Monday, April 29, 2019

Hair and Boosters in April Showers

We had loads on today so we made sure we could get in at Brownsover near Rugby. We went under the new bridge again and somehow managed to get on the same mooring we had a day ago.

Al had a booking at the hairdressers and got the bus into the town, to dodge the showers. She did a bit of shopping as well (as you do).
Del cleaned out the bilge and also cleaned the propeller with a little bit of wet and dry, as it seems to have a lot more wash coming from it.. It might be that we are so much lighter now the batteries have been changed, but we will see.
Al came back and then it was Tooty the cats turn.. He was put in his basket and taken to the vets for his yearly booster jabs and also his worming tablets. He was as good as gold and a little drowsy when we returned. Everything has to be bang up to date so he can go to the cattery without any worries..

It was going to be a bit of a noisy night close to the traffic, but it is only one night as we are on the one day moorings..

The following morning it was raining but they were short sharp showers so it was pick your moment to go, and it was always going to be the wrong moment. We listened to pop master on the radio and then pushed off.
After ten minutes it rained, but then after another ten minutes it was bright sunshine. We took things nice and steady through Newbold as it appeared to be busy again, but we didn't get too wet.
We pulled into Brinklow marina and used the pumpout (as we still had a token) but we put it in and it just fell right through and didn't work.. Agh!
We weren't desperate and black clouds were approaching, so will get it at another time.
We had sorted out a hire car, so we could do some things we needed, and waited for collection.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Now that the rush has gone!

We set off early this morning in the hope we would get a spot at Rugby.
It was quite cloudy compared to the last few days but the sun was trying to come out.. We took things nice and slow with just the trains making all the noise.
We trundled up towards Newbold tunnel passing Lime Farm marina.
It was strange as it felt very quiet with boats after the hectic Easter weekend. We got through the tunnel with ease and then passed the boats at Newbold.
As we got to Rugby we were surprised to see so many mooring places and picked one where we thought we might stay the night..

Al was straight off and doing some shopping but this time it was for Derwent6. First she had to gather the shopping bags which proved difficult.
The task was to find a new duvet cover for the bedroom as ours was falling to bits. Within 30 minutes Del had a text to say that Al had found one and it was at 50% off, great news! Del got some painting done and also lubricated the door hinges after one had snapped at Springwood Haven.
Al come back with some lunch, and after a discussion we thought we would move away from the busy road here. We first put the new covers on the bed and it looked very inviting..

We then pushed off and went down to the new bridge at Clifton. It had been 3 months since we last went under this and we thought the progress would have been a bit more advanced with all this good weather.

We went down to Hillmorton and turned and then moored in our favourite spot at Clifton. Tooty was in his element as he knew where he was. He seems to be venturing further afield so lets hope he gets back in the morning..

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Easter Monday

I know there will be some of you that aren't interested in the Derwent6 upgrade, but I also know there are some of you that are.

This has really changed our quality of life living on a narrowboat, and we are so excited to see what the next winter will bring.
We wake up in the morning and we can check the batteries in bed, that's the first thing.
Secondly you can see that the batteries are only at 80% after using them the night before, charging phones etc, watching TV, and of course the fridge running overnight. Thirdly you can see the solar panels switch on and start charging the batteries, and they charge really quickly depending on how much sun you have..
You have the peace of mind that you can run anything off these batteries and they can take it. Pumps, extractors, everything DC, all AC products, even the immersion heater for hot water. When we are static we don't need to run our engine and that's got to be good for the neighbours. The saving on diesel will be significant, and the saving on the environment even more immense.
We can look at the colour controller and see where the power from the batteries is going and also when it is being charged, either by the engine or by the solar panels.

We can also see the history of how much solar power we have had over the month. (the 0.0 volts is where it has turned off overnight). It shows whether it has charged on Bulk, Absorption, or Float. A lot of these days we haven't even had to tilt the panels up to get maximum kWh

The way we see it is that if we were in a house we would have maybe had new windows, or a conservatory, or a new shed, or even a car. We don't need any of them so why not give ourselves some quality of life living on a boat. It will start paying for itself very quickly and the worry about the batteries has just GONE!.

It is fun looking at what is going on, but I hope this wears off and the system just looks after itself.
When you first go into the app it pulls out the four lithium 100Ah batteries and the battery monitor and Solar MPPT.

If you then go into each lithium smart battery, you can even check each cell in that battery. It will also give the temperature of each battery.
We have had a frost in the morning, and the lowest the battery temperature went to was 8 degrees because they are well protected. The system will stop any charging under 5 degrees, as this can damage lithium batteries. The fact of the matter is that these batteries would probably run a heater in the battery compartment (if it was ever needed) so we could then run the engine to charge them when the temperature rises.

Anyway enough of that, as you can see we just chilled in the sunshine with a beer in hand today, this is what boating's all about..

