Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Lost and found

As last night was a late night, and the sun was making Derwent6 creak and groan as it expanded, we quickly made the decision not to move today. The problem we also had was that Tooty was also out of routine and hadn't come back when we planned to leave. At breakfast he still hadn't come back, which is really unusual, and we could hear a small meow on the other side of the river.. it soon become apparent that he was stuck over there.
How he got there, god knows, but we had to send out the recovery team. It turned out it was on an Island and the stinging nettles were four foot high. After a trek through the undergrowth we located this mewing and then this sad little head poked out with a look of "Pick me up and take me home"
It was into his catbox and a march back to Derwent6, where he was all licky licky and purr, purr!
Now aching and stung from nettles we chilled for the rest of the morning. A boat did try to turn in front of us and got stuck, but a boat passing by managed to nudge him back straight and send him on his way. It felt rude to take pictures..
Late in the afternoon we went back up the pub for a nice cold beer and then got some Fish and Chips to walk home with.. Nice!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Jovi time again!

As always we were at Thatcham for a reason and today was no exception.
We had a lazy morning and at lunchtime walked over to the train station. You might see a clue on the T shirts we have on.
We jumped on the train which took us straight into Paddington..

From here it was a sort trip on the Bakerloo line to Wembley Central and then a short 15 minute walk to the stadium where this sign made us laugh from the staff at the station.
The new Wembley Stadium looks amazing and now has a designer outlet centre bolted on the side of it..
It has loads of foody and drinking places and most of it is outdoor eating if you like that?

We then went to a place called Boxpark which is like a warm up bar where drinks were served and Bon Jovi was played load and proud..
Yes it was that time again where Al gets her Bon Jovi fix and this time we decided to take it easy and watch them from a seat and not in the golden circle as usual. I think we were a bit done of getting there early and getting the number on your arm for your place in the queue, and then sitting on the pavement till it was time to go in. Then you rush to the front and have to stand and wait for three hours before the support band comes on and then stand for another two and a half hours before you had to get the blood back into your legs and walk back to the tube.

We chilled by having a meal before the crowds turned up and then had a few cocktails, followed by a few beers in Boxpark.
We then walked to our seats (which were really close to the stage) and sat and watched Manic Street Preachers who we have to say were a bit disappointing.
Bon Jovi on the other hand were amazing.
The show was fabulous and the sound was brilliant.

John's voice seemed to hold out for most of the concert and it was only on the encore that it started to crack, as emotions were running high and the atmosphere blew you away..

It was a great evening. We have now seen them 38 times in 36 years and yep "we've rocked em all" with them..
Getting the train back was tricky as we had to queue on the Bakerloo tube and then found out the train back to Thatcham was cancelled, so we got as far as Reading and then had to get a taxi back to Derwent6.
The plan was we were going to move tomorrow, but with aching limbs, sore throats, and a tad drunk on Rock and Roll, we don't think that is going to happen..

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Short Cruise to Thatcham

We set off early and Al walked ahead as there was a swingbridge just around the corner..
We passed Tony, a single hander on n.b. Maria, who is a really nice guy who we found out had worked in Chislehurst (where Del worked for 24 years) and also knew Biggin Hill (near to Shoreham where Al was born). We all helped each other through the locks and swingbridges.

We didn't plan to go very far as we needed another train station soon and timing on these moorings was paramount. After that little bout of rain the current was quite strong and the water was pouring down the weirs.
We then got to Thatcham and was pleased to see four moorings free so we picked the one furthest away from the road.
Tooty did his normal trick and was out in flash sussing things out..
Del got straight onto the brasses but the weather still didn't look good as the showers came in.. Al walked up to the Co-Op and picked up some treats and then we chilled for the rest of the day.
We did receive a notice from CaRT saying that there will be restrictions and technical issues on the Kennet and Avon from Crofton Pumping station to the bottom of the Devizes flight. So is that a problem with the pump at Crofton which is sometimes run by steam? The problem we have is that we don't want to be stuck down here, some thinking might have to be done. Maybe we will just follow the rainbow..

