Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quiet day and start of a sad tale

Another frost this morning,but not as severe as yesterday.  We decided to fill the water tank and wind Waiouru so we cruised down to Hillmorton and used the very slooow tap to fill up the tank.  It was such a slow tap that we managed to have a leisurely lunch and rest whilst it filled.  I’m still very annoyed with the new hose.  It might state “reinforced” on the label but it kinked after the first use and has now split in one spot <grrrr>.  We winded below the locks and slowly made our way back to Rugby. 

Later in the afternoon I plugged the laptop into the boat canbus system and modified the configuration of the switches in the bedroom.  The boat surveyor who assisted us achieve the RCD requirements suggested I label the switches where there was more than one switch co-located.  We have a 6 gang switch beside the bed and a 3 gang switch at the foot of it.  There’s also a 2 gang switch in the bathroom.  Today I produced a scaled labelling template for each switch and then walked into Rugby to arrange for them to be manufactured.  Jan has suggested the labelling plates have a brushed aluminium finish with black lettering.  This has now all been arranged and they should be available for collection in two days.

Now for the sad tale.

In May 2011 we arrived in the UK to discover we had been seriously let down by our boat fitter.  We were expecting to move onto our finished boat.  Instead we found ourselves homeless in a country where we had no family or friends. Fortunately for us a couple of complete strangers came to our assistance.  These generous people are now firm friends.  One couple that offered practical assistance were Peter and Margaret, who allowed us to live on their narrow boat whilst we attempted to sort ourselves out.

At the beginning of this year Peter contacted me and told me a terrible story about their boat (nb Kelly-Louise).  Peter has now commenced writing a series of blog posts explaining what happened.

If you own a boater or are considering buying/building then I strongly recommend you read Peter’s posts.  There are many lessons to be learned from their tragic experience.  I wont write any more as it’s Peter and Margaret’s story.

<blog link here>

Monday, November 24, 2014

First Frost and a walk to Dunchurch

We awoke to a dark and very cold morning.  When Jan looked out the side hatch everything was white with frost.  It was too dark to take a photo so we waited 30 minutes before taking the following snaps.

Waiouru was still covered in frost when I headed out for my 18km walk.  The only part of the boat where it had melted was around the mushroom vents where the heat from the boat escapes.  I was rather pleased to see frost on the remainder of the boat as it confirms how well the insulation is working.

A slight surprise when I went to wipe the condensation off the inside of the pram cover…… It was ice!

As the weather forecast was for a fine day I had planned a walk to the south-west of Rugby.  It’s the only direction I haven’t walked in the local area. I had identified there was a 300 yard strip of public footpath at the far end of the route which hadn’t been marked on the OSM.  My objective was to walk this path and record the data on the gps for uploading.

In the end I discovered a second short length of footpath which wasn’t on the OSM. 

Both recorded traces have now been uploaded.  Actually I was slightly disappointed to read today that a number of paid navigation applications for Apple and Android are using the OSM data.  This mapping data is collected by volunteers and it niggled me that they should charge for information made free in the public domain.  There are a small number of other cartographers who use the OSM data to produce specialist maps and charge nothing.

There are a few thatched rooves around Dunchurch.

I took this photo because I was fascinated by the thickness of the thatch and the walls along with the very small windows.  My guess is the home is probably very warm.

We’ve been through Dunchurch by car and bus but this has been the first time I’ve had the opportunity to walk around the village green.  Love the stocks.  Pity they are no longer used!

The route back to the boat took me past a field of long necked sheep.  I’ve eaten these whilst In Peru.  If I recall correctly they were slightly more tasty than the local guinea pigs.

The rich eat Alpaca and the poor eat guinea pig!

Could Bob Geldof have had a haircut?

