for another day,


Saturday, 24 January 2009

Anal about batteries

Sorry for this, but I want to refer back to it to help my understanding of the battery systems on Waterlily.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Jerry can help me out

I am the proud owner of 2 Jerry cans from Aldi these two helpers will enable me to keep Waterlily topped up while she is on her mooring.

When we are aboard - especially at weekends the more regular (live-a-boards) boaters can be observed with their wheelbarrows bringing home the red stuff.

I have read that keeping the boats diesel tank full stops condensation getting in the fuel system. When we picked Waterlily up from the brokers she had a full tank of Diesel. I am sure it was not the broker who filled her up, more likely the previous owner as he seemed quite on the ball over his boat maintenance. Just a shame for him he never saw the other side of the winter,


Thursday, 22 January 2009

Boat jobs....

After a lazy Saturday on the boat last weekend I was feeling guilty enough to do a couple of simple little jobs on Waterlily on Sunday morning.

First one was to fit a decent external aerial. I have brought one from Wilkinsons that when I 'built it' it was far too big. I replaced in on a trip to Litchfield on the Saturday with a much more compact one that now sits very purposely on front cratch board using a proper aerial pole. I also tidied up all the cable for the aerial and satellite so I can plug whichever I want to use in - I like tidy cables !

I then replaced the plastic curtain track above the front doors with a nice brass pole to match it to all the other poles on the boat - not sure why the last owners used the plastic on the front curtains - it was very obvious when you came aboard.

I repaired the shower and sorted the lamp out in the lounge. All in all a very proactive morning. Doing these jobs gives me a better understanding of the boat and makes it feel more like mine (even though we have owned her for coming up to two years)

I found a receipt when clearing out a drawer that related to the fitting of the inverter and also a third battery. This help the history of the boat as we were unable to get any info from the previous owners as sadly the gent died which was why Waterlily was on brokerage.


Wednesday, 21 January 2009

3's 3g puts the Mac in peril

On our last trip to the boat I got really frustrated with the 3g dongle I have from 3. It actually went into the cut..... The connection was very poor and when it did connect it was mainly GPRS and that kept dropping.

A big issue is that there is no available software for the Mac using the broadband dongle. When I plug it into my little Sony it finds the software on the dongle and installs it. I can then see the data I am/have used and also the strength of connection and what connection I may get. Non of this is available for the Mac.

Rachel's solution is not to bring the Mac on the boat and use the Sony - I like the Mac, screen size, performance and keyboard, so I am loathed to stop using it because of threes incompetence (Vodafone do an application for the Mac but my work Vodafone dongle only gets GPRS on the boat, and they do not say there is 3g or HSDPA coverage at my moorings - BUT 3 Do !)

I tried the modem when back at home and it was much better on the Mac, but still without software I feel cheated and the connection on the boat was more reliable on the PC. One thing to try will be a long USB cable with the modem in a bag on the roof, it could be the boat is blocking the signal. However, as I will then not be able to see the lights flashing (this gives the speed of the active or potential connection), this is even more reason to get the Mac software sorted.

When I phoned 3 they just said keep checking back to their web page - quality customer service, not.

Steer clear of 3 I say they do not understand customer service or support Macs

Rant over

Ok some more information - I wrote the above on Monday and scheduled it to be published Tuesday. Andrew on Granny Buttons does this so it must be the right thing to do !

I posted to asking for advice and a really nice bloke called Richard Fairhurst replied and pointed me at a CheetahWatch this does everything the 3 software should do if it existed So stand up and take a bow Richard.


I really do not like to be beaten and will stubbornly think through solutions if I can. So I started looking for external ariels for the Modem to make it better (less risk of it going into the cut) but them it occurred to me I use my Mac at work and use my Vodafone phone via bluetooth using something called Bluetooth Pan network - effectively making my phones data network available via bluetooth connection to the Mac. I have acquired a good phone that will allow me to have the same set up but with the 3 sim in it. It works much better as I think the ariel built into the phone is so much more efficient and the connection seems solid - see below....

My tests

My vodaphone HSDPA network (solid connection to HSDPA) 1125 KB/s down 272 KB/s up
My 3 HSDPA network in the phone (solid connection to HSDPA) 1130 KB/S down 272 KB/s up
My 3 dongle HSPDA 1561 KB/S down 348kb/s up*

*Sounds good but the big issue is that the connection was jumping from HSDPA to WCDMA (3g) and this is with CheetaWatch showing a good signal.

Phew.... So bigger is not always better (ladies take note). I really need to go to the boat to repeat this experiment but putting the phone outside to get a better reception and to be fair to the dongle to do the same (downside will be the cable length)

I'll report back.....the Mac might have a reprieve yet


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Nice to meet you nice.....

