Friday, 31 December 2010

Google Analytics

Well, two days ago I configured Google Analytics to work with the blog and despite the program telling me I’d see statistics within 24 hours it didn’t happen.  Eventually worked out why……..  I’d failed to configure it correctly.  A simple oversight on my part which was easily rectified. 

Today I looked at my first report.  To my surprise I discovered other canal boaters had found my blog and had already placed my blog address on their blog list.  After three months of quiet blogging we’ve been “outed”!         Back to Google Analytics.

There is an interesting map which shows where our viewers originate

analytics map 

23 from the UK

8 from Australia; and

1 from the USA

Of the 32 'visitors 26 are unique.  I guess that means once during the 24 hours.  Actually, I might be wrong.  It’s once during the previous month.  But then the clock has only been running 24 hours!

The source of the traffic to the blog is interesting

Sources

Visits

% visits

(direct) ((none))

9

28.12%

benharpnarrowboats.co.uk (referral)

3

9.38%

blogger.com (referral)

3

9.38%

boatersblogs.blogspot.com (referral)

3

9.38%

google.com.au (referral)

2

6.25%

Three have come via our boat builders website (Ben Harp Narrowboats).  Three from other bloggers sites and three from Sue of “No Problems” website.

Delving into this a little deeper I can see some readers have arrived via the following blogs

nbhumdinger.blogspot.com

 nbsanity.blogspot.com

nbwillawaw.blogspot.com

pickles-no2.blogspot.com

coobeastie.co.uk

There is a pie chart which provides a summary of the referrals

pie chart

I think I’m getting addicted :-)

Thursday, 30 December 2010

A Cheaper Option

The momentary switches for the canbus DC power distribution system to be fitted to Waiouru were sent to the UK using DHL.  It cost approximately A$150 and whilst they arrived safely it seemed rather expensive.
I now need to arrange for the switch faceplates to be sent and this time I’ll use ‘Australia Post’.  By laying the faceplates flat and aligning them on a piece of light cardboard I can fit the face plates and mounting blocks into a plain white A4 sized envelope.  They have been test weighed at the local post office and the estimated cost of sending them is A$9.
faceplates
I’ve secured them on the cardboard using sticky tape in an attempt to ensure they don’t damage each other by moving around in transit.  I’ve also placed the side that will be seen after installation against the cardboard in an effort to further protect them.  It might be prudent to send them immediately during the post-Christmas lull.
Yesterday the mercury reached 39c and today’s forecast is 43c.  I wonder if any of our UK readers are interested in exchanging locations?

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Mark Has Done a Fantastic Job

Some time ago wrote a few posts about the canbus DC electrical distribution system to be installed on Waiouru.  We had decided on the Empirbus System and the UK distributor is Atlantis Marine.  My initial email to Atlantis Marine was sent in the first half of 2010 and I received a prompt reply from Mark Zimmerman.  My initial impression was of great customer service and I’ve not waivered in that opinion.  Mark has done more to assist us with our canbus system than I could have ever expected!  If you’re thinking of a canbus system then I recommend you contact him.

Mark suggested in order to maximise the power and functionality of the Empirbus system I should consider fitting momentary light switches.  These have the same action as a press button door bell switch.  Unfortunately all my online research indicated purchasing this type of switch in Europe was going to be expensive.  Then I realised my local Australian electrical component manufacture had a very nice range of momentary switches with backlit LED illumination.  The only problem was the switches were 240v AC and Waiouru would be 12v DC.  Undaunted, I purchased one switch and dismantled it to see if it was possible to convert it to 12v.  My ‘rough and ready’ modification worked, however I was mindful that there would be a large number of switches to be modified.

Then Mark offered to complete the modifications during his Christmas holiday break.  How could I refuse such a generous offer :-)

I decided to send the switches to the UK using DHL.  Whilst the delivery was quick and nothing was broken, on reflection it probably was an expensive option.  We have yet to send the faceplates for the switches and in an effort to reduce the cost I’ll probably use conventional airmail.

Mark has now completed the modifications and the following photo’s he emailed me tells the story of how it was achieved.

Here you can see all the switch mechanisms in their wrapping on his work desk (black arrow).

switch1  

The first task was to carefully pry off the clear plastic front cap to get at the printed circuit board.  This was a much better approach than the one I used.  I disassembled the entire switch mechanism which increased the complexity of re-assembling the modified switch.

switch2

The printed circuit board was exposed on the right side of the switch.  This was then carefully extracted with a pair of snip nose pliers.

switch3

Once all the circuit boards were removed they could be modified

switch5

All the surplus electronic components rectifying the 240v AC to 2.7v DC were then removed leaving just the LED.  The LED (Light Emitting Diode) actually works on low voltage DC.

switch6

After removing all the original components (except for the LED) Mark soldered a small resistor to the LED connection to reduce the 12v DC down to 2.7v.  He then replaced the original black wiring tails with a red and black to assist in the wiring of the switches into the circuits.

switch7

Finally all the switches were reassembled, labelled and tested.

switch8

I estimate the all inclusive cost of the modified switches is about half the price of purchasing similar mechanisms in Europe.  Of course I haven’t included Mark’s labour in this calculation!.  Jan and I will have to think of a way to recognise all his valued assistance.

Needless to say we are very happy with Atlantis Marine and looking forward to the day when we can use the Empirbus system on Waiouru.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Que????

I don’t know why or how…. but the problem with the blog list which wrote about in my last post has been rectified????

Somehow I must have inadvertently fixed the problem.  I can’t take any credit for it; but at least it now works.