Saturday, November 22, 2014


The TV signal was pixelated except when Jan stood in the far left corner of the boat with her right arm in the air.  Fortunately she managed to last two 40 minute halves.  I suspect the only reason the All Blacks beat Wales is because of their 16th man… Me!  I finished the game in a pool of sweat and felt every tackle.  Both Jan and I are rather shattered and will sleep well tonight! 

Ray on Ferndale……… loser!  Smile  You’re a brave foolish man walking around Auckland wearing a Wales jersey.

The damned kiwi team had me writhing on the bed at 3/4 time when Wales was a point in the lead.  Great to see the All Blacks rise to the challenge and break a few Welsh hearts.  However it wasn’t a great game.  I just wish the All Blacks hadn’t kicked so many times!

Back to more mundane matters.  The new laptop 12V power brick is working well and today we placed another eBay order for a 12V USB charger plug.  Again to be delivered to Argos. 

I had an urge to do a few maintenance jobs on the exterior of Waiouru but found if I sat down they passed.  Then the rain came.  Good timing!  I should really do some cleaning in the cratch….. tomorrow.

Message from the writer

Normal service will resume after the rugby!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

eBay comes through

Sorry, this is a nerdy post.

We walked to Rugby this morning to buy a few items from the 99p and Poundland shops.  Whilst in the mall I went into Argos and asked about the eBay collection process.  The manager informed me that when the item is received in the shop eBay automatically sends the recipient an email with a collection reference code.

After making our purchases we wandered back to Brownsover for a slightly late lunch on Waiouru. I’d only just settled down to eat when an email arrived from eBay advising the Dc – Dc converter was available for collection at Argos.  Back into town I went.

This photo provides an indication of the size of the converter compared against my Leatherman

The following is a description of how I assembled the DC to DC step up converter.

I didn’t want the converter to rattle around inside the box.  Better to have it secured.  Rather than attempt to secure it inside the box I decided to mount it on the underside of the lid.

The machine screws and nuts were surplus to another small task completed last year and I don’t like to throw things away in case they are needed at some future date.  Yes… I’m a hoarder!  You might be able to see that each screw has two nuts on the bottom.  The purpose of the second nut is to act as a spacer thus enabling air to circulate under the converter printer circuit board.  You might have also noted that they are closer to one end than the other.  The reason for this will become apparent.

Washers were placed on top of the nuts and the converter fitted.  Another set of washers and nuts were then added to secure the converter to the lid.

The reason for the machine screws being offset is now apparent.  Additional room is required at the right end to allow for the cables being fitted into the terminals.  There is a very small brass screw at the opposite end (left arrow) The output voltage can be adjusted using a small jewellers screwdriver (99p shop).  The converter has two large heat sinks (the black components with fins).  Depending upon the required increase in voltage and the load (amps) the converter may generate significant heat.  This needs to be dissipated.

I marked a matrix on two sides of the box. and then drilled a series of holes to improve air circulation and dissipate any heat.

The input and output cable connections were then made and cable ties tightened on each cable.

The purpose of the cable tie is to reduce the possibility of the cable being ripped out of the terminals.  The last step was to connect the output plug to my multimeter and adjust the output voltage to 19.2V which is the required voltage for the laptop.

The lid was then screwed onto the base to complete the project.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Two walks and a project

This morning Jan and I walked to Range, Maplin and Tesco.  The purchase from Maplin was a small plastic box for a planned project.  Range supplied a number of household items and whilst Jan was wandering around I bumped into Angie & Dave the crew of nb Lady Esther.  Angie is the clever lady who crochets mooring pin covers from Sainsbury’s plastic shopping bags.  A great way to recycle them.  We have two of her mooring pin covers and always use them when moored on pins.  After a brief chat (toilets not discussed) I had to dash off to look for the chief financial controller.  Hopefully we’ll catch up with Dave & Angie before leaving the area.

On the way back to Waiouru we stopped at Tesco for the bulk supplies.  A box of milk and several of cola (both on special).  I’m not sure how long this cheap shopping trolley is going to last with the amount of weight she has to carry back to the boat.  The wheels are starting to get slightly wobbly!

