Daisypath - Anniversary

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

A sort of Birthday


I just noticed AmyJo has been on the cut for 2 years, 2 weeks and 2 days so I guess its some sort of birthday for her.  Not that we are counting :-)



Hope everyone is surviving these vicious winds we're having. Do take care when walking near the banks. One of our neighboring boaters nearly got blown off the jetty but for the quick reactions of her hubby. Poor woman was quite shaken.  

We have taken the precaution to lash everything down on the deck but the wind was so strong it has pushed the folding bike in its bag across the roof!  Good job it is locked to the pole supports with a padlock and chain otherwise it would have gone in the cut.

Last night we got serenaded again with waves booming on the stern and the windows making like bagpipes again.  Quite musical really but not when you are trying to sleep.

We even had white caps on the waves in the marina yesterday!  According to the beaufort scale  small waves, becoming longer; numerous whitecaps equates to Force 4 wind.  Clearly it was much stronger than that.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Poppys

Thank you to all those who commented congratulations to my announcement in the last post.  Having made the decision it feels like a weight has suddenly lifted of my shoulders and June cannot come quick enough.

We had a rare free day on Saturday so Chris and I took the train into Liverpool for the day.  On the itinerary was a visit to see the ceramic poppy's that originated from the huge display at the Tower of London in 2014.  Not all the poppy's were sold off as artist Paul Cummins had incorporated two elements of poppy's called the wave and the weeping window into the display.  He wanted these elements to remain as a lasting legacy to commemorate those who gave their lives.  The poppy's are now touring the UK.

The breath-taking sculptures were initially conceived as the key dramatic sculptural elements in the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London in the autumn of 2014. Over the course of their time at the Tower, the two sculptures were gradually surrounded by a vast field of ceramic poppies, each one planted by a volunteer in memory of the life of a British and Colonial soldier lost during the First World War. Over 30,000 people volunteered to take part in planting the poppies, with the final one placed in the ground on Armistice Day, 11 November 2014.



Nowadays the element called Weeping Window is housed outside St Georges Hall in Liverpool.  As we missed them at London Chris was really keen to see them whilst they were here.  They will be moving next week to Lincoln Castle so Saturday would be the last chance to see them before the display is dismantled for transport.


Not as large as the London display but still as poignant none the less

Each poppy is hand made and unique.


Now I don't consider myself an emotional person by any means  but for some unfathomable reason this lone poppy standing tall above the others really got to me and I just stood staring at it for some time.  Daft I know but I just could not help looking at it.  Somehow out of all the poppy's I could see before me this one poppy struck a chord for me.

The one poppy stands tall amongst the sea of the others.
After lunch in Costa coffee we wandered round the Maritime museum then headed home, cold but enjoying the day.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Pottering and a life changing decision.

Hi all
Not this much going on at the moment hence the once a week posts.  We have been pottering about doing the odd jobs on AmyJo this weekend.

Yesterday we went out to buy two sockets to make up a new shorter mains cable.  We found them in our local Go Outdoors store in Saltney.  This is on the outskirts of Chester and is a huge store selling anything one might want for camping, caravanning, climbing, walking as so on.  Well worth the taxi fare for a visit.

We did spot, and bought, this little gem for £20.  Its a folding trolley but what took my eye to it was its compact size.  Stores away nicely in the cupboard but strong enough for the cassette or gas bottle.  Whether the small wheels will work on a dirt tow path remains to be seen.

The two litre coke bottle gives an idea how small the trolley is folded down

and when fully opened out
 Another job I've been meaning to get round to is a battery charger for our starter battery.  As AmyJo is a 24V boat the starter battery, being 12V, is not connected in any way to the electrical system so relies on an engine alternator to keep it charged.  During these winter months we are not running the engine every day in the marina so I needed a way to keep the battery topped up.  I found this charger in Halfords.  Its a smart charger giving a better charge cycle it has the 3 Bulk, Absorption and Float charge cycles.  In addition, a winter option to trickle charge at 0.8amps to keep the battery in prime order.  It also has a recondition option to assist when the battery is almost discharged.

I mounted the charger on a support post in the engine bay with zip ties and plugged it into a socket near the steps in the back cabin.