Derwent6 around the world (VRM)

It was a light drizzle here at Woolhampton, so we decided not to move today. This gave Del the chance to fit his new bit of kit to the Battery management system on Derwent6. On the colour controller (CCGX) you could link this into the internet by using a Asus N14 network card.
On getting it out the box the first thing he had to do was update the firmware on the CCGX from 2.1 to 2.31 so it had the drivers installed for the Asus network card.
Del had a problem with this as the firmware wouldn't download onto a dongle. It turned out to be a problem with Internet Explorer, because when he used Google chrome it downloaded very easy, but in the wrong format it turned out.. After changing it to notes it was plugged into the back of the CCGX and it showed the new firmware and installed it..
It was then a matter of plugging in the Asus n14 network card and linking it with our WiFi dongle and the CCGX screen showed we were connected.
Del then fixed the network card in a position to get a good signal.
So we now could update the system when we needed to because it would automatically be downloaded on the CCGX.
The next thing we wanted to see was what the batteries and solar were doing from anywhere, anywhere in the world for that matter. So we linked Derwent6's Battery management system (BMS) in to Victron's Remote management (VRM) which would give us access by looking on our phones or any computer. After a few settings the systems burst into life and it did give us the Wow effect..

You get everything in a lot more detail and if a problem arises, its easier to spot. This screen shows what is going on with the Remote console.
This screen shows the solar and batteries working together where over night the batteries are supplying the power and as the sun comes up the solar takes over.
This screen shows consumption used and how it affects the batteries

 The Bluetooth is a good feature and it links all the component's together, but it will only work on the phones half the length of Derwent6, so now we can look at it anywhere and in greater detail. 
So what problems have we had you ask? Well we have a problem when cruising with the batteries getting very warm at 38 degrees and it triggers an alarm and turns of all the charging circuits. This is a good thing because the system is working and it turns out to be the solar panels causing the problem.. When the alternator has charged the lithium batteries to 100% the solar panels go into float mode but still keep putting into the batteries.. So now we just turn off the solar when cruising which can be done on the phone, so that's a nice problem to have.. Del is going to look at how he can turn the float charge down, which can be done using the VE config link to a computer.. All very technical!!!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

On to Woolhampton

It turned out to be a nice morning and we set off at 8.30am and was reminded of the fierce locks ahead of us at Sulhamstead Lock.

We were on our own and time didn't matter, so we just took things slowly in the hope someone might catch us up..
 At Tyle Mill swingbridge and lock CaRT were working on the bridge. We pulled over for water and then decided to have a pumpout while we were there as we wasn't sure how many opportunities we would get to have one..
It turned out that a solenoid had packed up on the bridge and it might be closed till midweek. With Al's sweet talking the kind CaRT man managed to get it open for us so we could get on our way.. Meanwhile a hire boat had caught us up and joined us in the lock, it made things a lot easier.
We interchanged tasks, as they did the swingbridges and we did the locks, and it worked well even though it felt like Al was doing all the work..

We departed at Aldermaston where they had hired from, and carried on under the lift bridge and lock here.
The river is very pretty past this point and weaves its way through the trees till you get to Woolhampton.
Again its another swingbridge and lock with the Row Barge Inn watching everything going on..
There were a few moorings on the 48 hour moorings at the top and we felt we had done enough for the day.