In the afternoon I walked up to the Aldi at Central Park for the items we like, but only they stock.

Back at Waiouru I rummaged through the storage lockers looking for components to use on the latest project.  Two years ago I made a 12V power supply for the laptop.  It converted 12V to 19.2V which enabled me to recharge the laptop without running the inverter.  When we purchased the 28” TV I ensured it had an external power converter.  The TV has a 240V AC input but actually runs on 14V DC.  So I modified the laptop converter and used it to run the TV.  Now I need another voltage converter for the laptop.  You can purchase them for approximately £30+ but I want to do it cheaper.

The plastic box from Maplin cost £4 and will contain the circuit board and electronic components.  I’m going to use the 12V extension lead we had previously purchased to operate the map gps on the back of the boat.  It’s now surplus because I fitted a 12V water resistant socket in the semi trad area.  I also have a surplus lead and power plug for the laptop.

£4 of components

I could make the converter but it’s actually cheaper to purchase one off eBay.  The manufacturer in China can sell them for approx £2.50 including free postage.  Unfortunately we don’t have a postal address.  However youngest son came to my rescue pointing out eBay has a “click & collect” option where the purchased item can be collected from Argos.

This is the DC – DC converter which we are now waiting to be received by Argos.

When it arrives I’ll probably write a short description on how I assembled the converter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Not much of a day

Jan had a really exciting morning browsing the aisles of Tesco on the hunt for essentials and a bargain whilst I headed into town to hear the results of my oil analysis and engine check.

  • Cholesterol OK
  • Sugar level OK
  • Liver Function OK
  • Cell Count OK
  • BP 135  OK
  • Salt level slightly high
  • Heart Rate  Not found
  • Father DNA check Negative

I guess the last two confirms what’s been said about me by many.  Inside I’m a heartless bastard!

On return to the boat I found Jan ecstatically engrossed in stowing the provisions.  Another trip will be required for the liquid refreshments.  No…..not the fermented fruit juice….. the milk!

A second walk into town for me in the afternoon.  The high pressure water wash has removed the rust and all the blacking.  No sign of corrosion or pitting.  Why do dentists change their advice.  It used to be “brush your teeth and gums vigorously to promote their health”  Now it’s “brush softly in a gentle circular motion to minimise the retraction of the gums”  Completely the opposite advice!  

When selecting a doctor or dentist I try to find one with small hands and narrow fingers.  you never know where they might want to put them.  Actually I learned this the painful way when I was sent for a company medical and the examining doctor, who was a former rugby prop forward with hands like dinner plates.  He decided to examine my prostate.  The sound of someone donning a rubber glove still sends an involuntary shiver up my spine!

Still, I’m good for another 12 months.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fuel Consumption

We cruised up to Armada Boatyard today and topped up all the tanks.  It’s 24 days since we last topped up the three diesel tanks and I was curious to knowhow much fuel we had consumed in that time.  The results were quite interesting.

  • Engine  107 ltrs
  • Hurricane Heater  20 ltrs
  • Refleks Heater  30 litres

Our average daily engine consumption is 4.4 litres.  We run the engine each day to recharge the batteries and heat the water in the calorifier

The Hurricane Heater is run for a couple of hours each morning to warm the boat which means it is consuming about 0.4 l/hr

The Refleks is our main mode of heating and runs for approximately 10 hours daily.  Its hourly consumption is 0.125l/hr.  The Refleks has settings from 1 to 9 with 9 being the highest.  We currently operate it on slightly less than 1 which we find keeps the boat quite warm.  Of course our efforts in ensuring the boat was well insulated and double glazed during the fit out has probably played a major part in enabling us to run the heater on such a low setting.

My calculations indicate it is currently costing us approximately £150 per month for energy.  Last winter the mooring cost £200 p/m and electricity was approx £70 p/m. 