On another positive note I’ve been able to configure Google Analytics. and insert the piece of code into the blog template.  Now all I need to do is work out how to use the program :-)

I also posted a link on the blog to my father’s diary which covers the year he spent in Scott Base, Antarctica as the Officer in Charge.  My time in Antarctica was considerably shorter.  I found it interesting to read about a very isolated life back in the days before email and internet global communications.  Antarctica is both a beautiful and dangerous place.

Tinkering Again

You may have noticed I’ve been tinkering around with the format of the blog (again).

Some weeks ago Debbie on nb Humdinger, mentioned my blog was not updating on her blog list.  At the time I ignored her comment (very foolish of me) as I had other things on my mind and I didn’t believe I’d created the problem.  A few days ago I noticed my link on Bruce’s blog (nb Sanity Again)  also wasn’t updating and that reminded me about Debbie’s earlier comment. 

I’ve set out to rectify the problem.  Without much success to date; I might add!  The first error I found was in the Blogger Template under ‘Settings’ –> ‘Site Feed’.  I had entered data into the window labelled “Post Feed Redirect URL” whereas it should have been left blank.  Other bloggers with the same problem had reported this fixed the issue.  However I didn’t fix my problem!  Next I read that an earlier post may have contained hidden code which was stopping the blogger routine from working.  The recommended solution was to delete the ‘rogue posting’.  I have nearly three months of daily posts and if there is a ‘rogue post’ I don’t know which one it is.  I’m not in the mood to delete all of them!  The problem is going to have to remain unsolved until I can think of another solution.

In the meantime I’ve become distracted by the site meter.  I removed the original ‘hit counter’ as I was becoming fixated by it.  Our IT savvy youngest son has recommended I use “Google Analytics” instead. 

Monday, 27 December 2010

Not much of a shopper

Neither Jan nor I are very interested in window shopping.  I go to the shops to buy what I want and promptly leave!  This means we are likely to have at least one free day when we are in Hong Kong on our way to the UK to take delivery of “Waiouru”. 

After we leave the hotel on the final morning we can take our checked-in baggage to the Kowloon Airport Express Terminal and check it in with British Airways.  The next time we see the heavy luggage will be at Heathrow.  So whilst we will have unburdened ourselves of suitcases we will have little carrying capacity for additional purchases.  No more shopping!

The flight departs at midnight so we need to decide how to fill in our final day in Hong Kong.  It’s not our first trip which means we’ve already seen many of the more well known sights.  However I happened to notice there is now a “Disneyland” in Hong Kong and it’s located near the new airport.  Some twenty years ago Jan enjoyed her previous visit to Disneyland when we were in LA so this seems like a good way to fill in the day.

Problem solved…. I hope!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Thank Goodness That’s Over!

After yesterday’s efforts I appear to have grown wider rather than taller.  Especially around the middle!  I desperately need some exercise in the very near future.

The sign I pegged on the front lawn Friday evening appeared to work (Santa; there is no one home… move on!).  The money saved will either go directly to the boat fund or our nervous wee pink pig labelled “Hong Kong Shopping fund”.  Actually I’ve been doing some research on shopping in Hong Kong.

We’re booked to stay in the YMCA “Cityview Hotel” on the Kowloon side.  We have stayed there on number of previous visits and found it to be clean, value for money, and central for the shopping.  It is within walking distance of both the “Night Market” and the “Ladies Market”.  It is also reasonably close of the major electronics shopping area (Mong Kok) on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Day

To any UK readers whilst it might be Christmas Eve where you are, here in Adelaide we’re already halfway through Christmas morning.

It was warm and muggy overnight so we slept with the bedroom curtains and French doors fully open.  We woke at 6.00am to the sound of rain drops falling on the pergola plastic roofing.  It wasn’t much rain, just the odd drop.  However it’s still unusual for this time of year.  The day is now overcast and warm.

There is a local Christmas morning tradition that the dog owners and pets meet in the park for a brief social gathering.  I walked ‘Bella’, our miniature daschund, down to the meeting and then for a longer walk afterwards. 

Xmas Dog Meeting 

The dogs appear to have a great time socialising and; after a few glasses of orange juice mixed with sparkling wine; their owners appear to feel the same.

Jan has just received a call from our two sons in Coffs Harbour and I’ll shortly phone my mother in Perth.  The temperature is rising so lunch is likely to be very light!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Served Cold

Yesterday I posted about the plan to purchase a Canon camera. The idea is we will purchase a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera. If I get it right then it should be the last expensive camera we will purchase in our lifetime.

Our first camera was a Yashica SLR which I purchased in 1972 whilst in Singapore for 6 weeks. I’m a really bad photographer so was looking for a camera that would enable a “dolt” like me to take a reasonable photo. Cameras and electronics were in their infancy and the shop owner convinced me the Yashica, with it’s coloured indicator LED’s, would allow me to take great photo’s. He even managed to sell it to me at an inflated price.  Much to my chagrin the camera failed not long after I left Singapore. At the time we had been married less than a year and it had been a major financial purchase.

Eight years passed and we were transferred to Singapore for two years. During those two years I’d visit the shop that sold me the camera.  To my surprise the shop owner remembered me. Approximately every three months I’d walk into the shop and talk to him about all the purchases I intended to make during the remainder of our time in Singapore. His eyes would light up and he’d ask me what I wanted. I would walk around the shop pointing at HiFi systems, TV’s video recorders, golf clubs, etc. You could see him calculating the commission. During each visit he’d ask me when I was going to start buying and I’d tell him not until we are ready to return home so everything will be new.

At the end of our two years I was walking past his shop and he saw me. He rushed out grabbing my arm and pulled me into his shop. He told me I needed to purchase everything NOW if I was going to take it with me. My moment had arrived. I told him I had no intention of purchasing anything from him after he’s sold me the to over-priced dud Yashica in 1972.