I knew Sue and Vic from NB No Problem were on my patch from reading their excellent blog. I had left a comment saying I would look out for them while on Waterlily last weekend.

The way we drive to our mooring takes us over the visitor moorings at Bagnall lock, a quick scan of the moored boats and I saw what I thought to be their boat. We were intending to wind Waterlily to run the engine and get her facing the preferred direction (up the junction so's to speak) so we set off and I duly met Sue and Vic doing a large scale wood cut for the roof. Well Vic was doing the instructing while Sue did the moving. In Vic's defense he had a bad back after apparently carrying candles (brought at a knock down price) from a shopping trip in Burton on Trent. I hope Sue won't mind me commenting, she is tiny (I'm no giant ) but she was lumping the wood around very efficiently and with much enthusiasm.

It was really good to meet both Sue and Vic - they really are a friendly couple. On the photo's Sue takes Vic always seems to be missing a smile, (sorry Vic) but when I met him he was really friendly and has big smiles - note to Sue, get more pics of Vic smiling ;-)

Now I am back sitting driving this office desk I really am envious of their nomadic and free lifestyle

My Pic is not very good but I want to get it on the blog for posterity.

I need to check if both trees are still there ;-)

Take care you two and keep blogging.....


Monday, 19 January 2009

Pyjama bottoms, one slipper, a dongle and the egg lady off Mothers pearl what have they in common?

Here is a clue....

Yep, over our weekend aboard they all went into the cut !!

After winding the boat on Friday we were returning to our mooring when Rachel suggested we should stop for eggs at NB Mothers Peal on the off side between Bagnall and Common locks. We hailed her as we approached and while holding Waterlily breasted (just about) we did the transaction - then we asked for a bag of kindling wood and as she moved around the boat she disappeared and we heard a splosh - lucky for her it was on the bank side and she went in to to her bum level. We felt really bad - we never even laughed ! She took it in good heart but she earned her £5 for a dozen eggs (fresh that day) and a large bag of wood bits.

Later that evening after some Guinness and wine and a lot of frustration trying to surf the web, I'll blog about that later, I had my 3 broadband dongle hanging out of the window, I pulled the cable to get it in and it came off where it joined the extension cable - 12 gigabytes of future use took a dive in the cut !!!!

I was not sure if it would float or sink, as I rushed outside it was not floating... but luckily (on 2 counts) the canal was quite clear as no boats had been moving, and I had the white version of the dongle. I could see it lying in the mud on the bottom. I used my garden rake (from doing BW's job of mowing and clearting my mooring grass) to locate it after failed attempts with the boat hook. Every attempt disturbed the masses of mud on the bottom. In moving down the side of the boat, plop, in went my slipper, that was thinking about sinking in sympathy with the dongle(my slippers are black) but was lifted out by the boat hook just in time.

I eventually recovered the dongle and feared the worst, I took out the sim and left in to dry out near the stove overnight. I was very please to find it was still working when plugged in the next afternoon - just a shame the Internet connection from 3 was so poor...

Then on Sunday when Rachel was cleaning the boat she decided to give the duvet a good shake and managed to shake my pyjama bottom into the cut... once again the boat hook did its stuff.

I hope that these episodes complete the cut dipping for the wells family for 2009 !


Thursday, 15 January 2009

Links to my blog

I think it is only fair that I reciprocate boaters who have my blog listed on their sites. So on checking today where visitors were coming from I noted and added Lazydays I've also added Alan and Frances' (is the apostrophe thing in the right place I wonder?) to my updated links list.

Welcome aboard my humble blog,


Edited to also include Pickles No. 2 Welcome aboard Pete and also John & Fiona from NB Epiphany plus Heather from WB takeytezey and Pip and Roger from NB Windsong

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A big fan of these...

I have hankered after one of these for some time now.

I wasn't shopping to buy one - but when checking out my double skin chimney at Shobnall boat yard I clocked one on their stove so it was an impulse buy.

It went straight onto the stove on the boat and with only a two hour Wilko log in the Squirrel it was spinning like a top. It did feel warmer, a more even warm if you knw what I mean and the boat did get warmer quicker, we'll see how it goes and report back.

The Smartgauge is doing its job. Normally we'd run the engine on every visit, but last time aboard it was saying the batteries were down to 69% so the engine was not run. Hopefully this weekend we'll take Waterlily down to Alrewas to wind her so she'll get a good run and charge, I'll record the before and after readings on the smartgauge.


Sunday, 11 January 2009

The price of a Satuday lie in

I took advantage of a lazy Saturday morning yesterday and got into reading canal world forum specifically about battery condition monitoring. I have been concerned for some while about how long to run the engine when we have a weekend on the boat, the 3 leisure batteries seem to cope but it all feels a bit hit and miss. I have occasionally taken readings using my multimeter but to be honest they mean little.