Armada Boatyard

Armada Hire Boats

Newbold Tunnel appears to have obtained a replacement light since we were last this way.  Both of us were sure the pink/purple? light was new.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Wet Walk

A very nice Sunday roast at the Barley Mow.  We assume they have moved to a winter menu as it was a buffet rather than a la carte.  No matter, we only wanted the usual roast and it was delicious.

I needed some exercise and plotted out a route to the west of Newbold.  I’d already remembered walking to the north and east on a previous visit to the area and was looking for new ground.

Unfortunately the old grey matter had forgotten I’d also walked this area on a previous visit so much of it rapidly became familiar.  After all that walking the only piece of public footpath not already on the OSM was the following short length.

Much of this stretch of footpath is adjacent to the River Avon.  It’s not quite the size you might expect the Avon to present.  It looks like a small creek.  You probably have to get closer to Warwick if you want to see anything that resembles a river.

It is obviously prone to flooding because further down stream a vehicle track crossed it.  In NZ this would be known as an Irish Crossing.  There would be a number of culvert pipes (concrete or steel) to convey the normal volume of water.  There would usually be a concrete capping over the pipes.  When the river is in flood the crossing becomes a ford.  In this instance there is a raised edge on one side which can be used as a pedestrian walkway.

I had just reached the furthest point from Waiouru when it started to rain….. quite heavily!  Oh well, skin is waterproof.  By the time I reached the boat a change into dry clothes was looking very appealing. 

Whilst I’d been out enjoying myself Jan had baked a loaf of bread and an apple shortcake.  I do love the end crust of a freshly baked loaf smothered in butter.  Life’s good!

As I write this we have received a traffic infringement notice advising we were captured on camera exceeding the legal speed limit by more than 10km/h.


Details of offence:

The purpose of sending this letter of advice is to apprise you that you have committed a traffic offence. Exceeding applicable speed-limit on length of road – by 10 km/h or more but less than 20 km/h. The violation of speed limits has been detected by verified speed camera (within the meaning of the Road Transport Act 2014).

** The Offence carries 3 demerit points.

INVOICE                            VIEW CAMERA IMAGES

If you do not finalise your penalty notice by the due date we will send you a penalty reminder notice giving you a further 28 days. If you have an overdue fine, you may have your driver's licence suspended or be refused vehicle registration.


Obviously they want me to click on one of the two links in the email above (Invoice) or (View Camera Images).

Now we only do tick over………????   However a further hint can be found in the senders email address  infringement_report@info5-nsw-gov.com

Now we haven’t driven a car in New South Wales, Australia for four years.  Guess it must be spam! Smile

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A late start

It was a little brisk this morning consequentially we delayed our departure until after morning tea.  Jan walked forward to set Hillmorton Top Lock whilst I untied Waiouru.  It was less than 100 yards to the lock and you can imagine the shock when I glanced behind to see a boat following.  Where had it come from!

Being double locks each boat crew assisted the other which made the transit quicker. There were two boats coming up at the middle locks which made it even quicker.  One of them was Gosty Hill.

The water pressure from the taps below Hillmorton Locks is particularly poor and made even worse when they are both in use.  Still, we’re not in a hurry.  So there we were watching the paint dry the tank fill when a passing couple mentioned they occasionally read this rubbish.  We then spent an interesting 40 minutes having a towpath conversation with Chris and Pauline off nb Magpies.  They are also continuous cruisers.  However their plans are to go north whilst ours are to go south.  Anyway it was good to meet them.

Lunch was eaten on the move and as we passed Clifton Cruisers Jan could see the changes I mentioned from my visit last week.  Looks like there has been quite a site clean up and a new sales office was being erected.  It’s one of those log cabin prefabricated timber buildings.

The cafe has a new sign hanging beside the wharf.

However I can’t see them getting much passing boater trade during winter as the boats are moored two abreast on the wharf and 3 or 4 abreast on the moorings.