Petty and spiteful of me, but revenge is a dish best served cold!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

More Camera Research

During my lunch break I made a short trip through the city mall to one of the larger camera shops with the aim of looking at the Canon camera and lens I’d been researching.

I’d never buy something like a camera via the internet. I like to physically sight the item and hold it in my hands. More importantly, if something goes wrong then I know where to take it back and who to speak with. I was ‘burned’ some years ago when I purchased a mobile phone over the internet. It arrived all nicely packaged but I had a suspicion it was reconditioned rather than the stated “new”. It was a spare so I didn’t use it immediately. A few months later I took it out of the wrapping and plugged it in to charge the battery. That’s when it went “phizzz… poof” and I had a small, dead, electronic brick.

The salesman in the camera shop was giving me his sales pitch as I examined the camera. Canon were running “promotion” on their cameras which had reduced the price. The body was $1060 and the lens had a retail price of $2000, reduced to $1600 and with the Canon promotion it was reduced further to $1200. I informed him I didn’t intend to make the purchase until after Christmas. He then told me the Canon promotion may not be available after Christmas and the price might go back up. Not sure who he was attempting to fool… but it wasn’t me!

The retail industry is currently crying it’s their poorest Christmas season in years and that too many Australians are purchasing overseas via the internet taking advantage of the strong Australian dollar.

If it’s tough for the retailers now, then I have difficulty conceiving they will raise the prices after Christmas. Actually I’m expecting the reverse! There will be less cash in circulation which means more competition for fewer customers. Late January is the ideal time to look for a discounted price. Not that I expect the Australian retailers to be able to match the prices in Hong Kong.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Things are changing

Today started with gully breezes and finished warm and sunny.  I think the weather may have changed back to the norm.  If it keeps up I can see us finding a shady gum tree in the park on Christmas Day and having a picnic lunch.  This seems far more sensible than a heavy ‘traditional’ lunch on a hot day.  I can understand the turkey and trimmings in a cold climate but can’t see any logical reasons for doing it when the temperature is in the high 20’s or low 30’s.  Sandwiches and an ice cream is fine by me!

Kelly sent us an email letting us know the shell is almost complete and Ben has made considerable progress with the cabinets.  We’ve asked for a few photo’s to both brighten up a boring blog and partially satisfy our excitement.  I was concerned about Ben’s ability to work during such cold weather, however Kelly informs us Ben has a heated workshop so I can only assume his major problem might be getting there with all the problems on the roads.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The Flights are Booked

Our boat financial plan includes saving funds by using our frequent flyer points for the flights from Australia to the UK.  A combination of careful shopping and domestic business flights has seen us steadily accumulated a significant number of Qantas Frequent Flyer (QFF) points over the past several years .  The plan was to use these to procure ‘one-way’ business class tickets.  The problem with the plan is Qantas allocates very few ‘loyalty reward’ seats in Business Class.  I suspect the reason is frequent flyers accumulate the majority of the available points and they nearly all want to go Business Class when travelling overseas.  Of course airlines make far more money selling a business class seat and therefore they don’t want to give them away for FF points.

Qantas makes FF seats available approximately 350 days from the desired departure date and the allocated ‘free’ business class seats tend to be taken very quickly.  The situation is further complicated by the demand for seats during the ‘peak’ season (Jun – Sep).

After looking at the Qantas website I could see only one available business class seat in the month we wanted to travel and nothing in the adjacent months.  We need two seats.  I phoned Qantas and asked if a second seat could be made available.  After some time on hold I was advised that; despite looking at all options; there were no available business class seats from Sydney to Heathrow.

I waited one hour and phoned Qantas a second time.  Again I was placed on hold for several minutes.  This time the assistant told me there were no business class seats from Sydney to Heathrow.  However he could get me two seats economy class to Hong Kong and if we waited there for 5 days there would be two business class seats on British Airways to Heathrow.  I questioned him a little further and then mentioned I had a significant number of points.  He then said; provided we were prepared to spend two nights in Hong Kong, he could allocate us two FIRST CLASS seats on BA from Hong Kong to Heathrow .

I don’t understand the logic of First Class being available on reward points when Business Class is not.  Surely it would be better to give a paying business class passenger a free upgrade to first and put us (as ‘free’ passengers) in the vacated business class seats.  However I’ve begrudgingly accept the first class seats <smirk>.

Now we have an accompanied baggage problem! 

Going business would give us 30kg each.  However our first leg is economy so we are limited to 23kg each plus my additional 10kg FF allocation.  A total of 56kg  Not much when you’re leaving for 5 years!  When we depart Hong Kong the first class baggage allowance is 69kg each!  On first glance the increased baggage allowance isn’t much use after departing Sydney in economy class.  But, “I have a cunning plan”.  We will alter our current baggage plan and discard any thought of purchasing casual clothing prior to leaving Australia.  Instead, we will depart Australia with only 56kg of ‘essential’ items.  Then we will use our two days in Hong Kong to shop for all the clothing we will need on arrival in the UK. With a little careful planning we might even save more money by purchasing the items cheaper in Hong Kong

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Winter Photo’s

Looking at all the photo’s from the UK of narrowboats stuck in frozen canals reminded me of our trip to New Zealand last May.  Both countries have similar climates; although their seasons are at opposite times of the year.  We arrived to experience two weeks of New Zealand winter.  Making our way south we arrived at Waiouru (yes… we named the boat after the place!). 

Have you ever noticed how governments tend to place their army camps in the most inhospitable places.  Well, Waiouru is no exception!

Waiouru

Raining, cold, damp and limited visibility caused by low cloud!