We have got to say that moorings so far haven't been a problem providing you don't moor near a road, as these are the congested areas. Yes you do meet widebeam boats and it is difficult to pass, but so far they haven't caused us a problem..
In the evening it was rude not to use The Rowbarge pub as it was so close and we didn't have to do the washing up..  We have got to say it was one of the best meals we had had in a long time, the staff were friendly and the service was good, we had a lovely time. We will be doing this again if we can get a mooring.
The weather looks pants again tomorrow so we might be staying put again, what happened to flaming June?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Sitting out the high levels

Blimey we were sitting in bed feeling very smug after moving yesterday. It was tipping it down and doing those locks today would have been a nightmare. It just never seemed to stop. It just went from heavy to light, as we watched the water levels come up. In fact it was strange as we had five widebeams come past us in the bad weather. maybe this was because it put more water in the canal for them to move and there is less chance of meeting another narrowboat.
We then had a swan attacking a young Canadian goose next to us, but it did get away in the end.
Our next trial on the batteries was the slow cooker. It's 120 watts, but is on for 7 hours, and with no solar, so this was a good test..
We watched the volts and percentage drop on the controller, as we had to use lights and other electrical items as we were moored in a very dark and dingy place on this horrid day.
When we went to bed it got as low as 42% and the voltage was still holding at 26 volts.

In the morning it had dropped to 36% and 25.8 volts with the fridge going overnight, the lowest we have let it drop. So the lesson was don't use the slow cooker when we are not cruising or its not a nice day for solar.. This is called boat management and you have to learn what you can and can't do in certain conditions..

So it was back to running the engine, which seemed weird as we hadn't have to run it while static for quite a while. We thought it would charge quickly, but this wasn't the case. The solar panels still weren't producing much and the 60amp alternator has been restricted by the Buck Boost to feed the lithium batteries 25amps as they can't take 60 amps, so it took three hours to get them back to 80%.
The batteries perform better between 60% to 80% and even with the little solar coming in the batteries were showing infinite and even slowly charging again.
The following day the weather still wasn't good and we fancied a walk into town, but didn't fancy getting wet!. So we had no choice but to sit tight again. Al was going down to Kent on the Friday and the train was easy from Theale, so we moved Derwent6 on to some 14 day moorings so we could stay another couple of days..
Al saw friends Bernie and Sarah as on the Saturday Al & Sarah went to see the show 'The Ballroom Boys' at Bromley.... they had a fantastic time..

Del stayed with Derwent6 and did a few jobs that needed to be done. First he checked the Crankshaft nut for movement again and from the picture you could see things hadn't moved which was a relief.
Its next check will now be at 600 hours (fingers crossed)  unless any unusual noises are heard. He also fitted the new timer boost switch to the immersion heater so we could have the hot water on for fifteen minutes.
The great thing was we could do this from the lithium batteries and solar so free hot water!
Al got back on Sunday and we caught up on things over a beer and made our plans to move tomorrow as the weather looked ok.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A window to move to the K & A

We were up early (5.30am) and Del set off downstream back to Mapledurham lock.

It was such a misty morning, but so pretty.
The mist was just on the Thames and it only cleared as the sun got high and we got to the lock.
We used the water point again as we had the knack now, and got rid of our rubbish..
The locks were self service but the electric was on which made things easy. You then go into the wooded Thames section.
It was clear all the way to Reading and with bacon butties in hand what could be better.
We got to the lock at Caversham and again the electric was on so we did it easily, just before the locky turned up.
Talking of turning, we turned onto the Kennet and Avon and headed for Reading town centre.
We had a lock to contend with first and the gates had been left open so we were soon on the rise.. Going through the town is a fantastic experience, but at 8.30am things were very quiet.

We were very lucky as another boat was in front of us and set the lights, and then got the next lock ready for us as they were waiting for another boat.
These first four locks are very tricky going up as they are a bit fierce and its difficult to hold Derwent6 as the water gets behind it..
 In fact our centre rope nearly snapped and we had to replace it.
It didn't help that on one lock landing Del jumped off and left Derwent6 in reverse so had to quickly tie it to a bollard and jump on.. This taught us the lesson of more hast, less speed, and things went better after that. This canal is very pretty and we were reminded as we took the twist and turns through the meadows, even avoiding the odd fallen tree.

They have some very different locks on this canal and a bit of touching up has to take place after most days.

We soon got to the swingbridge at Theale and found a nice mooring, but no telly signal here.
We plan to sit tight for a few days now and let the bad weather pass us by.