In Maintenance mode for Bulk Absorption and Float cycle charging.

One other piece of news is the life changing decision. 

As of 30th June I will be joining those in the largest leisure group of all by retiring.  We (Chris and I) have been thinking about this for some time but I now feel the time is right, I've had it with work these days as its just not the same any more and no longer enjoyable.  With this in mind Chris and I have starting to look at our cruising options this year.  With only Chris working we can extend our cruises considerably.  During the summer holidays we plan to cruise for the whole period of 7 weeks with other shorter trips during her other school breaks, hell we may even stay out of the marina all summer with Chris commuting to work whilst I move the boat when necessary.  This brings us one more step closer to our dream of continuous cruising.

Monday, 4 January 2016

New year online.

Due to the naff wet weather not many photos in this post I'm afraid.

Having spent Christmas Day at the bungalow with the girls Chris and I returned to AmyJo.  Chris was flying driving south to visit her mum but as I had to return to work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I remained here.

We had tickets for the New Year celebrations at the Shady Oak pub just down the cut.  As there are no locks to contend with I moved AmyJo on my own together with our mooring neighbour on her boat to the moorings outside the Shady on the Monday.  There were two boats on the pub staging and two on the tow path side.  Sheila moored in the gap between the latter and I winded AmyJo and pulled in upstream of all three.  We were joined by a further 8 boats as the days leading up to New Year passed.

Over the following 3 days I commuted to work from there and when Chris returned on New Year's Eve we enjoyed the festivities to see the New Year in.  A great night was had in the newly decorated Shady Oak but unfortunately all the photos were blurry.  Not sure if this was the camera settings or we were more inebriated than we thought. 

In the end we stayed a full week and only returned AmyJo to the Marina today (Monday).  We were quite happy moored out so were in no rush to return, enjoying the excellent food and carvery (on Sundays) provided by the pub .  In fact we have enjoyed these stints out of the marina so much I think this will become a regular feature if weather allows.

Yesterday, Sunday, there was a short break in the wet and windy weather that was calm and dry enough that it enabled me to get the drone out for a brief flight and thus managed to get these photos.


The road bridge over the canal that passes the Shady Oak looking towards Chester.

Seen from directly above, AmyJo (centre) moored opposite the pub (top left).
By now the tow path was becoming a quagmire after all the foot traffic over new year..

The Shady Oak from above

AmyJo on her mooring
 I have to admit I'm having great fun seeing the canal from this new angle but I'm always concious not to annoy other people with the drone.  There is a lot of bad press about near misses by drones with aircraft at the moment  so I'm careful when and where I fly now.

Today Chris went back to work so after bringing AmyJo back to the marina I washed her down (the boat that is) and tidied up.  I also replaced the water filter as this was due to be renewed.

After two years of reliable service the Erberspacher heater has decided to play up and will not always start.  I guess its long overdue a service so we'll get that organised over the next few days.  I know it should be serviced annually but that got over looked.

Today the sun made a rare appearance so I checked our Solar panel output and was pleased to see


Does not look much at 60watts max but it was enough to bring the batteries up from 92% to 95% charge.  With this in mind it looks like they should make a big difference if we get a good summer (if we get one that is).


Friday, 25 December 2015

We've escaped!

Well we left the marina for a week out on the cut. Last Friday was my works Christmas Dinner do at the Coconut Grove Indian resuarant in Chester. Now this restaurant is just round the corner from Harker's pub. Boaters that have visited Chester will know Harker's fronts the canal here in Chester so to save a breathalyser and taxi fares I slipped mooring lines on Friday morning and moored up in Chester outside the new Waitrose.




Chris was at work I single handed AmyJo as far as Eggbridge near Waverton and was then joined by my good friend Dave who helped me work AmyJo down the locks. Many thanks Dave. Stopping in Chester for the weekend meant I could enjoy a beer or 4 without worrying about transport home. In fact, oddly, until late Saturday afternoon AmyJo was the only boat in town upstream of the winding whole, we had the cut totally to ourselves.
I have to say the food at the Coconut Grove was OK being more traditional Indian cousine but personally I still prefer the Barton Rouge.  Nothing wrong with Coconut Grove food mind, in fact it is really nice and well presented. Its just I'm not a great lover of Indian food so its that I enjoyed the atmosphere more in the Barton Rouge.

