Saturday, 8 June 2019

Catching up on those "round to it jobs" and a lucky escape

 Hi everyone,

We have been out on the cut since we got back from Market Drayton whilst Chris continues to commute to work.  Meanwhile with the recent good weather (looks out the port hole at the pouring rain) we have had, its given me the opportunity to see to those "round to it jobs", you know the ones, those jobs you've been putting off until you get round to it but seem to take ages to get done.

First up was an appointment with the engine for its annual service.  All the surrounding floor panels and steel work removed I was disappointed to see so much rust on the base plate.  More on this later.

Chris Jones did an excellent job of the service and even found time to fit the pulley locking kit I'd got from Beta.  I'd had trouble trying to fit it as it would not slide on the spline.  Chris's experience made it look easy.  He explained the tolerance was so fine the paint had to be removed first to allow clearance.  An hour of filing and hammering and the lock was on.

After much persuasion the lock was in place on the pulley, a really tight fit 

With the service out of the way and the boards removed I decided to tackle the rust in the engine room.  Regular readers may recall I did this last year but the Midland Chandlers paint I used clearly was not up to the task.  

After degreasing and wire brushing I treated the rust with Fertan and left it Overnight.  Next morning a coat of red Oxide primer was applied.

Primer applied on the swim and Fertan treatment on the base plate

Finally the whole area was coated with International Damboline Grey bilge paint.  This appears to be much thicker paint so hopefully will last better than the other paint.  Time will tell.

The finished job painted with Damboline bilge paint

Having taken up our 14 days on the mooring it was time to move.  As I was preparing AmyJo for cruising I zipped down the Cratch cover and the front Starboard zip on the cover broke.  No amount of coaxing would get it to do up.  In the end I got it together with a series of safety pins.  Not ideal but it did the job.

A run down to Iron Lock in glorious sunshine saw us moored opposite Chas Harden's wharf.  Nearby is Cratch and Canvas Repairs so the cover was left in Nik's capable hands to fit a new zip.

Whilst that was away I took the opportunity to give the cratch boards a coat or two of varnish. Luck was with us and the weather remained fine so I got two coats of quick drying varnish on in one day.  Next day the cover with its repaired zip was returned and re-fitted.

Cratch board and frame looking as new after varnishing

In the following weeks AmyJo was moored in the marina whilst we did Crick and a visit to the folks in Essex.  On our return Chris caught up with the washing but when she came to use the tumble dryer it stopped halfway through the first load.   

With no choice I prepared to pull the dryer out to investigate so went to switch it off at the mains socket.  Try as I might I could not get the switch to move.  Investigation revealed this...

The plastic behind the switch had swollen and was clear it had started to melt internally!  A lucky escape that it did not catch fire.  A new more suitable switch has now been fitted.

Last week our purchases from Crick arrived in the form of a new top box and plant tubs which I will use as fender stores for when not in use.  The old plastic box had served its purpose but now sitting up front was to high.  The new box holds just as much but is lower so does not impede visibility.  After a finishing coat of paint to colour code them with Amyo's colour scheme they are now looking part of the boat.

The new box from Top Box

Although built as plant holders these boxes make great fender stores.

Finally one of our readers commented on our solar panels and asked how our system was set up so I offered to post about it.  WARNING ...    techy post follows :-

AmyJo's electrical system is primarily a Victron system.   Six 128AH Rolls AGM batteries make up the domestic bank.  As AmyJo has a 24Volt system these are wired in 3 parallel pairs to give 24volts 380AH capacity.

Six of these wired in 3 pairs

Charging is via the engine alternator or via shore line through a 30v/3000k/50amp inverter and is monitored by a Victreon BMV 702 battery monitor.  

Supplementary charging is also provided by 4  X 165AH solar panels controlled via a Victron 100v/30amp MPPT controller.

Overseeing all this is a Victron Colour controller.  The Inverter, Battery Monitor and MPPT controller are all linked to this via RJ45 cables.  The controller displays all the voltages etc on one display.  It can also be used to change some settings on all the above.

To enable you to see all this I've made a diagram of the setup shown below

Now the clever ones among your will question why the solar cables go to the data link box and not directly onto the batteries.  This was a temporary measure as when installed the Solar system was controlled by an Epever system that could not communicate with the victron kit. I was not happy with this as I could not easily see what was being generated so had to put the cables into to datalink box so the system could detect the incoming charge from the panels.

I've since replaced the Epever with the Victron unit I had with the old panels and will move the cables back to the batteries when I can.  No small task.

Now with a full Victron system in place I can use the mobile phone victron app to check on the system and anytime and anywhere I might be, including what the solar panels are generating.  This is because data is sent from the Colour controller via the internet to a secure Victron server.  From there the mobile app can access it.  There is a few minutes lag but its no problem.

