Sunday, 27 September 2009

Another quiet week

A week on and the inverter is working as intended. The batteries are lasting longer, as in twice as long, which leads me to believe that the old inverter was very inefficient or that the batteries have been miraculously revamped. Well if it saves me the price of a new set of batteries for a couple of months that suits me just fine.

I'm not quite sure what's happening here and I'm
not entirely sure I could do this even if I wanted to.

I had the usual discussion with a fellow boater the other night (hi Bob). You can take a stab in the dark which one it was. Well it's one of three isn't it. Cassette versus holding tank; the licensing, or more accurately, the non-licensing of canal boats and the other potential discussion is the old constant moorers thing. But this one was the second, licensing. I'm never one to shy away from informing all and sundry of my extreme radical liberal view of the world. Sorry Bob.

On the whole a quiet week but one where I finished three bows and that should hopefully pay for the Rayburn with a bit of luck. I must now find if the local boatyard can crane it into the front deck so I can haul it inside. I think I'd better measure everything again. Just to be sure you understand. As far as I can remember I had several spare inches around the range while it would sit in the cratch area. I hope it's enough. Now what am I going to place it on in the galley, slate, concrete, tiles. All suggestions greatfully received.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Accident above the Ashby

I made a assertion on my blog of 2nd Sept that constant cruisers provided a service to BW by being the eyes and ears of the canal during the winter. This has just been proved by the fact that a motorist has just crashed into Bridge 37 on the Ashby canal and I was the first one on the scene doing my "is everyone ok" bit. The driver was a little shaken by the ordeal, quite understandably, but no one was hurt. I suggested that she get in touch with the AA to get towed home, deal with all the insurance and official bits from there and that I would inform BW of the bridge damage.

So within five minutes of the event, BW had been informed of the structural damage to the bridge. You see, constant cruisers ARE the eyes and ears of the canal, at least on this occasion. But as the situation was being dealt with an idiot arrived in a new Range Rover and the bloke inside started shouting at the unfortunate women who had had the accident stating the she could have killed his family. I can only assume that he was coming over the hump back bridge in one direction and that the unfortunate women in the other. She saw him too late and breaked, skidding on the gravel and ending up taking out the bridge. Said geezer just drove past the accident, up the road, then turned around and came back to the accident site to have a rave. He had never even checked that everyone was ok before leaving the accident site. Some people really love to abuse others in a helpless state. They're normally called bullys in my world. He had driven off before I could make my way over as I was clearing the road of debris otherwise I may have had words with him. Prat.

Friday, 18 September 2009


I mentioned that my inverter had stopped working and had been dispatched back to Sterling Power Products on Monday. Well today a package arrived and it was a brand new inverter. I sent a 2500W old style model and received back a 2700W brand new model worth around £500 smackers and I didn't even send proof of purchase. How's that for service. Absolutely incredible. I was expecting to have to ring them up, send several emails, write threatening letters and then get a solicitor involved before getting the thing back but here it is, five days later with inverter power again. I know that there are those who will say, "well it shouldn't have gone wrong in the first place." But they don't live in the real world.

This is all a bit of a hash up at the minute
but I will fit it all properly tomorrow.

Mr Charles Sterling, I doff my hat to you sir, for you are the king of customer service. I doff my hat to only one or two people every ten years and this is most definitely one of the best. You may have guessed, I am flabbergasted. Lisa is quite impressed as well. It's after eight and the engine is still running as the batteries are still on their last legs, but who cares, I have an inverter. The only problem I can see with it is that it has no battery level indicator. I'll get myself a Smartguage. I've always wanted one.

If only I can get my bank to give me the same level of customer satisfaction. Fat chance.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Boat polishers and spare bits

Are you a boat polisher? There have been two boat polishers moored ahead of us on subsequent nights. They seem to spend their time between tieing up the boat and tea time polishing one side of their pride and joy. Do they do this every night? None of them are liveaboards so it's probably a bit of a novelty but their boats are not in perfect condition so I just don't see the point. Maybe I'm missing something. Pickles has never been polished, only painted and washed. Maybe I'll do some polishing at the weekend. Then again, maybe not.

I mentioned that I took the generator apart the other day and I was quite chuffed that it went very well. I was a little perturbed that today I found a bolt, washer and nut left lying on the roof obviously left over from the disassembly/assembly of said generator. I've no idea where they are from but when it's happened before there were no serious consequences. I think. No word from Sterling about the inverter. They may be letter writers rather than telephoners, texters or emailers. I may check tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Everthing comes in threes

Now the manifold has dropped off the generator. I had to spend the afternoon taking it all apart and putting it back together again.

Nothing else should happen now as this is the third technical problem in as many days. Fingers crossed, lucky heather in the button hole and rabbits foot on the key ring.

More technical problems

I have at last fixed the diesel leak that had been niggling me for the last year or so. I got through the BSC by disguising it and by wiping the pipes and taking away all evidence. I say a leak but it was more of an occasional drip that is contained in an old margarine tub that I emptied every week back into the tank. It all came to a head when I returned from France and found the bilges with an inch or two of oily water. The counter hatch had blocked water escapes and rain water had got in. I'm not particularly obsessive about any aspect of the boat but I do like a dry bilge. Which is what I now have. Life doesn't get better that this.

The repair only required taking a joint apart and putting some PTFE tape around one of the threads but it was the thought of something breaking and being left without an engine that prevented me from doing the job. Why do they put joints in a system that have no method of undoing; no flats to grip the spanner. Needless to say that I merely put the original part back into situ and did not replace it with something with flats as I should have done. No doubt I'll have the same problem in several years.