We passed through Brownsover noting there was only one boat moored on the towpath side.  It seemed very empty.  Jan then mentioned she had seen nb Oakfield moored above Hillmorton Locks.  We still haven’t met Ann and Graham.  There will be another occasion.

Jan rather likes the figurehead on the fender boat.

Apparently his name is Fender Fred.

Now moored at Newbold in anticipation of a Sunday roast lunch at The Barley Mow tomorrow.

Tonight’s post is rather late as I have been biting my names watching Scotland play NZ.  It was a damned close game with only one point between then on a couple of occasions.  I think the Scottish team played their hearts out and the All Blacks weren’t using their main players.  In the end the All Blacks managed to draw ahead by 8 points to comfortably win! <phew>

Friday, November 14, 2014

Heading North

The predicted rain belted down during the night and into the morning.  After a hot drink (coffee – Jan, cocoa – Tom) we reversed off our mooring and winded before stopping on the water point to fill the tank and dispose of the rubbish.  Part way through filling the tank we remembered the plan was to have a pump out today and having the bow high in the water would assist in empting the toilet tank in the stern.  Consequently we stopped filling the water tank.  It’s been more than a month since we last had the toilet tank emptied and the gauge wasn’t showing it half full.  However with winter coming we want to ensure there is always at least one month of surplus capacity in the tank.

Departing Braunston on tick-over we passed nb Tui moored near the junction. 

If you go to the Tui Breweries website <link here> you will see the corporate branding has been copied.

The sun put in an appearance not long after leaving Braunston and stayed with us for the rest of the day.  Half way down Barby straight we turned right into Barby Marina for the pump out (£15).  It was a good pump out.  The marina is slowly being developed.  I did wonder why the services wharf was at the opposite end of the marina to the office.  However the member of staff informed me the plan is for the office complex to be built adjacent to the services area.  I did ask the price of fuel and was informed it was £0.92 (domestic).  Exiting the marina proved to be easier than the entry as we had the wind in our favour.

On reaching Hillmorton Wharf Marina we noticed Butty Swannell appeared to be taking on bagged coal.  The sun was in my eyes as we passed The Canal Shop but I think their price for diesel was £0.79 (domestic).

Last year we had noticed the fibreglass cruiser Pockets cruising or moored in the immediate vicinity of Rugby.  Today we noticed her as we navigated the bend just north of Bridge 72A.  I could fallaciously claim this is what can happen when you attempt to navigate a bend at excessive speed.

Looks like a significant effort has been made to construct a ramp to extract her from the canal.

The batteries were reading 100% so we stopped for the day above Hillmorton Locks.  The mercury fell when the sun disappeared around 4.30pm and consequentially the Refleks was lit.  We’re now all tucked up dry and cosy.

Before finishing this post I must mention the blog reader on nb Thomas Tallis who passed us when we were moored above Calcutt Locks three days ago.  He spoke to Jan mentioning he had read the blog and knew about our rough start to narrow boating.  Sorry we didn’t get you name.  And yes…. we are still enjoying it!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A farewell

at 9.00am we received a text message from the boat in front of us asking if we were up.  “Since 4.00am” was the reply.  Sue then appeared for a final conversation for 2014.  By 10.00am all three crews were preparing to depart.

Mags Is all wrapped up and Geoff is in shorts!

I think both Geoff and Sue took a photo of us and we (of course) reciprocated. They were heading north whilst we were going in the opposite direction.

We’re not sure when our paths may again cross.  At Napton Junction we turned left towards Braunston, our destination for the day.  The cruise was cold and windy but largely uneventful.  The mowing crew from Fountains was cutting the towpath grass.  I assume for the last time this year.  About half way to Braunston we again passed the boaters toilet bobbing around in the cut.  The wind was a bit of an issue on some of the more exposed stretches which required additional engine revs to maintain steerage.  Jan put on a load of washing once the batteries had reached 80% and the load was done by the time we reached Braunston.  There were plenty of vacant moorings and we stopped just beyond the entrance to Braunston Marina.