We stopped at the Army Museum to stretch our legs and look around.  Part of me was filled with nostalgia and the remainder was screaming “let’s get out of here!”

museum

Whilst wandering around the museum shop we came across these scarfs.  Thinking we’d look rather smart onboard Waiouru wearing personalised scarves we purchased one each.

scarves  

Gradually we made our way south to Queenstown.  It was still cold, but this time the ‘wet’ was white and solid. Despite this Queenstown is nearly always picturesque.  You might describe it as “Hobbit Country”!

queenstown

Just goes to show that even a bad photographer can take a reasonable photo if the scenery is good enough.

Broken the Blog Feed

Somehow I appear to have created two RSS feeds for the blog.  There are 12 subscribers on one feed and none on the other.  Debbie on nb Humdinger also pointed out my link on her blog was not updating.  After some effort I worked out how to delete one of the feeds.  Logic told me I should delete the feed that had no subscribers.  I’ve no idea if this has fixed the problem so I shall have to wait and watch Debbie’s blog to see if her blog updates my postings.  If it doesn’t then “back to the drawing board”

If everything else fails I shall try reading the Feedburner manual!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Something Happened to Me!

It appears something crept up on me recently.  I reached 60 today.  Somewhat of a surprise as I’d never expected the day would arrive.  Now that it has I must remind the NZ Army they can start paying me that small pension.  I expect they also hadn’t anticipated that I would be around to collect the money.  Nevertheless I shall now do my best to collect as much money as possible in the time remaining :-)  Jan must have been planning as she purchase something suitable for me to wear on the big day. 

TShirt

WARNING RETIRED  Knows it all and has plenty of time to tell you about it

Well it’s not true.  I’m not in that condition.  In fact recently I’ve been phoned about taking on even more contracts.  I can’t help it be amused by “progress”.  My father retired at 58 and I’m still working at 60.  Part of me would like to take more time to explain why I know everything (you’re a cruel wife - dear) and the other part thinks we may need the money so I’d better keep working.

At least she didn’t get me that other ‘T’ Shirt.  The one that has on the front “Senior Citizen – Just give me the discount!”

And that reminds me…….. I can apply for a senior citizen concession card.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

What's Happening?

I’m aware there hasn’t been much boat information on this blog for a few days.  And the reason for this is I don’t have any new information to share.  Moreover I can’t just jump into the car and take a short two hour drive to the builder’s location and see what is happening.  This “Tyranny of Distance” issue can be quite frustrating.
Each night the TV runs a story about the severe winter being experienced in the UK this year (along with much of Europe).  My assumption is this has slowed down the project and I also assume it will come to a halt over Christmas and New Year.  It’s therefore possible Waiouru won’t be launched and ready for fitout until after the New Year.  Assuming the canal isn’t frozen! 
Looking at the positive side...... It might actually be a good thing if Waiouru remains in a workshop rather than out in the weather with no portholes or hatch covers.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Thank you fellow bloggers

I’ve been reading other narrowboat blogs for a number of years.  Actually they have been most useful, given we are on the far side of the world and therefore unable to regularly visit boat builders to discuss ideas.  The first blog I read was Maffi’s.  It was really a '”double hit” when I found his blog.  I was research for a business trip to Saudi Arabia and his blog covered both Saudi and the build history of his boat.

From there I went to the blog of Sue of “No Problem”.  Sue and Vic have been constant cruisers for a considerable number of number of years and Sue’s blog is very useful in attempting to understand and prepare for our own life afloat.  I also read the blog of Bruce from “nb Sanity”.  His description of the build of their current boat was most useful and he even kindly replied to a couple of my queries.

Chris Wells on “nb Belle” not only replied to my queries but also sent me drawings.  I must also mention fellow kiwi’s Dot and Derek from “nb Gypsy Rover”.  We were corresponding with Dot and Derek prior to our 2007 UK holiday and then went on to meet them during our trip.  Last year we met them a second time.  They have been very generous with their time and advice. 

Hopeful we will be able to do the same for others once we are living on Waiouru.

The Cratch Cover Design is Feasible

Some time ago I remember Sue on nb "No Problem" wrote on her blog in positive terms about work that had been done to their pram cover whilst in the vicinity of Stafford.  By using Garmin Mapsource and Google Earth I had worked out very early in the project that Great Haywood is near Stafford, so Sue's comments appeared to be a great referral.
Of course I couldn't remember the name of the company, however a search of Sue's blog reminded me it was Staffordshire Canopies and that they worked from their narrowboat named "Hundred Akers".  A quick google search gave me an email address.
I sent Tim and Lisa a brief email to enquire about their location and whether they are still manufacturing cratch covers.  There was a very prompt reply advising they were indeed in the general area of Great Haywood.  I immediately responded giving our thoughts on the design of the cover.  Tim and Lisa informed me our ideas for the design are feasible, consequentially they are at the top of our contact list when we need to have the cover made. 
It's a good feeling when another milestone is achieved.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Twang!!!

Today didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped.  As I made my way down off Mount Lofty last weekend I developed a '”twinge” in my left calf muscle.  This morning I decided to cover two hill closer to home.  Going up both of them wasn’t a problem but as I attempted to make my way down from the second hill the calf muscle decided it had done enough for the day.  Consequentially I limped home the last 5km feeling sorry for myself.  It’s somewhat annoying as I’ll probably have to cease any long walks for at least the next three weeks in the hope it will give the calf a chance to heal.