So having read the thread on battery monitoring I bit the bullet and drove over to Beaston Marina this morning and parted with £150 and left with a small box of electrics that is seemingly well recommended and is known as a smartgauge. This little (and it is small) gadget will tell me what the voltage readings are for my leisure batteries as well as the starter. It will also tell me what % of charge my leisure batteries are at. This is what I wanted and it will give me the info I need to allow me to correctly charge the leisure batteries up and monitor usage.

So this afternoon I went to the boat and spent a couple of hours fitting it. The actual wiring up is simple (part of the attraction) getting the wires to where I wanted to mount it took the time.

I wanted it inside the boat so I could check the readings without going into the cold - plus I was not 100% sure it was weather tight. In the end I got it in installed on the side of the small wardrobe at the end of the bed, just near the rear door.

It was working straight away and giving the following readings

As installed with the engine running

Leisure - 13.90v
Starter - 14.15v

After 15 mins and the engine off

Leisure - 12.60v
Starter - 13.35v

No doubt the leisure was down as I was using the lights.

The % charged on the leisure batteries was 74% but this will not be accurate until a few cycles of charge and use have taken place.

Another nice little job done and the benefit will be gained over the coming year.


Friday, 9 January 2009

Summer cruising plans

Yes, we are going to have a summer this year. I have it on order, starting mid April and breaking with a big thunder storm on my birthday in August. So relax its covered.

My lack of cruising action has got me thinking about where we might find ourselves this year on the boat. Our first trip on Sylph our shared ownership boat was up the Caldon. I like the route to Stoke from Fradley, a long week to Frogshall basin will be in order.

When we brought Waterlily up from Whilton in 2007 after we had purchased her we had a great run up the North Oxford and the Coventry. I'd like to re run this, maybe taking in the Ashby in a two weeker.

One thing we will not be doing this year is taking our two weeks in the school holidays. This year our youngest finishes sixth form so from about mid May we will not have kids at school any more and so be free from taking holidays in the busy periods.

They haven't been coming on the smaller holidays we have had recently, they just like the cruises (big ships not canal) and the America trips - there's a surprise!!

So we will be mainly overnighting during the summer holidays, in and around Fradley, it can be the best way to enjoy Fradley in the quite summer evenings.

So, The Caldon and Ashby will be the 2009 and wealth willing


Thursday, 8 January 2009

One time only....

Andrew on Granny Button has let us know of a little gadget for our blogs which is a UK waterways website (or in my case blog) ranking widget.

Mr Tony Blews stand up and take a bow for writing this for us after Andrew suggested it would be a good idea to have a UK version of a similar US ranking tool.

So my blog is registered and for one time only is ranked number 2 of only a few that will very soon pass me and leave my scribbles in the dust.

So for the record,

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Political comment warning.....

How sad was I to wake up the other morning to the news that Wedgewood was being put into receivership. The Wedgewood moorings on the T&M are always a stop off for us before we go into/through Stoke. We have taken visitors to their factory and done the tour, now it will all cease. Its even more sad to think that this industry gave rise to the canals we enjoy so much today. It was a much better way of moving delicate pottery to the ports at Shardlow and the North east than packhorses.

Its so annoying that this industry, this company that actually makes things - what our country was built on - basic industry, is allowed to sink without trace whilst the fat cat bankers are bailed out after playing monopoly with our money, going unchecked for so many years.

I really feel for all those good hard working individuals that have worked at the factory for so many years. Good luck lads and lasses in getting some other meaningful employment.

My last memory will be of listening to the distant clatter of proper work early one morning while walking Leia to Trentham lock when we moored near by last summer.

I hope the Armitage factory will keep going as this also is one very iconic landmark on the canal near us. All those toilets are a fantastic metaphor for the industry the canal supported and relied on ..... I'm off to find a dark room !


Monday, 5 January 2009

I really am missing something.....

My bout of man flu has eased to an annoying cough. I really was ill between Christmas and the New Year and felt sooo bad, I celebrated New Year with the first meal for a while - 6 fish fingers and a lemsip, I do man flu real well ;-)

So after looking forward to a nice week and a bit off, it all slipped by mainly in bed feeling poo. My first day of feeling anything like normal and I'm back at work. This is made all the more frustrating by reading my regular blogs, and enjoying their descriptions and photo's of the ice on the cut. I have just checked back to when we were on board last year and were frozen in

So a thank you in no real order to the following for my iced in fix for tonight. I will try and get to Waterlily before the ice goes way....

Piston Broke

Keep blogging.....