Tuesday, 12 April 2016

1st Week - On Captain Hastings

Well, we have survived our first week as proper continuous cruisers on the inland waterways - just!. It is quite difficult to comprehend that you do not have some of the expected luxuries of 'normal living'. For example, we have to monitor our water consumption, we have a flushing toilet, but this has a holding tank which we have to keep an eye on, we don't always have a TV signal, our WiFi doesn't always have a strong signal and of course we no longer have use of a car, so organising food shops have to coincide with whether we are near to a town or not!! Having Sandra by my side, as you all know she is freakily organised, has ensured we have lists for everything which helps no end in this regard. She has also insisted that I keep a 'Ships Log' which monitors engine use, water fill ups and much more. Our biggest issue this week has been our energy consumption - electricity. Captain Hastings has normal 240V AC electricity, this allows us all the usual comforts of a normal living. However, we have to produce this electricity by running the boats engine and charging batteries, this energy is then inverted which changes DC electricity onto AC. We therefore have a massive bank of 'Leisure Deep Cycle Batteries'. If you look at your car battery, double this in size and then multiply this by five, you get some idea! What should happen is as we go along these batteries are charged via an alternator on the engine (a bit like the old dynamo's you used to have on bikes - the faster you peddled the more energy produced - the brighter the light). We have a computerised battery management system on board and one read out was showing full batteries - yet on another reading it was showing 35% - 55% full charge, which was a concern. Did we have full batteries? or did we have half empty batteries? Our concern was always and is, if we run out of battery power we're in trouble - for example our freezer would defrost! After chatting on social media with many of my boating contacts and going through various processes to 'self test' the systems, it came clear that we would have to call into a marina and discuss the situation with a professional. We carried on cruising for a few days, using the generator for back up energy and indeed a 'travel pack' a clever system where the engine produces AC directly for on board heavy duty requirements, for example washing machine, which by passes the need for inversion of energy via the batteries. Finally, after a sleepless night on the Sunday, and the fact that after 6 hours of cruising our batteries had not improved - we visited a marina we have used previously. Our friendly engineer reviewed the situation and promptly told us one of the batteries was about to explode! They needed to cool down, he needed to get some protective gear on and for us both to keep away from the engine bay. It seems we had just arrived at the marina in time, if we had we had left it longer - a massive battery would have exploded sending acid all over the engine bay and doing a great deal of damage. Later the diagnosis was that all of our batteries were pretty much knackered. We agreed to have a new battery bank fitted, five new leisure batteries. Over the next few hours the batteries were slowly removed and as they were the boat took on a real list as the ballast of the boat was out of sync. Without batteries we had no engine, so we were 'poled' by two staff into a mooring, fortunately with an electric land-line to hook up on. Unfortunately, due to how the system on the boat is set up and some items only using DC (no batteries - no DC), some of our on board facilities were no longer available, toilet (not flushing) taps (no pump - no water), but we did have AC electricity for lighting - reading, watching TV and of course the AGA still worked, so as a treat Sandra did her magic and cooked a great curry! Other than the above, the week has gone really well. We have stayed reasonably local to our old marina (thank heavens!) and have travelled to Willington, Burton on Trent, Alrewas and Fradley. We have had some great laughs and met some amazing people - one was a musician who had a piano on board and also played the piano accordion (which I used to and still own one) he played beautifully, including some classical stuff that Sandra and I loved. We had a great night out, where we got a taxi into Burton Town, drank amazing real ales in a traditional ale house and had a lovely meal in our favourite restaurant 'Balti Towers'. We also managed to have a week where we didn't argue (much) and realised we are still best mates and sill well in love! sad or what? and the most important thing of all - we finished our jigsaw and laughed a great deal

1 comment:

  1. Fab first week !
    Sorry you had battery traumas but all's well and all that ....
    Hope ' fawlty towers' was good ! ?