As we did last year, we made good use of the weekend to do all our Christmas shopping in town, once more beating the queues for the now diminishing car parks (the big open air, Gore stacks, car park now given over to re-development of a new bus terminus).  Whilst car parks seem to be disappearing in town the Christmas market has grown in size and looks great.  Loads more to see and sample than last year.  We spent the whole day in town and managed to get all the gifts we intended to buy. The bank manager's smile now replaced with a frown. It was nice to get back to the warmth of AmyJo and put our feet up though. 

We stayed out for the week this time as Chris's last day of school term was on Wednesday and they were all booked into the Cheshire Cat for meal at lunchtime.  We took the oppotunity to move AmyJo to the moorings outside the Cheshire Cat and again found, apart from one other boat, that we had the moorings to ourselves. This meant it was Chris's turn not to have to worry about taxi's or parking.  I do confess we have been really naughty by overstaying on the mooring and its not a habit we intend to adopt, but, as only one other boat had stopped all week there was still plenty of mooring space available.  We would have moved on if this was summer and traffic on the cut was busier.  Being both at work its too dark when we get home to cruise so we had no real choice but to stay or cruise in the dark, not something we wanted to do nor felt comfortable with.  One could argue we should have stopped in the marina but we do hope we have put anyone out by staying just this once.



The girls Chris works with all wanted to see AmyJo for themselves after their meal and at one point all 12 were aboard.  I'm so glad I was at work at the time :-)  Chris did say she had to marshall them carefully for fear of sinking the boat.  It must have been interesting showing them all around and maintaining boat trim (not that I'm implying any deference to their size by the way).  In hind sight having this many aboard was a tad foolish but AmyJo coped quite well and she's still afloat so no harm done.

The good news is our new AGM batteries are holding up well and we only run the engine for an hour or two in the evening to top them up but mostly to give us hot water.  Tuesday night we gave them a boost charge using the travel pack whilst running the engine.  At 1.5KV output the travel pack fools the invertor into thinking we are on mains so it charges through the normal bulk, absorbsion and float cycles when on mains so this helps top the batteries right up and condition them. Despite the poor weather even the solar panels are putting a small charge in, though nowhere near enough to keep the batteries topped up, but as a certain advert tells us, every little helps. 

What is it with this weather?  First weeks of wind making 2015 the windiest year so far, then heavy rain almost making it the wettest, now unseasonally high temperatures are likely to make this winter the warmest on record.  I guess if you wanted evidence of global warming surely this must be it.  

This week we spent our time decorating AmyJo to give her the Christmas feel.  At last we are beginning to feel like the holiday is close at hand





So all that is left to say is have a very Merry Christmas to all our readers and hope you have a fantastic festive season.  May you can your family enjoy good health and happiness in the coming year.

All our love
Steve and Chris.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The Anchor Inn, High Offley

Following a post by Maffi (Click) I have copied his post to share the fact that the Anchor Inn is not shut as advertised as he requested we let everyone know to support Olive.  Having sampled Olive's pub it would be such a shame to loose this rare little gem.




Copied from Canal World and Maffi's post.

The e-canalmapp App for the Midlands has this pub erroneously listed as 'CLOSED'. Consequently she has seen a
big decline in customers this year, including (importantly) campers who used to bring their caravans and tents in the summer.

The Anchor Inn is NOT CLOSED! Maffi told Olive that he would ask you guys to take note and spread the word, if you know anyone who is remotely interested. Olive is attempting to have the app corrected, but so far after 3 months of reporting the issue, it still lists it as closed.

Winter opening hours are weekends only, Friday and Saturday evenings from 1900-2300 (often later!) plus Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes from 1200-1430 (often later!). Note: Closed on Sunday evenings.

Summer hours increase to weekday opening, both at lunchtime AND evenings.

Please help by passing this info onwards.

Those who complain of the pub hardly ever being open simply don't know her opening hours. They are regular and consistent, as listed above. She HAS been know to close early, but only if there's no customers.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

I confess, these storms are all my fault!