The is a photograph I took on the walk today looking down at the 2nd Falls in Morialta Conservation Park.  It is most unusual to see water going over the falls at this time of the year.  Actually many of the less frequently used tracks are getting rather overgrown.  Another consequence of the recent heavy and late rain is the proliferation of blackberry bushes.  We may go out and do some picking when they ripen.

morialta 2nd falls

I took the photo of the waterfall with our Garmin Oregon 500 gps.  It has a simple 3.2MP digital camera on the back.  It’s not a particularly good lens and I normally only use it for taking photo’s of waypoints. The red arrow points to the lens which is set well back into the case for protection.

oregon1

We purchased the Oregon in Sheffield whilst in the UK last year.  Actually we almost didn’t get the opportunity to purchase one as the UK release was delayed.  My original plan was to purchase the unit on the way to the Lake District and use it there for some of my planned walks.  In the end I had to use the Garmin Nuvi 600 which we purchased on an earlier UK visit. It’s a road gps and became rather confused when I took it across the hills.  I just ignored “Felicity’s” constant harping to “make a U turn”!  Unlike the Nuvi; the Oregon has a ‘breadcrumb’ function.  I’ve used this to map all the tracks in the local conservation parks.  The trails can then be uploaded to Google Earth from Garmin Mapsource.

oregon2

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Cratch Cover

Our ideas for the design of the cratch cover have been slowly evolving.  Initially the criteria revolved around product durability and being weather proof.  Then we realised the foredeck needed to be a multi-functional area.  A relaxation area in the summer and almost exclusively a storage area during the winter.  The climate will likely range from warm and sunny with no wind through to a blizzard.  Well that word might be somewhat strong but after 20 years of Australian sunshine any cold weather we’re likely to classify any cold weather as a blizzard.

During the summer we will probably want the cratch cover sides open to cool the area.  We will also use the area in the spring and autumn but may need the sides down to protect us again the wind and occasional shower.  Natural light will still be required so clear plastic windows seem a logical requirement.  During winter we will want to protect the plastic windows which means an outer flap.  The outer flap will also provide some visual security for anything left in the foredeck area.

If it gets quite hot we might sleep with the front cabin doors open in an attempt to allow air circulation.  However if we leave the cratch plastic windows open it’s likely we will attract insects into the boat.

All of this has resulted in us deciding on the following design for the cratch cover.  There will be an outer roll-down flap either side with vertical velcro fastening to hold the flap closed.  When rolled up there will be two velcro straps to hold the flap in place. A plastic window will be stitched into each side.  The window will be able to be opened using a double-ended zip.  It too will be able to be rolled up and held in place with velcro straps.  The interior circumference of both window ‘frames’ will have a vercro strip around them.  This will be used to secure a flexible insect screen.  For security reasons we will only require one insect screen as we will only open the ‘canal-side’ flap and window when sleeping at night.

Now we need to confirm if all of this is feasible.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Rubbish

I suspect we have some weird ideas about the design of Waiouru and its components.  We’re not a weird couple.... well at least Jan is normal!  I can only assume one of the advantages of the “tyranny of distance” is we don’t subconsciously conform to the ‘norm’ when thinking about what we want from Waiouru.  There is a trap in this as it’s equally possible our unconventional ideas may result in something impractical.
As we look at the current weather conditions in the UK it reminds us we need to make maximum use of Waiouru’s 58’6”.  Lack of temporary storage in the depth of winter may be an issue.  For example; whilst we plan to have a small environmental ‘footprint’ we will produce rubbish from food wrappings, etc.  This will need to be stored until we can find a suitable disposal receptacle.  Something that may prove to be rather difficult when locked in a frozen canal somewhere in the countryside.
In my army day's the rule was “burn, bash and bury”.  All the food containers were burned, even the cans.  After burning both ends of the cans were cut out before being squashed flat.  Finally the rubbish was buried.  This principle was later amended to “burn, bash and carry”.  No rubbish was to be left behind.  Not to protect the environment, but rather to prevent the enemy from calculating the size of your own force by digging up your rubbish and counting the number of cans. 
We’re not going to have a multi-fuel stove on Waiouru to burn rubbish so our principle will need to be “crush and carry”  As we accumulate rubbish it will need to be bagged and moved outside the cabin.  Who wants smelly rubbish bags in their boat!  The most logical place for the rubbish bags appears to be the foredeck.  I’m not all that keen on attempting to dispose of plastic bags of rubbish that have been frozen to the foredeck or covered in snow.  This just reinforces the need for the foredeck to have a cratch cover.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Cratch

I’m on a steep learning curve when it comes to using the correct names for the various parts of the boat.  My first big mistake has been to refer to the foredeck as the cratch.  Apparently the cratch is the name of the vertically mounted triangular board mounted between the bow and the foredeck.  The plank that runs from the top of the cratch to the cabin is the king plank and the cover that goes over the whole area is the cratch cover (that part is logical).

cratch

We’ve decided to be somewhat unconventional with the windows in the cratch board.  They will open on the hypotenuse (the long side of the triangle for my Australian readers!).  There are two reasons for this.  The first is they will act as an air scoop during those long hot summer days. Ignore the current weather in the UK…. there must be some hot days during the year!  The second reason is they will fold away from the bow hatch which is where our water inlet pipe will be.  If the were to open outwards on the vertical post then they would foul the hatch cover.  If they opened inwards over the foredeck then they would foul that area.

cratch closed

I was think of bring some Australian Jarrah timber with me and having the cratch made from it.  Jarrah is a very heavy and strong Western Australian hardwood.  So hard that termites have considerable difficulty eating it.  However in the end we have decided not to do this as the cost of shipping the timber from Australia makes the idea too expensive.