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter Sunday

The cat Tooty went out at 4.30am and when we surfaced he still wasn't back. We wanted to leave early so we had a chance of getting a mooring on Easter Sunday at All Oaks near Brinklow. Del sorted out Derwent6 for casting off and Al was rattling the tin of treats calling the cat. Tooty soon came bounding back as he knew where his bread was buttered. We still can't get over our new batteries.. When we looked on our phones we were at 82% and had loads of stuff on till 11.00pm last night. The Solar was already topping up the batteries and when we set off they were at 88%. When the engine was started the solar turned itself off and the alternator charged the batteries in about one  hours cruising and then that turned off at 100% and the Solar's came back on and went onto float.

It was great to be cruising again even though we have done this stretch loads of times, but not with these Solar panels on the roof..
Al decided to use the bread maker while going along and the smell was lovely on the stern deck.
We pushed on till we got to All Oaks moorings, and our timing was right as there were about four moorings to choose from. We picked the one which would get the most sun of course!
Al's bread was almost done, and Del was fascinated by the figures it was pulling on the batteries. It baked this for free, as the solar panels were putting in more than the bread maker was taking out. The result was a lovely large loaf.
 As it was Easter Sunday Al had arranged for us to have a nice Easter Sunday roast lamb. It was full of colour and looked and smelt so good.
The afternoon was spent sitting out in the cratch chatting to our new neighbours and enjoying the sunshine with a few beers..

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Stand by! you are clear to go!

So Del was up and plugging in the Buck Boost to get the readings from the batteries after they were standing overnight..
The lithium batteries were at 80% and this was ideal so we could see the charge rates from the solar panels and the domestic alternator.
Al toasted some Hot Cross Buns of course, and we sat in the cratch as Kevin checked everything.
Kevin gave us the go ahead to say things were giving the right readings, so we were clear to go. So we said our goodbyes to everyone and set off waving to the marina as we left.

Wow we were on our own at last, (Tooty cat would be pleased), and it was time to try out the Derwent6 upgrade for real..  The first thing you will notice is the panels on the roof, but as you can see they don't obstruct the view when on the tiller..
The second thing is that Del can't stop looking at his phone as we are cruising, to see how things are going.
We soon realised we were at Nuneaton as the rubbish in the canal was atrocious.
When you come out of the other side, some of the gardens are very nice and people have made an effort to entertain us on the boats..
You then go through this bridge and its back into the countryside.
We saw our first ducklings, as we have been stuck in a marina.

You then pass the Ashby canal junction and head on towards Hawkesbury Junction.
Just before we turned we saw the solar panels of Terry on n.b Aqualady and then Tony and Jacki on n.b Timewarp, who had a little something for us, so we stopped.. They now are not only selling tiller pins, but also making fudge. They gave us a little box of fudge as a treat, how kind!! There were loads of different flavours, one being rhubarb and custard. They will go down well tonight with telly, Thanks guys!
We then turned at Hawkesbury and went through the foot deep stop lock here.
As it was the Easter weekend it was heaving in the pub and moorings were scarce.
With no moorings we carried on, with Tooty looking out for us as he was desperate to get off and eat grass..
We ended up at Ansty, and there were a few moorings available. We opened up a beer and had nibbles in the cratch as Tooty explored his surroundings for tonight.. 

Three days waiting for a part on our electrical upgrade..

So here we are still waiting for this part to arrive.. We have been getting very comfortable here and now the sun is beginning to shine it's actually not a bad place to be stuck at.. The people here at Springwood Haven are very nice people and others had been coming and going, having work done  while we wait..
So we ended up making some new friends.
Del has learnt a lot from watching others and also the advice that has been given..
The part arrived on Thursday afternoon and we were told we were back in the queue to get it fitted on Good Friday.
We woke up all excited about getting the Buck Boost fitted and also getting out of the marina at last..
A job turned up in front of us, it was an invertor change, so the brasses got done in the morning.. We did have some luck as Steve (a customer in the marina) bought our old batteries.
At 2.00pm Kevin manage to get on to us and wired up the Buck Boost.
Yep! you guessed it, again we had high voltage from the alternator and Kevin pointed towards the problem being the dump batteries damaged from the original alternator.

The Buck Boost has its own software which has to be set up by a Victron Engineer and the settings seemed right.. Del wasn't convinced that it was the batteries as they didn't seem like they were overcharging before we came into the marina. You can normally smell over heated and damaged lead acid batteries and the voltmeter was never erratic.
Kevin got new batteries from the store and wired them up, and after a while we had the same problem.. "We had to try that to eliminate it" Kevin said. After studying the software again it turned out that they had changed the colour of the switching wire and the wrong one had been wired up. Just a quick swap and hey presto Derwent6's charging system burst into life with stabilized readings which turned green.
The engine was purring like Tooty and the alternator felt there was no load going through it.. Success!
It was a relief that we might be getting out of here, but it wouldn't be until tomorrow as Kevin wanted to recheck everything again to make sure we had the best set up for Derwent6. He has been amazing!

It all sounds very complicated, but we now have a very good understanding of how it all works, and like we have said before, this system is fantastic. Hopefully if Kevin's happy, it will be a bit sad leaving tomorrow, but I'm sure we will now be enjoying life a little bit more, knowing battery power isn't a problem. We celebrated with a beer in the evening sunshine looking at this view.
The winter will be the big test for it so watch this space!