Wow what wild and windy couple of weeks we have had. Having got over ex Hurricane Abigail without too much problem her partner, Barney, hit us full force on the Tuesday evening grabbing hold of AmyJo and shaking and rocking her. The wind from Barney was so strong it sent our Satellite dish sliding across the roof despite its strong magnet. Chris's folding bike, in it's bag, would have been blown off the roof completely had it not been padlocked to the boarding plank support. I took the bike down and stored it temporarily in the cratch with the satellite dish for now.

The whole experience was somewhat sobering so I do so hope everyone has stayed safe, AmyJo was being battered in the wind, and we have the relative shelter of the marina! We could not help thinking of those moored on-line and/or on pins, we hope all were OK. The wind was so bad we even had white caps on the waves in the marina and these smashed into AmyJo's stern making booming noises as they hit. We were not too concerned about that but we did get a nice rhythm going occasionally :-) I checked the engine bay before retiring to bed and the draught coming in through the air vents was quite strong. There was a little water in the bilge that I can only assume was caused by either the wind carrying water in through the vents or, the heavy downpours of rain over filling the stern deck drainage channels. At least we know a good air flow reaches the engine.

I did wimp out and took the precaution of lashing down our new top box and was so glad I did. One or two of the other boaters woke up on Wednesday morning to find their wooden roof boxes had been blown off. I'm sure ours, being plastic, would have gone the same way had it not been tied down. To be fair the box stays put in fairly strong winds but Tuesday night's wind was so strong you could easily be blown of the jetty yourself in the gusts.

Today storm Clodagh is hitting us just as hard as Barney. As I type half of Chester is without water due to electrical failure caused by power lines being brought down at the water plant. Once again we have lashed everything down and hunkered down for yet another bumpy night. South-westerly winds are expected to reach speeds of 60-80km/h (37-49mph) with gusts of 100-130km/h (62-80mph) on the coasts hereabouts sthough slightly less in land it is still very still squirley out there none the less. I do hope you are all OK and safe.  You know things are getting worst as the UK met office has now taken to naming storms here in the UK as well!

On the differant note, last weekend Chris and I visited Fernwood Boats workshop once more to lend support at their now annual open day.   They had excellent support from many of the boat owners like us but more importantly plenty of prospective customers visiting. 

There seemed to be more prospective live aboard's this year and Chris was kept busy answering the usual questions new boaters tend to ask, and yes the proverbial loo type questions included.  She had thought to include photos of inside AmyJo as it is usually,  and this greatly helped them see what it's really like below deck of a live aboard narrow boat (she had tidied up for the photos I must add).

Some of the many visitor, including Jim Sparks from Alexander Boats on the Left (light blue jumper)
 It was great to see the Fernwood team and to meet other Fernwood boat owners once more.  This year was especially good as we got to meet Del and Al from Derwent 6 again who help to start us off on our dream.  We were also delighted to meet Carl and his wife again whose boat, WiFry, is in build at Ferwoods at the moment.  Carl took great pride showing me around her.  They came and visited us on AmyJo while we were at Crick during the show and have kept in touch ever since.  |It was obvious he was as excited as we were when AmyJo was in build.  We'll be seeing more of WiFry later.  We wish them all the best with their build.

An impressive buffet was laid on including this very detailed cake made by Peter's wife. Very tasty it was too!
 This year Steve and his wife from Willow Wren Training had a stall present and they were kept busy answering questions and even got some bookings for their helmsman's courses.  It was great to see Steve again too as he ran the helmsman's course Chris an I attended.  Steve showed me his photographs of the latest developments at their new training site.  They are presently excavating the old cement works arm alongside their training centre that will eventually be home to new moorings.  A serious amount of soil has been now been removed uncovering the old canal sides almost in tact.  When finished it will all be quite impressive.


More customers with Willow Wren stall left and Andy Munro himself on the far right.
 So now back to the title of the post.  

Yes the storms are really my fault.  You see, for a combined birthday and Christmas present, Chris allowed me to buy I bought a professional camera drone a few weeks back.  I've managed to fly it barely twice since because of the winds.  Once, when I got it and once whilst staying in a B&B at the weekend of Fernwood's open day.  Since then it been blowing a hooey nearly every day and the drone has had to stay in its box, so there it is, I own up to the storms being my fault.  

