Friday 17 July 2015

Making phone calls and going solar.

Now we have our sea worthiness certificate I was able to fill in the necessary forms and have posted them off to the Peel Ports harbour master at Eastham for our trip to the river Weaver via the Shipping canal. Yesterday, I first phoned the harbour master to inform them the application was on its way and to enquire the correct procedure on the day. Paul Kirby was very helpful and explained it was he who received the forms. He informed me the we can lock though the bottom lock at Ellesmere Port then contact the canal control for permission to proceed either by phone or VHF radio. Permission will depend on what traffic is working the canal at the time.

Next I phoned C&RT Norwich office and booked them to man the locks at Ellesmere Port and Marsh Lock (on the Weaver). At first they seemed confused referring me to Peel Ports who advised its definitely C&RT that man the locks. I phoned C&RT again and got someone else who knew exactly what I wanted so made the booking for me. Seems not all C&RT are aware they man these locks so persevere.

Marsh Lock on the Weaver Navigation.  The Shipping canal leads off to the left of the picture

Finally I phoned Chester Council to let them know we will need the swing bridge over the bottom lock in Ellesmere port museum opened and they advised to call nearer the date but noted our request in their diary. Steve Bartlett is the current contact and he was just as helpful. They are only a few minutes away so only need an hours notice though still advisable to notify them nearer the time.

Swing bridge over the Bottom lock at the museum.  The Shipping canal is at the top of the picture.
So now we're all set for the cruise up the canal in August. Today, whilst working in our security control room at work, I was asked when we were going to be out on AmyJo again and I explained our plans. The refinery has several CCTV monitors that overlook the shipping canal and the Chief security officer has kindly offered to record our passage on the cameras as we pass the refinery. We're really pleased about that and look forward to seeing the recordings. Hopefully I'll be able to get a copy and post them on here with permission.

I think I mentioned a while ago that we were looking to have some solar panels installed? After much research we have placed an order for four 100 watt flexi panels, cables and MPPT controller etc . These will be fitted by the supplier just before we leave for Ellesmere Port as we can tie them into our display to monitor their charging. I did the calculations and reckon 400 watt of panel wired for our 24 volt system would amount to 200 Watts. This should give us about 6 amps charging on a good day and about 3.5 on a dull day. I've been monitoring our usage whilst off mains and it is roughly 4 amps peak so the panels should greatly increase the time between engine runs to charge batteries though not eliminate the need completely.

Two panels will be mounted directly on the roof just forward of the back hatch and on either side. The other pair I plan to mount on a top box that I have started to make. The box will have a pitch roof with double lids. One to keep the box closed and one to allow the solar panels to be tilted so as to maximise the sun's charge. I wanted to have two boxes but do not have enough room on the roof hence why two will be fixed to the roof directly.

My inspiration for the box material came from Barry on nb AreandAre (click). Barry has used 9mm plastic for his boxes. Solves the need to paint, does not rot, and is UV resistant all the while being robust enough to store things in.  I'll post some build pictures when I make a start on the Box.


Tom and Jan said...

The trip will make interesting reading. If yu have a good MPPT controller then I think you should get 10 amps if the panels are correctly positioned and it's a sunny day!

nb Achernar said...

Not sure on your figures. We have a single 240 w panel and get over 20 amps in midday sun. On a good days we often get over 100 amp hrs. Ours is a 12 volt system if this makes a difference.

nb AmyJo said...

Thanks for that Tom, sure hope so. I was going by the blurb for the supplier but I prefer your estimate :-)

Phil, I reckon both you and Tom are about right. The Specs show 1 100 watt panel can produce 5.72 amps max. With 4 wired for 24V that would give roughly 10 amps on a good day. I'm reckoning on less than that as not all days are clear blue skies so 6 amp is probably nearer the mark. If you had the same on your 12V system you would get about 21amps max from the panels so roughly the same as you 240 Watt panel though I'm not expert by any means on this.

Adam said...

When we did the ship canal we did it the other way, and the CRT guys had been down earlier in the day to unlock the Ellesmere Port lock, so we didn't see them there at all. The way you're going, I reckon it's worth making sure on the day that CRT know your expected arrival time at Weston Marsh Lock, because the breakwater outside is in a pretty awful condition -- not something you'd want to be tied up to for any length of time!

bottle said...

Check with your supplier but I would expect the panels to be wired in series, parallel.
Depends on panel voltages and the MPPT controller, "matching"

Our set up: 4* 100 watt panels wired series, parallel for 24v system

We get maximum 16 amp (if batteries are flat and the sun is shining)

Readings at the moment, full sunshine, Batteries at 79% + or - 10%
Solar giving 8.4 amps but we have a load of 4 amps (inverter)

So panels are 'running' the boat and charging the batteries.

nb Bonjour said...

we've just visited Weston Marsh lock (from the Weaver side) and yes, the moorings on the ship canal side are derelict - there will be a picture in a few days when I catch up with the blog! And it's definitely CRT too.
Best wishes for your trip
DEbby and Dave

nb AmyJo said...

Thanks for the heads up. Google maps does indeed show the breakwater looking rather run down. I'll be on my toes to make sure C&RT will be there and remind them so when I call them nearer to the time.

Bottle. If I get that much charge I'll be more than happy :-)

Debbie, thanks for the photo's. I agree the shipping canal is not very photogenic but is rather more for function than pleasure. The reason for our trip is its a short cut for us to the Weaver and its one trip to tick off the list as done.