Thursday, 31 December 2009

Ralph Freeman writes about heating your boat...

I have just finished reading Ralph Freemans latest update on Narrowboat world. Ralph is always a good read in my opinion and this update has a really useful piece on heating your boat. He certainly picks the pro's and cons of the main types of heating very well.

I have thought about some form of extra heating for hot water and the couple of rads I have aboard. However having read Ralph's thoughts I think I have the best option (Back boiler Squirrel). I have blogged before on the joys of a wood burning stove aboard a boat - one thing I did not realise is that excessive wind outside can draw the fire even with the vents closed off. One thing to be aware of in the future and good reason to have ash ready to dampen down the fire.

I have also read of ash being put on top of the coals at night to keep the fire burning slow overnight. Both good reasons to get an ash can.

On our Ownerships boat we had both a solid fuel stove and gas heating - the gas made us lazy and we did not use the fire as much as we should have. We also had to replace the gas at what is now a high cost.

We have a couple of fire bricks in our squirrel, I have never removed them, I presume if I did I'd have a bigger fire = hotter stove? Last week when aboard I put the temp gauge from my multi meter on the stove and it showed 71c with the inside boat temp being 21c. We have never cooked on the stove - not a lot of room but something to try if we can get 71c from it?


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Now Halfie now.............

Getting a mention on Granny Buttons is seemingly worth 10 places on the UK Waterways counter, so come on Halfie do your thing with the top 30........ ;-)


Recharge ... its the only way to operate

Having recently posted about my batteries (electricity is the next most popular topic after toilets for boaters) I reflected once again on living aboard. Seems to me recharging has massive advantages for boaters - in fact a good proportion of boaters live and freeze by their batteries. There are some that hook up with all the issues of galvanic isolation but in the main and through the year we rely on recharging our batteries. We do this with the help of our engine, mines a Beta Marine and therein lies the benefit. When cruising I will be recharging like mad....
  • Laptop
  • Torch
  • Radio
  • Boat batteries
  • Two way radios
  • Phones
I have just brought a 1 million candle power (?) rechargeable torch from Halfords for £9.99 that comes with a 12v charger as well as a 240v wall wart. Plus my lads got me a nice portable DAB rechargeable radio for Christmas.

I have been thinking of getting a new telly for the boat but the ability to use my 17" laptop on batteries for TV and DVD's stopped the purchase - just another use of the free power whilst cruising......

One thing though I never have understood how extra load on the alternator increases the fuel consumption - is that a fact on a boat as well? The benefit must outweigh the small cost, but I'd still like to understand the impact.

So recharge, recharge I say and buy a Smartgauge so you know what the heck is happening with your batteries without the need for scrabbling under the deck boards with a multimeter.


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Maintenance update...

Just as soon as I posted this I had a problem with my electickery on board. Not a big problem but one that took a couple of attempts to sort. I went to charge my laptop and the inverter was not working. Suspecting a blown fuse I opened up the inverter (not to be recommended) but could not find a fuse. I then went to the box the previous owner had kept with the instructions and there was the spare fuse and instructions on where it went (in the cigarette charger plug) That was sorted with a smile and telly for the night via programs I had downloaded to my laptop via BBC's Iplayer while at home and then played back via a pc cable to the telly.

I have now found the manual for my engine that tells me a I need a recommended 25% mix of antifreeze against coolant to give me protection to -12c I will check what it is at present via the last RCR service record and also I'll but a tester from Halfords (I can check the cars at home as well) Hopefully it will be ok and if so I'll flush the system in the summer for next winter. Thanks to Paul from NB Piston Broke for his advice which pushed me to find out the service book.


Monday, 28 December 2009

Engine hours

I have been checking back on my blog posts last year and I was efficient in posting my engine hours when we were on the boat on the 27th December 2008. We were on the boat at the same time (well we came a day early this year) just a year ago. The engine hours count then was 134 and by the time we leave today it will be 285 - so we have run our engine for just 151 hours this year. I can imagine that compares very poorly to the likes of Bruce on Sanity and Sue on No Problem.

A couple of other observations.....

We ran out engine yesterday to charge the batteries and got them up to 95% on the smartgauge. This morning they were at 45% I don't think we have ever dropped such a large % which I have to assume means they are perhaps on their last legs. By July we will have owned Waterlily for 3 years and the batteries were not new when we got her (I think one might have been as I found a receipt for an third leisure battery to be fitted when the previous owners has the 150 watt inverter fitted. I recall reading it is never a good idea to add a new battery to old ones?)

I'll see how the batteries fair over the spring and summer but it could be when Midland Chandlers open at Mercia in the spring we will be a customer for three batteries. It would make sense to have them fitted at the same time as Waterlily is at Aqua for her new coat.

We fitted the engine counter early in 2008 so the 134 hours last year plus a bit before the engine counter was fitted means we are close to matching the same engine hours over two years!

Now I am going to look back on when were were aboard and where we went in 2009...


Sunday, 27 December 2009

Granny is met at last........

