Friday, December 31, 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, December 30, 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, December 29, 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, December 28, 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, December 27, 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, December 26, 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, December 24, 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, December 23, 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, December 22, 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, December 21, 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, December 19, 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, December 18, 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, December 16, 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, December 13, 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, December 12, 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, December 11, 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, December 10, 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, December 9, 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, December 8, 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, December 6, 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, December 5, 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, December 4, 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, December 2, 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, December 1, 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!