After a late lunch we walked up the the village to visit the general store and butcher’s.  Jan now has a steak and kidney pie for dinner tomorrow.

We had good TV coverage in the bedroom but the picture on the saloon TV was awful.  I guessed applied logical reasoning that the problem was the coaxial cable between the TV and the wall socket.  Several weeks ago I purchased two 1m coaxial cables from Maplin and subsequently cut the end of one to make a test lead.  That’s when I discovered how little copper wiring it contained.  So this afternoon I made up my own lead using some left over good quality coaxial cable and spare plugs.  We’ve gone from having 2 channels to 80.  The Maplin cables have gone in the bin!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

More Bloggers

As forecasted, the day started grey windy and wet.  There was a knock at the side hatch from the boaters moored in front of us along with an invitation to join them for morning tea.  The invitation was readily accepted and we decamped de-boated to join Sue and Vic on No Problem.

Sue and Jan were in a deep and meaningful conversation whilst Vic prepared some veg to make soup for lunch.  Or they might have been chatting about the two legged field mouse nibbling the ginger cake Jan had baked yesterday!  As you can see in the above photo, the sun eventually decided to put in an appearance.

Jan then got into some exciting stuff and decided to clean the shower before peeling and cooking the bags of apples we picked from the tree beside Stockton Top Lock.  I stayed out of the way in case this enthusiasm was contagious.

Around 2,00pm the distant sound of a boat horn was heard and Jan looked out the porthole to see Seyella slowly glide past with Geoff at the helm.  Seyella then moored behind Waiouru.

Around mid afternoon Sue invited me to join her and Geoff for a dog walk around the local area.  We walked down to Napton Junction and then along the towpath towards Braunston before cutting back across the fields.

It was slightly muddy underfoot when off the towpath but the dogs appeared to revile in the conditions.  It has been a long time since I’ve walked with dogs through fields containing cattle and I had forgotten how curious the beasts are when they see dogs.  Usually the cattle pay no attention to my passing.

Sue keeps an eye on the cattle which were charging across the field to have a closer look.

Back at the boats and we received an invitation from Geoff to join him and Mags for a hot drink.  We’ve previously waved to Mags when passing so this was the first time we’d actually had a meeting and conversation.  Afterwards Jan said “Mags sounds just like my grandmother (both from Yorkshire).

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Boat Blogger Meetings

We left our overnight mooring above Fosse top Lock at 9,00am heading towards Calcutt.  The first six locks were in our favour but from that point onwards the remaining 13 locks had to be turned. 

Jan rather liked this lock side cottage.  It had road access and a reasonable size garden.  She could just imagine selling ice creams and soft drinks to passing boaters in the summer.

This one was under offer.

There is a second cottage for sale immediately above Stockton Top Lock.  After looking at Google Earth it appears it may not have road access which tended to be confirmed by the arrival of Postman Pat who walked down the towpath to deliver the post.

Willow Wren’s training centre at Nelson Wharf looks very new.  Which of course it is!

I’m wondering what these round white disks are beside the lock?  I noticed them at two locks and there were probably more.  All I can think of is they are datum points to monitor the lock chambers and approach walls.

There wasn’t much in the way of sunshine today and the strong wind over the water made it rather chilly.  Jan did most of the lock work and the exercise seemed to keep her warmer.  We passed a number of interesting boats.

It wasn’t until the last lock for the day that we met a boat descending.  Our luck, every lock against us and we meet a boat at the last lock!  Then Jan called out “It’s Della and Muleless”.  If only she and Gary had arrived 30 minutes earlier!  There was someone assisting them down and with that pale pink cap and two border collies I correctly guessed it was Sue (nb No Problem)

Sue and Vic subsequently visited us in the afternoon for tea and coffee.  After all the locks today, tomorrow will be a rest day.