Now we need to think about the design of the cratch cover.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

What a Storm

We’ve had a very unusual weather event with a large storm passing over the city and it dumped more rain in 30 minutes than we usually get during the entire month.  Getting home proved rather problematic with the localised flooding.  One of the hazards of living in the capital city of the driest state in the driest inhabited continent on earth is the stormwater system.  The pipes don’t have the capacity to handle a sudden downpour and they generally tend to fill with leaves and other debris from autumn further blocking the system.
Unlike the UK, at least our rain is warm....... rather than cold and solid!   
I made a trip to the local outdoor shop during my lunch break.  Just to “window shop” and get ideas for life during a cold winter.  None of the clothing appeared to be suitable for a frozen environment which didn’t really surprise me given the Australian climate.  I was hoping there might be some heavy duty waterproof mittens to examine but they didn’t have any mittens.  There was a small 36 litre daypack on special at $55 which almost tempted me, however I’ve decided to keep my old daypack and look for something in the UK as I’m anticipating there will be a greater selection. 

Monday, 6 December 2010

Shell Update

I made a “spur of the moment” impromptu call to Tyler Wilson this evening to enquire about progress on the fabrication of our shell.

By chance Tim Tyler had just walked into the office and was able to take my call.  There has been a delay getting the roof of Waiouru into the shed.  Minus 18c temperatures and heavy snow have delayed progress however Tim thinks the shell may be ready by next week.  He was expecting our builder, Ben Harp, later today so we might hear more from Ben later in the week.

Meanwhile it’s likely we will be without an internet connection for some of this week.  Not due to snow I might add:-)  It has been quite humid today with a couple of warm showers.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

What a Contrast

We arrived back in Adelaide to a very hot and dry day with the temperature hovering around 35c. A marked contrast to our week in Coffs Harbour!  Many of the communities in central NSW and southern Queensland now face yet more flooding after late and heavy spring rains.  On the other side of the world they are also experiencing extreme temperatures.  But at the other end of the scale!

Whilst in Coffs Harbour we were given our Christmas presents.

The gifts will be most useful when we are on Waiouru.  Jan was given this

captain

and I received this ??????

crew

How well your children get to know you!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Some Photo's of the Wiring

There was no lighting in the dining room and the lounge room had a sole light fitting hanging from the ceiling.

lounge b4

The first thing to do was to put the "apprentices" to work.  Here Steve (the oldest son) does some preparation for the wiring.

steve at work 

Meanwhile I applied my supervisory skills and completed the more technical work.

tom at work

We fitted six downlights into the dining room and ten into the lounge. A new ceiling is going to be installed at a later date so the light fitting have been left suspended at this stage. You can see the new fittings in the following photo.

lounge after

It looks better with the lights on.  There will be even more light when they fit the new ceiling and paint it white.

lounge lights

Next tasks were the wiring for the downstairs bathroom, upstairs en-suite and the outdoor floodlighting.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Beer O'Clock

Yesterday saw a final dash to complete the last of the house re-wiring.  It was particularly hot working under the portable floodlight attempting to grapple with the last of the hidden wiring. 

My surrogate apprentice seemed to have disappeared  When I wandered back down stairs to get a needed handtool I found him relaxing in an armchair with a partially consumed amber "coldie" grasped in his right hand.

My working day hadn't finished so I asked him "What time do you think this is?"  To which our son replied "It's Beer O'Clock Time!"

It would appear there's no fool like an old fool.  My beer o'clock time had to wait another 25 minutes!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Back on the Tools

The last three days have been solidly spent back on the tools. It has been quite a few years since I re-wired a house and by this morning many of my muscles were reminding me it's a young man's game.

Flush light fitting have been wired in the lower floor along with a new outdoor power socket on the pergola. Both sons have helped me wire the new en-suite. Adding wiring to an existing home is always somewhat more complex. Particularly as I like to conceal all the wiring!

The builder and tiler are also here fitting out the new downstairs bathroom and laundry. The area is too small to allow me to also work in there so I'll have to finish the wiring tonight after they have left for the day.

I'll then need to cut off the power to the house to make the final connections. Hopefully tomorrow will be R&R before we catch our flight to Sydney at midday. At this rate I'll need to go back to work for a rest.  But I have enjoyed myself!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Blood sucking leeches

We haven't posted for a couple of days as we are away visiting family in Coffs Harbour, NSW. Our oldest son recently gave up executive life in Sydney and purchased a small farmlet (10 hectares) 12km inland from Coffs Harbour . It's very tranquil. We've woken in the morning to the sounds of the Kookaburra's. The only negative to date has been the leeches. It's interesting watching them rear up and try to attach themself to your bare leg as you walk through the long grass.  Salt or peppermint toothpaste usually encourages them to detach themselves.  I suspect they will not survive once the rain stops and the ground dries out.  However we can't complain about the rain as it has filled the four dams on the property, and it is rather warm rain..... unlike the snow in the UK!

Unfortunately I can't attach any photo's but will do this when we get back home at the end of the week.

Friday, 26 November 2010

One Day

I have a long term plan to purchase a domain name and space on a server where I can establish a website for Waiouru.  I’ve read the book……. Creating a Wordpress Theme for Dummies which seemed quite complicated.  I guess this means I’m worse than a ‘dummy’, however I’m sure I’ll manage.  My idea is that I’ll then transfer the current blog from Blogger to Wordpress and host it on the website where I’ll have more control (and responsibility) over data integrity.

My initial research indicates it would be more cost effective to purchase (rent) a domain name in NZ or Australia along with the server space. However I’m not sure whether this would adversely affect connection speed so more research is required.

I know that developing and designing websites used to require some knowledge of html code, etc.  However our eldest son recently designed his own website using a mac so my assumption is the process has become easier.  Of course I have no flair for ‘design’.  That can be left to Jan or the youngest son.  My strengths are in concept and supervision. Smile

Blog Traffic

I am starting to become fascinated by the ‘hit’ counter widget and country counter ‘thingy’ on the blog.

Although the blog only started last month we’ve already reached 1569 hits.  I’m surprised anyone is interested in my ramblings…… But then more than half the hits are mine…….. as I check in what’s happening {LOL}.