I'm hoping to use the drone to take ariel photos of places we cruise to giving a new perspective of the areas we visit.  On the bright side I did get this cracking photo of the marina with it on its first flight.


Drone photo of the marina.





Wednesday, 11 November 2015

A Cover up.



On our long trip up from Crick to Tattenhall last year we both got extremely wet as the heavens opened as we cruised through Tixall wide. This meant frantically closing up the rear doors and pulling the hatch too to avoid getting everything soaked in the back cabin (AmyJo has a large wide hatch). This made access to the throttle more difficult and ended up with me soaked through despite putting on a coat and hat. I don't mind getting wet but when it is also cold I think you would agree it is no longer fun. 

With that episode out of the way we decided it was time to have a pram hood installed. After looking on tinterweb and visiting Crick show this year we bought a cover from Kinver Canopies.  Last month Stuart came along,measured up and installed the frames.

The Frames being installed
Templates being cut to size
 A few weeks later Tristan arrived with our new cover and set about installing it.  They managed to find the same colour material as the cratch cover so all matched up nicely.


First the roof panel is added
Then the removable side panels are fitted
Almost complete
and the finished cover.  You can see all the solar panels in this shot.
Originally I wanted a cover that could quickly be raised and lowered but still offer protection from the rain. Once installed I was not sure how easy our new cover would be to raise and lower when cruising so, last Saturday, we took AmyJo the short distance up the cut to the Cheshire Cat for lunch, winded then returned to the mooring in the evening. Wary at first I kept the cover down through bridges but using my arm to touch the underside of the bridges I estimated all but one would allow AmyJo to pass under with the cover up. The one I would have to lower the cover being the one just up stream of the marina entrance by the winding 'ole.

I found provided the side panels were removed the roof of the cover kept things sufficiently dry but meant the whole structure could be held up by just two pop studs which, when released, allowed a quick drop of the cover. Once clear pulling the cover up and snapping the studs back into place we would be covered again. We also found it offered protection against the cold wind if cruising into wind. Of course the intention will be to cruise cover always down unless rain becomes heavy but its nice to know shelter is to hand if needed.

An added bonus is that the back of the cover, when zipped down, over laps the hatch and although allowing air to enter it stops the draughts when the wind picks up which it turn helps to keep the cabin warmer. Storm Abigail is due tomorrow (Thursday) so we'll see what affect having the cover does when its really windy. 

 Here's hoping everyone has a safe mooring and weathers the winds over the next few days without incident.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Solar panels and top box.

Warning - a slightly techy feel to this post.

When Chris and I retire we want to go long term cruising and considered having Solar panels fitted to supplement our charging requirements for the batteries. 

Like most people we love our electronics gismos like mobile phones, laptops and such. All these take power and need charging so we knew AmyJo's power bank would need to be capable of supporting this. We had 6, 110ah batteries installed when she was built giving a total of 330ah of power at 24volts. Up to now this has coped quite well but we do spend a lot of time hooked up to the marina electrics to be fair.

Our recent trip to the river Weaver highlighted the fact that unless we cruise for at least 5 hours ever day our batteries last barely 2 days before running low even when we are carefull with consumption. Monitoring the consumption we reckon we are using roughly 4amps of power on average which is quite high. This is down to the 240volt fridge and our need to charge phones, the internet wifi router (on a timer) and laptop use (I confess we are heavy internet users to keep in contact with family and friends). We do charge everything whilst cruising and the engine running and do everything we can to minimise power use where we can when moored. If we decide to stay put for a while this would mean running the engine a fair amount to keep the batteries fully charged. 

We looked at Solar panels as an option at Crick boat show and eventually placed an order to have them fitted. We also concidered how they would be fitted as neither Chris nor I wanted to use the normal brackets and have a line of panels running along the roof. Theres absolutely nothing wrong with that mind, its just we do not like that look. After much research we settled on flexible 100watt panels. We ordered four with a view to having them wired to give 200watt for our 24volt system. In actual fact fitting an MPPT controller meant we could have them wired up in series which is giving around 88volts on a bright sunny day and let the controller regulate the voltage to the batteries so 3.4amps has been achieved at times. I am now researching how I can set them up to pass the excess voltage to the inverter for mains use when the batteries are fully charged. That's a bit techy so I'll not bore you with that but it can be done with the Victron inverter assistant settings apparently.