I've also fixed my old bike that is on the roof and can be spotted on the majority of photos on this blog. It's a bit of a rusty heap that I picked up at a French market for fifteen euros and it's really not worth stealing (that's not to say that it won't be) but we just use as emergency transport and I just hate those folding bikes. It wasn't rusty when I bought it but it was old and neglected. Now it's even older and more neglected but working again.

We're still at Shakerstone (that can't be fourteen days already, can it?) but will be moving through Market Bosworth to get water by the end of the week. Terri has been up from London as her course doesn't start for a couple more weeks and she has been invaluable helping Lisa in school although I don't think she's been vetted. It's all right for some. Bloody students.

We've had the fire on for the last couple of nights but turned way down on summer settings. A bag of coal will last over a week on this setting but keeps us toasty. We are planning to buy a coal fired Rayburn before the advent of winter and have identified one on the interweb for that purpose. It's being bought with my bow making money so I must get on with them.

I haven't got into my stride with these blogs yet so they are not as entertaining as I would like. Bare with me though. I think it's the fact that I am not writing regularly and tend to write too much. Quality(sic) not quantity. And piccies of course.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Technical difficulties

The Shakerstone Festival went ahead this year and it didn't rain at all although it threatened to. The visitor numbers seemed quite good on the Sunday and the number of visiting boats was good with over twenty ex-working boats. We had a couple of pints over the weekend just to get into the spirit you understand. They were clearing the site up until late last night and it all looks a little desolate now. The boats are making their way back to their respective home moorings and the local winding hole is jammed up with waiting boats as everyone is facing the wrong way.

We are hanging on here until our water runs out and it will probably run out tomorrow but will move to a more convenient mooring. The festival itself seemed a great success and the highlight was the Red Arrows. I've seen them so often on telly that I don't know if I've ever seen then live before. Even Lisa was impressed and that's saying something. The rest of the festival is the usual round or classic car displays, camel racing, quad stunts and dog antics. I think that the main problem with the Shakerstone Festival is that it has no one theme. It is a bit of a farmers festival (oh arr, oh arr, get orf my land, etc). It was also very expensive for entry. £40 for a family ticket for the weekend, £10 for an adult for the Saturday, £15 for the Sunday and £26 for the boat and up to four adults. Maybe this isn't much but it certainly seems a lot to me. To be honest and at the risk of appearing a tight ass, we don't pay anything as the site gate keepers come off duty at three in the afternoon and we can see the whole thing by about ten past. Oh, the cats out of the bag now. We're hardly going to welcome next year are we? All that money that the Ashby Canal Association are out of pocket by. Shame on me.

The above was written last week but I forgot to post it. We now have technical difficulties here as the inverter has gone u/s (unserviceable) and we have now resorted to generator power. Lisa reckons she's got vibration white finger when its on the counter. The problem with generator power is that after eight o'clock we have to resort to 12 volt only. Not really a big deal but I love making a big fuss about it all. The inverters gone back to Sterling so we'll see what they make of it. I've also been getting the car through the mot and have been crawling around inside the bonnet and under the car for the last couple of days. No piccies as it's after seven and I've got other things to do on the computer before it all goes off. See ya.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

We are now at the Shakerstone Festival site in exactly the same position that we were in last year. We tried further on but couldn't get Pickles near enough to the bank for the boarding plank to be of any use. So here we will stay for the next week watching the arrival of everybody else and the working boats. Roger Fuller is already here with the butty Ilford but he's moored up with the plebs and not where the working boats are to be. Ilford is not amonst those who are not on the listing so I don't know if he's been thrown off the historic boats section 'cause he wasn't booked in.

lisa has had her first day back at work yesterday and was a little trepidacious about it. I've been remaining around the boat in order to get it all ship shape and to unpack and to get my workshop up and running so I can get those bows manufactured starting next week. I have to get that income started as soon as possible.

Reading some of the other blogs, I am very glad that we are around a lock free area and that we don't have to queue up to go through. It seems that back holidays are used by marina dwellers to air their expensive toys and quite rightly so. The winter remains the domain of the constant cruisers and the liveaboards to have the canals to ourselves without hirers, marina dwellers, weekenders, occasional and weekend boaters. It's also the best time of year for canal boating in my opinion. Ice crunching is the business and separates the sheep from the lambs, the wheat from the chaff and the men from the boys.

BW seem to have done a bit of a clear out of some of the liveaboards on the Ashby this summer. On the way here from Alvecote we met many boats that had been on the Ashby when we left and had been here over the winter. Some of the popular moorings are cleared of liveaboards. I realise that this is a popular move amonst many boaters (moving all liveaboards off the canals would be even more popular with many) but it takes much of the charicter of the canals away and deprives them of an eyes and ears that report many problems.

I've realised that our batteries are on the way out since arriving back from France. They only last three hours with only the TV and fridge and the occasional light on in the evening. They also charge suspiciously fast when using the engine and only get to 14.4 volts. I know they have only lasted 18 months but we do tend to abuse them as we cook with electric and run them down till we can get nothing else from them. They were also cheap as I bought them second hand from a chandlery who told me that they had been taken from a new boat whose owner insisted on gel type batts. We may have to get two this month and two next (I know, I know. It's not good practice etc, etc, etc).

I don't know about you but I think that bags for life are a pain in the ass. Yes, I can see the point of them and any cut in the number of plastic bags can only be a good thing. But we now have three bags for life stuffed with dozens of bags for life. The problem is that they are bags for life and as such you cannot throw them away, they are for...well, life. If they were merely plastic bags we could use them as bin liners, rubbish, dog poo bags etc but bags for life cannot be used for any of these purposes as they can only be used for shopping. The other problem is that it is down to the individual to remember to bring these bags for life with them to the supermarket and if you don't you have to buy another set of bags for life hence the proliferation of them on our boat.