The Mobile phone App
Above is one of the mobile app displays showing the colour control display.  The 35W of solar power is low as its a very overcast and dull day.  We usually get over 400w at 48v of solar power on a sunny day and 200w on a lighter cloudy day, ample for our needs.

So there you have it.  Not ultra modern by any means but it works for us.

Trah for now.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Easter Break to Market Drayton - Finale

Sunday was our last day of the trip.  None of us were keen to get underway as we knew we did not have far to go.  With the sun shining we did eventually get underway.

All ready to get underway but waiting for a passing boat

Yet another,  seems this bank holiday was very popular with boaters

Finally underway and approaching Bunbury Locks

At Bunbury we waited in the queue though only two boats were ahead of us.  As usual Chris went on ahead to see what was happening.

It wasn't long when she reported back that there were two boats coming up.  I prepared Marie to go in and expect to do the famous Shuffle.  Before she could untie  Chris reported that the owners of the two boats were refusing to do the shuffle and had already started to fill the bottom lock.  

Hoping they could hear I replied to Chris I thought they were being selfish and not conserving water.  She came back that boats were newly painted and that they did not want their paintwork scratched.  I wish I'd thought of it at the time but I should have replied did they think my helmsmanship was no good but then its too late now.  No choice we waited it out until they were through.

Eventually we could proceed and had learnt one boat was coming up.  The shuffle was duly executed, with no boat touching any other.  Smiles and cheery chat all round was had as we passed by.

Marie and I descend the top lok

The Shuffle Starts, I move forward, then Marie moves across making room for the other boat

The other boat moves forward then I move across to make room for Marie

Finally the middle gates are closed and we descend the bottom lock.  Simples :-)

The next locks were uneventful so we quickly got through Tilstone and Beeston Stone Locks.  As usual there was a queue at Iron lock but no one wanted to go through in pairs which is most wise as the lock walls bow near the bottom.  I did do it once next to a very experience boater but would not recommend it nor will I do so again.

On our arrival at Wharton Lock visitor moorings there was just space for three boats to squeeze in, so Steve & Steph, Marie and Graham pulled in.  We had no choice but to go down the lock.  At the Shady Oak every available mooring space had been taken on the way to the pub and through the bridge 'ole.  We had no choice but to breast up alongside our good friend Paul's boat, nb Jasmine, for the night.  It was now 5:30pm

We had booked a table for the carvery but had been texted earlier by Yvonne, the landlady, that she was fast selling out and would we like our meals plated up or we'd loose out completely.  We readily agreed and were grateful to sit down for a well earned meal.

That evening local guitarist Chris Fletcher entertained us and a great night was had.  This was a fab finish to a wonderful week cruise in great company.

Chris sings a power ballad whilst a happy landlady, Yvonne, looks on.

Fab friends and great company for the night to end the cruise.

Next day we took it easy and in the afternoon chilled in the garden making the most of the bank holiday sun.  The pub was busy with customers all day keeping Pete, Yvonne and staff very busy.  Its so good to see the pub busy like it used to be.

Afternoon Bar-b-q underway

Even young Smudge was chilled out,  most unusual for him

Steve (nb Merlin) is a member of a Beatles tribute band, he plays John Lennon apparently and also performs as a solo artist.  I could not resist the opportunity so talked him into having a bit of a jam with the guitars in the evening.  The pub was quieter then so we could play to our hearts content, even those who were visiting the pub enjoyed our little set.

The two Steves

So that's the end of our Easter cruise.  We're back into normal life out on the cut for the summer staying fairly local so Chris can commute to work.  Chris is back to work now and I am starting to tackle some of the jobs I've been putting off, but that's for another post.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Easter Break to Market Drayton - part 4

As usual we set off at 10 am and descended the last of the Audlum locks on a warm sunny morning.  There was little wind and so a pleasant cruise was had.  

Below the visitor moorings below Audlum locks

Entrance to Overwater Marina

We had an uneventful run through Hack Green and got to Nantwich early evening to find every available mooring space taken with boats button to button through the town.  Eventually we got a mooring on the visitor moorings at Hurlston Junction and had another pleasant evening out on the towpath.

My arty photo  I call this "Electric Moon"

Next morning was Saturday and a glorious one it was too.  The sun was already quite warm so it was t-shirt weather for the day.  We took Smudge for his usual morning walk then prepared to up pins.

The fleet getting ready to move off

One could tell it was a bank holiday weekend.  The canal was busier than the M25.  Every bridge 'ole had a queue of boats going through in either direction.  I've never seen so many boats all on the move at once.  We waited our turn and boats passed through the bridge taking it in turns, all very civilised.

Steph on Merlin waits for a boat to pass through the bridge 'ole  two more waited the other side

At the Barbridge Inn the moorings were busy as expected but here we met several of our Tattenhall boats.  nb Chugabug on the pub Jetty, Harry on nb Utopia waiting to come through the bridge followed by Dave and Jo on nb Third and final.  Harry tooted his horn to welcome AmyJo as she came through the bridge.  This was soon followed by Chugabug's horn, Third and final joined in, then Marie's on nb old Faithful so of course we joined in sounding AmyJo's horns too.   The cocoffany of noise was deafening but everyone took it in good cheer thankfully.