Yesterday we were just getting ready to go for our walk from Waterlily down the Coventry when a boat glided past towards Hunts lock. I looked out and clocked Andrew on Granny Buttons on his way through Fradley

We have exchanged emails but never met so it was nice to talk to Andrew.

He had a efficient crew so we carried on with our walk stopping to snap GB coming up to Junction Lock. Andrew told us he was heading towards Great Heywood which was fortuitous as the Coventry was very much iced up

We received the full Granny welcome of two bags of Buttons that only lasted enough time for the photo below (It was Rachel's packet that got scoffed !!)

It was nice to see Andrew on Granny Buttons on his travels again after two months of marina moorings, and I look forward to his travel log.

Now at least I can add him to my bloggers met on the cut list on the right.....


Saturday, 26 December 2009

All systems working - boxing day aboard

We have finally got to Waterlily - work, decorating and Christmas preparations seem a distant memory now - thankfully.

My concerns over Waterlily and the hard frosts were unfounded as all systems were soon operational and no obvious impacts of the severe freezing weather are evident. I have to presume we have lost a bit of blacking from boats moving and dragging some of the ice against our hull but such is life.

The fire is warming us after a nice walk to Fradley village (with a bit of Geocaching on the way).

I have to presume much of the boating traffic is on the Trent and Mersey as the Coventry is still iced over. While the T&M is just sporting floating ice - some of it is very thick.

If you zoom in on the front of the boat it looks like the bow wave was frozen in action....

We came back as the sun had gone down and the cold was reappearing after a reasonably warm day.

We will be doing a lot of nothing tonight and enjoying every minute of it.


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Leia update

Leia will be two early in the New Year. She is a smashing little dog and loved by all the family (even the cat I think) She is coming to the age where collie's tend to quieten down just a bit, but she still has her moments.

The reason for the post is that I have found a great photo of her 'dressing up' and living up to her name....Nev

Monday, 21 December 2009

Les on NB Valerie reminiscing post - Motorbikes and sidecars

Les on NB Valerie reminiscing post about his childhood is a good read - click here to read it if you have not already.

One reason I blog is to put stuff on record, so I can recall it, I think Les's post is excellent for this reason. I was looking for a photo of Leia by the fire on Waterlily when I found this old photo...

One of my favorites of my two lads in the sidecar I used to own when they were little.

Sidecars were a standard form of transport for the family in my dads era, so I am pleased I have this photo to recall how I used to move the family !


Sunday, 20 December 2009

Anonymous says I should be worried..... now I am!

Anonymous says I should be concerned about the antifreeze level of protection in my engine, so my concern levels have gone to up a degree or two right now and a visit is pending with a stop off for one of these little essentials.

I can't recall precisely what the RCR engineer said last time the engine was serviced. I know he checked the level of protection but whether he said it was OK to -5c -12c or -20c is lost to me. Better to be safe than sorry. Whilst the engine is under semi trad boards and with a decent cover over the stern the engine hole does have vents to the outside so the cold air can penetrate.

We don't winterise our boat because we use it over the winter, in fact I think I prefer winter cruising - just that this year other stuff has got in the way. I cycled past local pub last week and they were burning a boating mix for sure of house coal and wood because the smell immediately took me back to the cut. I can understand people wanting the cleanliness and convenience of a diesel stove but the smell alone of a wood burner does it for me every time.

Plus Leia likes our wood burner....

Anyhow...........decorating calls !!!

Take care


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Worried about me boat

All the decorating at home is taking its toll. We have not been to Waterlily for such a long time. Now I see on Metcheck it is going to be -5 today.....

I love proper winters. I don't mind being iced in - especially as next year in the spring we will be having a good reblacking so the ice should be not a problem.

Decorating takes soooooo long - especially as we try and do it properly. Good job there is limited scope for wallpapering and painting on a boat.

It would also be this year that we have not had the engine serviced so I am a little concerned about the protection level of the antifreeze - should I be worried ? Also should I be adding anything to the central heating water to stop that freezing?

Today is the last big push on the decorating and if we get it right we will be getting the house back to rites tomorrow. I'm off work for a couple of days next week so I may just drop all the Christmas prep (we still have not got a tree up or written a Christmas card) and visit the boat. I was thinking of dropping a days holiday ad going into work but sod it - all the same old same old will be there next year !!

Have a happy safe and peaceful Christmas whoever you are and wherever you are,

Take care


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Painting - sorted

At last we have paid a deposit to have Waterlily painted next year. Having had bad experiences of winter painting with our ownerships boat we want to ensure Waterlily is painted when all chances of frost have passed. Not sure of the exact date but we want it to be done April time so we have a nice shiny boat to scratch during 2010.

We are booked in to Aqua Narrowboats at Mercia Marina. This is good as it will mean a short days cruise to get her to the paint dock.

Justin has been very helpful and projects the right image - not the normal canal business attitude. He answered a request some time ago about boat painting when he was setting up his business when he was getting boats painted on the Soar - he has done well in a short time.

Colours are being withheld so it will be a surprise..... hopefully not too much for us.

We just need to get aboard - plenty of costs going out but no enjoyment by being on the boat. I spy a good opportunity coming up.

Take care