Our 100watt flexible panels are like this one

If you have ever researched solar panels the common advise seems to be they work best when tilted towards the sun, makes perfect sense to me. I took that into account and had two mounted on a home made top box to allow them to be tilted whilst the other two remained glued to the deck. This way when you see AmyJo you can barely see the panels unless the ones on the top box are tilted. Whilst not giving us 100% performance we still get good charging rates from them. We can also lift the deck ones onto another box later should we choose to do so at a later date.

The top box.

Our roof box, whilst admittedly not the cheapest to make, is, hopefully, almost maintenance free. Being made from uPVC soffet and fascia boards it only needs a clean now and again, with no need for painting or wood treatment. The inspiration for the box material came thanks to Barry on nb AreandAre. (click). He has made several storage roof boxes the same way and as we thought this was a great idea we set too to do the same. Thanks Barry for letting me have a look at yours. Being lightweight it remains to be seen how it fairs in strong winds but with the stuff we have put in it I doubt it would budge.

The boards were sourced from B&Q and are 1.2m by 440mm in size, used for the base and lids whilst one 2m length of 220mm fascia served for the sides. The good thing about the soffet boards are they have a 30mm lip at 90degrees to the surface which, when two boards are placed back to back, makes bolting them together a breeze. Two more boards were shaped for the ends at 900mm wide and their lips enabled them to be easily bolted to the base boards. The sides were then fashioned from the fascia board with 50mm X 50mm timber used as legs to bolt them to the ends and raise the box to clear the curve of the roof. An additional feature is the 30mm lip acts as a great drip rail for the outer lid which I purposely made wider to over hang the box sides by adding another 100mm length of board making the width 540mm for each lid.


The base of the box under construction and almost complete

The lids required a bit of thought and I confess not being an engineer, it took me a long time to come up with a working solution. I wanted to be able to tilt the solar panels but still keep the contents of the box secure. The answer was to have double lids each side. The difficulty was how to hinge them. The solar panels are glued onto the upper or outer lid and this is hinged to allow up to 60 degree tilt. A strip of 20mm aluminium angle drilled at regular intervals and rod at each end serves as the support and allows the tilt angle to be adjusted. The angle bar is mounted on a lower second lid that when shut can be padlocked for security. We found we could still open this even when the solar panel is raised and tilted which is a bonus. The box is secured by the padlock but being plastic could be easily broken into so only low value items like the washing line, folding chairs and fenders are stored within.

If I say so myself I'm quite pleased with the result.  I just realised these are the only decent pictures I have so will take some more for my next post

The finished box complete with solar panels, just need to tidy up the cables a bit more.

Panels in the tilted position, the bungee on left corner holds them in place to protect them from the wind.

The only down side at the moment is that to allow room to open and tilt the panels I have had to space them apart at the hinge side leaving a trough running down the length and at the top of the box. Currently I cannot think of a good way to make this water tight and still allow the lids to pivot but for now a good layer of white duck tapes seems to work well until a more suitable alternative can be found. Any Suggestions on this would be welcomed.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Holiday ends and everything hits us at once.


Hi all,

Sorry for suddenly dropping out of sight for a while. Since we got back from our River Weaver cruise everything has come at us at once so we have not had time to draw breath. To make matter's worse our bank manager has now taken us of his Christmas card list.



So where to begin.....


We left Middlewich and was surpised to find very few boats queuing at the locks for a Saturday only having one boat ahead of us but plenty coming the other way. As the locks were in our favour this meant we made Barbridge by 3pm and was lucky to moor outside the Barbridge Inn.  We booked a table for evening meal and spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning AmyJo.  During our meal that night the rain started and a spectacular thunder storm with lots of lightning passed through.  Note to self don't clean the boat again!

Our last day out, Sunday, started off fine but as the day wore on the black clouds became our companions.  It was not long before a heavy shower hit us.  As luck would have it we had just stopped at the Shady Oak, mooring right outside, and was inside having lunch.  Seems our run of good weather was over.