Busy pub moorings

nb Utopoia and nb Third and final

nb Chugabug on the left and Nb Third and final in the middle underway  nb Old Faithful just coming though the bridge

Barbridge Junction

After passing Barbridge junction we carried on to the Cheese Factory at Calverley.  Here they do an excellent full English breakfast so we stopped for that.  We were not due back at the Shady Oak until Sunday evening so with the sun beating down we decided to moor up Bunbury side of Calverley and sat out taking in the sun. 

The ladies taking the opportunity to top up their tans

But for Graham it was too hot so he took himself off for a stroll

Unknown to Graham we knew it was his birthday so whilst in Market Drayton we had bought him a birthday cake which in the evening we presented to him.  We did not have any candles for him to blow out so Marie improvised with a match used to light the log burner

Marie presents Graham with his birthday cake and improvised candle

This night was our last of the cruise so we had a bit of a celebration party and bar-b-q in the evening.  I think we nearly emptied out the contents of the drinks cupboard and sat out until late in the night enjoying the company and banter

let to right  Steph, Graham, Steve, Chris and yours truly

To keep warm we got a roaring fire going in the fire pit  Someone wanted to warm their toes.

Cheers everyone  Baby Guinnesses all round

Total distance:1.99 miles Elapsed time:0h45m56s Locks:0 Bridges:7 
Average speed:2.60 mph (2.60 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Easter Break to Market Drayton - part 3

On Wednesday we found that it was market day in Market Drayton.  We had planned on staying the day so walked into town.  It was getting warm and the sun was out.  Just like a summer's day.  We enjoyed walking through the numerous stalls.  Both Marie and Chris managed to buy some summer dresses as well.

The start of the market

Having walked about all morning we arrived at the Hippodrome, now a Weatherspoons.  With the warmth of the day we stopped for a drink.  Becks is 3 for £5 so I took up the offer.

On the way back to the boats Steve and I needed the boys room so dived into a pub, however, the canny landlord called out "what'll ya have guys" so we felt obliged to have another drink, but after the needed comfort brake.  To be fair our beers (Doombar) were waiting for us on our exit and nice they were too!  

Enjoying a drink outside Wetherspoons

 We returned to the boats in the early evening and after freshening up we set up the barby and had a pleasant evening sat outside chatting the night away.  The evening was pleasant but the temperature soon dropped.  No matter we just wrapped up warm and carried on.

waiting for the Barby to settle in the evening sun.

We rose earlier next morning as we wanted diesel and water at the services.  It was slightly misty as we crept past the lone of moored boats, then winded at Talbot wharf, backing up onto the fuelling jetty just in time for it to open.

Cool and misty as we get underway

Having filled with diesel it was time for watering.  There was a bit of a queue building by now but a space just big enough for AmyJo was left between the two boats filling at the taps (there are two water points here).  I worked AmyJo over and settled in between them when a fourth boat owner called over "Oi we want water too my friend".  Now I knew the boat on the tap behind us was nearly full as they told us as we moored up so I politely replied "and so with a bit of patience you will get some before me".  In fact they did get to fill before us as the boat behind us soon moved off so we did so we did not jump the queue when the boat infront later moved off.

View for the water points from the fueling wharf before the queue formed

Later, just as the shouting boater left the water point Steve and Steph came through the bridge 'ole in nb Merlin.  They had to stop in the bridge 'ole as Mr impatient was now blocking their way, however he seemed not to realise this and proceeded to yell and guffaw at them to come through and get out of the way.   It wasn't until I pointed out to him in fact it was he that was in the way he shut up and moved over allowing Merlin to proceed.  Really! some people have no idea that they are in the wrong at times.  We just stood and watched the antics as he left.

Merlin Stuck in the bridge 'ole as the other boat blocked their way

After the fleet had all winded we set off on our return leg via the Adderley locks, at the top of which Graham and I managed to buy another of those lovely pork pies.

Addeley top lock
How's that for a pork pie then  (smudge looks longingly at it too)
Next, we started our descent of the Audlem locks, this time making good progress.  The group now worked as a team and the routine we adopted meant we all managed to help each other though assisted by the crews of ascending boats.

A young willing crew from another boat help with the lock gates for me.

Plenty more to go

Having descended Lock 13 we found plenty of mooring space on the visitor moorings in the pound.  As we had a table booked for another meal in the Lord Combermere we stopped and moored up for the night.  I have to say we all particularly like the food in the Lord Combermere,  its worth the walk to the pub just for that.

Total distance:8.18 miles Elapsed time:6h51m37s Locks:6 Bridges:22 
Average speed:1.19 mph (2.07 lock/mph)