Even more interesting are the originating countries.  How did they find out my blog existed?  I haven’t advertised it!  There aren’t even any photo’s of Waiouru’s construction.  Hopefully that point will be resolved in a couple of weeks and the posts will become more interesting.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Hazards of Bush Walking

OK……. I admit it!   In the last 10 years of bush walking I’ve only once seen a snake.  And that one was on the road at the entrance to the park.   By the time I had told a few friends about the encounter it was as large as this Australian speed hump!
speed bump
The lady at the end of our street had three of them in her yard during last summer’s drought.  I think the snakes were after water from her swimming pool!  She sold the house and moved out of the neighbourhood the same year.
Another lady spotted the following incident between a wallaby and a snake over her back fence.
snake 1
snake2
snake4
snake5
The snake was rather lethargic after such a large meal.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What a difference six months can make

Earlier in the year I was using the internet to price boat components in the UK.  The TV’s, domestic battery bank, sat dome, camera system, etc.  Everything was more expensive when compared with purchasing locally in Oz.  After revisiting some of the original websites in the UK recently I’ve noticed the advertised prices have reduced significantly.  The situation has changed so significantly that it’s actually more cost effective to purchase in the UK.  One assumes the current GFC is forcing UK suppliers to cut their margins?

There is an additional benefit for us as the value of Australian dollar has significantly increased against the UK£ and the US$.  The exchange rate during our last visit was 33p to the A$.  Now it’s 62p.  Additionally, one A$ would buy 50cents US.  Now it’s at parity. 

So UK prices have reduced and the value of the A$ has doubled…….. Each day I go to work I know I’m now making double the money I was 12 months ago.     LOVE IT!!!!!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Insurance

The boat is now insured.  I’m not adverse to a little cheating so rather than do my own research I went back and read the insurance company reviews and recommendation by Bruce from nb ‘Living in Sanity’.  We’ve opted to go with the same company.  The icing on the cake was the location of their office “New Zealand House”.  It appealed to a 5th generation kiwi!

The policy was emailed to me and I spent an evening reading through the pages of fine print making notes of my various queries.  One thing that particularly stuck out was only boats under 9 metres were insured for transport by road.  Our shell will be 18 metres so I queried whether it would be covered - It wasn’t!  I’ve had to arrange additional cover for the one time (we hope) that ‘Waiouru’ will be transported from Tyler Wilson to Great Haywood.

However Jan was pleased to read that we are covered should we want to water ski behind the boat.  Most useful!  Should you happen to be on the same stretch of canal watch out for us. 

Monday, 22 November 2010

Which Camera

I’m not much of a photographer and doubt there is an artistic bone in my body.  However it appears I will soon have the time to learn whilst cruising.  I suspect my excuse of “a poor camera” is going to quickly wear thin with our readers so I’ve decided to look for a good quality SLR camera.

As usual I’ve turned to the internet and been reading various reviews.  After a considerable amount of research I’ve selected the Canon EOS 550D DSLR.

Canon EOS-550D DSLR Camera

The camera can be purchased with or without a standard lens.  So more research was required.  I particularly wanted a general purpose lens.  One that would take wide angle as well as telephoto pictures.  I discovered Canon produce a “luxury” range of lenses which cost significantly more than their usual range.  Apparently this is because the actual lens in body is produced to a much higher quality.  I think the lens that will best fit our criteria is the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM.

 

Canon EF 24-105mm f4 L IS USM

It looks like we will probably have a two or three days in Hong Kong on the journey from Australia and therefore we will take the opportunity to purchase both the camera and lens whilst there.

Somehow I suspect the research and purchase will be the easy part of the process.  Learning to be a proficient photographer will be the greater challenge.  Still, at least with a digital camera I won’t have to wait for the film to be developed to see how poor my photographs turn out!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Engel Fridge/Freezer

The decision to not send a packing case of unaccompanied personal effects means we can’t now take our 40 litre Engel Fridge/Freezer to use on the boat.  However the money saved by not sending the packing case can be put towards subsidising the cost of purchasing a new Engel in the UK.

After price shopping on the internet we have placed an order with MPS for a slightly smaller 32 litre capacity Engel. It has the same width and length as our current model but is 10cm lower in height. Hopefully the reduced height will mean it is easier to fit under the spare bed in the rear cabin.

Engel 32L Fridge-Freezer

Getting the Aerial to the UK

You may recall in an earlier post I mentioned we would remove the external long-range mobile phone aerial off our 4x4 and take it with us to mount on the roof of the boat.

Jackaroo

The idea is to use it to improve phone and data coverage.

The aerial was to go in the wooden packing case but the recent change to the plan means we need to look for another option.  It is too long to fit in our suitcase so I decided I’d need to either make, or purchase, a tube to carry it in.  More money to be wasted!  Then Jan remembered we already had a cardboard tube containing the house plans.  It’s just the right size!

aerial

I will tuck the tube under my arm; casually walk onto the aircraft and then place it into the overhead locker.  Hopefully it won’t create too much attention when it is X-Rayed at the security checkpoint.  I’ve just had another thought!  I can wrap socks around the aerial before inserting it in the tube.  They will prevent the aerial from rattling around inside the tube and it will also free up space and weight in the suitcase.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Don’t be a “Galah”

Local derogatory expression for an Australian who is loud, raucous and not very intelligent. Also the name of a variety of local bird. They have strong similarities!  They are quite prevalent and a flock of them can be extremely noisy (I mean the birds…… although it’s sometimes true of the former!)

GalahTwo Galahs

This variety is pink, grey and white. 

I actually find the lorikeets a more attractive bird.