We made it back to Tattenhall to be informed by Amy that the builders we booked to do our front room wanted to start work as soon as possible i.e Monday.  They were taking down the ceiling, putting up larger rafters, plaster-boarding the ceiling, then plastering it and all the walls.  It was a case jumping straight into the car and off to the house to move all the furniture out of the room into our bedroom as quick as possible.

Rafters to be added to beef up and straighten
the sagging ceiling

New electrics and fire place going in

Hall re plastered

The end result in the front room

and hall


Whilst this was going on you will recall our batteries were having problems holding a charge.  I managed to get a load tester and found four of the 6 were no good.  Nothing for it but to order six new ones.  We decided this time to upgrade to AGMs.  The cost meant no Christmas card for us this year from the bank manager but never mind.  We think what happened is the batteries were discharged too low as we were not cruising more than 2 hours every other day and they did not recover from that.  An expensive lesson learned.  Monitor my battery state more closely!

To add to this our solar panel fitter announced he was fit for work at last and could he come and install the solar panels which he did on Tuesday.  This meant I had to finish off the top box to take two of the panels.  I'll post on this later.

On 7th October AmyJo was lifted out of the water and we spent the week having her bottom blacked and a few other jobs done.  We have also had a bracket welded on the stern to allow a car tow ball to be mounted.  This will facilitate a bike rack to be set-up.  I don't like the bikes on the roof as Chris cannot see over them.  At the same time I touched up the gunwales and tunnel bands plus a few minor rust spots here and there.

AmyJo's hull after power washing.  Not too bad but plenty of bare steel

Blacking begins

Dave hard at work putting on the second coat of blacking

Gunwales sanded and ready for a coat of Epithanes

Freshly painted Tunnel bands and the new Bike rack bracket welded in place

All spruced up and ready to go back in
Back to the batteries.  Whilst replacing these with Rolls AGM 115AH ones, I took the opportunity to upgrade our blue VE.Net display to the new colour control GX as this allows the Solar controller to be connected to it so the charge from the panels can be seen on the display.  The new colour control needed a different battery monitor to the blue panel so one of these was also to be added.  This will upgrade AmyJo's electrics to the latest Victron control systems and add the solar panel display so we'll be able to report back on their output.  One good outcome of all this is I'm getting to know exactly how AmyJo's electrical system works.

The batteries arrived a few days later so we arranged to move AmyJo onto the visitors mooring.  The reason was the batteries were delivered to the house.?  At 72lb (30kg) each they are heavy to carry so we loaded 3 each into our cars and transported them to AmyJo, having only a short walk to get them to her stern.

I then removed the old batteries 2 at a time replacing them with two new ones.  It was time to reconnect everything up and it was then I hit a snag.  The pos and neg posts on the new batteries are slightly further apart and this meant the cables were too short.  The solution was to turn every other battery round 180 degrees so its neighbour's post was closer.  AmyJo has a 24volt system so this meant wiring 2 batteries as a pair together in series then each of the 3 pairs in parrallel ( sorry for the techy explanation here).

The new batteries in place

Eventually, after all that heaving and cursing and huffing and puffing, I turned the isolator switch on and AmyJo burst into life with everything working fine.  Final job was to hook up the invertor via the USB interface to my laptop and calibrate it to charge AGM batteries instead of lead acid ones (not for the faint hearted and done with Fernwoods electrician on the phone to assist).  If you are not electrically minded I would not recommend doing this on your own.

We're now monitoring the voltage and once the batteries have had a good charge to settle them in we'll disconnect the mains and let them discharge as recommended by the manufacturer.  This helps improve battery efficiency and prolong their life.

The last job to do was to replace the VB.net blue controller display with the new colour display so we can see the solar panel performance as well.  This was delayed as I found out our current battery monitor is not compatible with the colour display so had to order a new later version.  This duly arrived so I got on and replaced everything.

The new display shows the output from the Solar panels nicely
I wonder, is life as hectic when you retire? I do so hope not.

Thats all for now.  Next post I'll update you on our solar panels and the other new addition added to AmyJo.