Lorikeets

This group regularly decides to feed in the gum tree outside our bedroom window early in the morning .

more lorikeets

A slightly different variety of these live in Western Australia where they are commonly known as “Twenty-eights”.  Why? Because their call sounds almost exactly like they are calling out the number twenty-eight.

Camera System

There were a few things I quickly discovered about steering when taking to the canal in a hire boat.

· The boat is damned long and you can’t see the bow.

· The bow arrives at the bend long before you can see around it

· You will invariably meet an oncoming boat on a blind bend, bridge corner, or other visually obstructed location.

· For a novice, the thought and actions taken to avoid a collision can be very stressful. And it wasn’t even my boat!

I know that with time we are almost certain to become proficient in manoeuvring the boat. However, between now and then, it’s possible I could place many “dents” in the canal banks.

I’m not adverse to using new technology provided it comes are a cost effective price. So I started considering fitting a bow camera to the boat with a monitor at the helm. A car reversing system was the obvious option. They are getting to be more common and consequentially the cost reduces. They are also 12v DC.

The initial idea was to purchase it in Australia and send it to the UK in the packing case I’d built. The boat would be finished and I therefore decided to opt for a wireless system. All the camera would need was a 12v power supply wire. Further research into reversing systems indicated a wireless system may not be a reliable option. I also discovered cameras are manufactured to a variety of standards. As the cameras were going to be mounted on the bow they would obviously be exposed to the elements. It is also possible they might be hit with water from leaking lock gates.

Cameras have a two digit International Protection (IP) rating. The first digit indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against access to hazardous parts and the second is protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against harmful ingress of water. <click here for wiki>

A code of IP66 would mean the camera was dust and waterproof. IP67 means it is dust proof and can be immersed down to 1 metre in water.

By using Google I found a supplier in Australia with the right types of cameras. Then we decided against the packing case option. No room for the camera system in our baggage!

Back to Google and I started looking for a UK based supplier. I was very please when I came across http://www.reversingcamerasuk.com. The website was informative and Chris promptly responded to all my queries. We have decided to purchase two cameras. A wide angle lens that will point down at the bow which will enable me to see where it is when mooring or winding the boat, etc.

CAM022

The second camera will have a narrow angle lens and look forward to give us early warning (I hope) on those blind bends. They are both IP67 rated and will be mounted, along with the horn and headlamp, on a vertical box section post between the bow hatch and the cratch board..

CAM063_Narrow_angle_CCD_bracket_camera_white_body_m

We will have a colour LED/LCD 7” monitor at the stern.

monitor

I have yet to finalise how it will be mounted. However it will not be weatherproof so I will need to make it removable.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Free coffin to good home

Last week I became very energetic and build a timber packing case from left over plywood and ripped down pine.  It was built exactly the same width as our Engel 12v freezer with the intention it would be used to send all our unaccompanied baggage to the UK.

packing case 

Now it’s surplus to requirements and probably looking for a good home.  What went wrong?  Well two things happened that culminated in the decision to cancel the plan to use it.  The first was uncertainty over the cost of shipping.  An Australian freight forwarder phoned me and advised he could get the case as far as Birmingham as they only did “port to port”.  I would then have to arrange collection and pay for the clearance, duty, etc.  Consequentially the cost became an unknown factor.  The second thing that happened was Jan asking do we needed to take the Engel freezer.  “Why not leave it behind and buy another in the UK?”  It was a logical question and caused me to reconsider the plan.  The money saved by not shipping the case would offset the cost of the freezer.  We think it will be possible to squeeze all our essential possessions into our airline accompanied baggage allowance.

So one slightly short and high coffin is available to a local home.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

News on the Shell

Last night I telephoned the UK and had a very informative conversation with our shell builder Tim Tyler, and found him a most informative and pleasant fellow.  He had previously contacted Ben Harp, our boat builder, recommending we consider adding an additional foot to the foredeck.  The purpose of my call was to establish why this had arisen.  Tim was able to explain that because our foredeck as so low it would be very difficult to step up onto the side lockers and out of the boat.  He wanted to build a second, lower locker across the bow that would act as a step.  However by doing this there would be very little floor space in the foredeck area. Hence the request for the additional foot.

Bow section Updated

This is my updated impression of what the bow section might look like.  The red area is the locker above the bow thruster tube and the yellow is the diesel tank for the saloon stove.  The purple area is storage and the cyan is the new step which has been recommended by Tim Tyler to assist in exiting the boat.  If we add a foot to the bow then we will need to take it from somewhere else.  I have a feeling the saloon will be to compartment to suffer the loss.

I then asked Tim what was the status of the shell.  He was able to inform me there had been a slight delay waiting for the 20mm baseplate steel but now all the steel had been cut out and actual fabrication would commence very soon.  Tim estimates it will take three weeks to complete the shell.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Clicking of Needles

It has been quite a few years since Jan did any knitting.  Who needs woollen clothes in Australia’s warm climate!  Well she has found her knitting needles and is now spending her free time knitting useful UK winter accessories.  She has already decided there will be no woollen jumpers on the boat as she believes they will be too hard to dry.  From our time in colder climates we both recall mittens are warmer than gloves, and so Jan has been knitting mittens.  Two pair each to begin with.  They will probably be ‘under-mitts’.  We will purchase water resistant outer mittens at the start of our first winter in the UK.

mitten

She also has a reasonable quantity of surplus wool from the various garments she has knitted in the past.  I noticed during a visit to my mother in Perth earlier in the year that she had a way of knitting woollen squares which didn’t require them to be sewn together.  This speeds up the process and makes it easier to produce an end product.  I mentioned this to Jan who asked for some instructions.  She has been experimenting and worked out how to use the technique.  This is the beginning of her first knee blanket.

knee blanket

None of the squares are sewn together.

I think her plan is to produce a few blankets for use on the boat during cold evenings.