Staying put for five nights

So, the forecast was spot on – I use the Met Office 5 day forecast. Normally quite good and I think they change it around 0900, when they get to the office and kick the computer I guess. We generally stay put on high days & holidays – toooo many boats and cyclists and walkers etc. We’re old & wise enough to let em all go by. It also means we don’t have to run the engine – no, not once, in all the five days. The 400W of solar power kept us all topped up, despite watching TV and showing some DVDs…

Short video of why we don’t get going when the sun shines . . .
Someone left the paddles slightly open on the bottom lock and caused the pound above to drop a couple of feet!
Here’s the base station for the weather station – note the inside/outside temperatures! It also shows the UV (factor 6) and 802 W/m2 – gives me an indication what we should be harvesting.
And here’s Viv’s little friends! Normally heard, rather than seen – dabbling at our boat, around 0500 in the morning!! We have a huge bag of duck food and Viv feeds them, often. I’m sure they follow us along the canal.
And now sleeping it all off!!
Another hot day and a good sunset. Such a still scene.
Our old doilies are looking a bit tired. They get snagged on the clasp and we keep bleaching/washing them but Viv got it into her head “I can make those!”. So off to the craft shop in Atherstone – one crochet hook and a few bundles of cotton later. I think each one takes 150m of cotton!
And here’s one Viv made earlier. Neat
Not quite a David Attenborough but I’m spotting lots of wildlife along the canal and in the the small sections of woodland – seen lots of butterflies: orange tip, common blue (above?), speckled wood, peacock a small tortoiseshell. I also saw a Jay in the woods.
And here’s the happy stitcher – 2nd one on the go. Keeps her quiet – as would a Margarita!

But I don’t like Spam

Yeah, I opened up the option for comments and all I get is Spam! So, I’ll just go ahead and close them again. The email address is on the main page, should you really want to contact us.

Days 15-17

We decided to move the boat down the two remaining locks and get away from the prospect of listing again. CRT know there’s a problem with the leaky locks but they have to prioritise their work and I guess this one is way down the list. We enjoyed our pint in the New Swan (Church End’s Goats Milk, £3.30 and it’s a dog friendly place) and Viv got her crochet kit. Poor Toby was trekked around the shops but got his reward in a swim in the river Anker, close to the new mooring. The forecast was spot on and in fact the boat recorded 30.9 degrees – might have been influenced by the hot roof but it was Scorchio!

The levels had remained low all day, so we moved down through locks 10 & 11.
Toby found his “Flubber”, the floating toy
And had a brief splash about – chance to cool down
Final spot – good views – lots of solar, no one else about and plenty of water
Time for the Naked Chef (?!) to get about his business and cook up his signature dish – Paella. With smoked haddock, cod, salmon and prawns. Using Paellero (well the Spanish use this stuff – it’s a sachet containing all the ingredients you need – turmeric, saffron, cinnamon etc). A prawn cocktail to start with cherry fruits in jelly and sauce anglais (i.e. custard!) to finish. All washed down with a nice bottle of Puglia. Hard times eh?
It got pretty hot today and we were rewarded with a decent sunset too. This’ll do us here for a few days – rains due next week (but only in the afternoons!)
Here’s the short video of that leaky lock gate – No 10

Day 14 – All Fixed – Onwards

Today is the day. Lee from Cox Autos is due this morning to install the fixed alternator & control box. It did look nice and shiny – the stator all rewound. It’s been a trying time but by lunchtime we were off – our dues paid to Springwood Haven (3x £10/night plus £20 for the pump out) and our goodbyes said to a few of the inmates – still there for their solar installations. (Del & Ali on Derwent6 and Simon & Carol on Kestrel). Plus Stuart on Aecern, who was setting off . . . heading North! All the best. We were bound for Atherstone, some shopping after lock 6 and then a quiet mooring for Easter. After lock 9.

A man alone with his thoughts and his pipe (and a pink gin!)
Forecast is for some excellent sunny weather – days of 20+ degrees and full sunshine
Lee turns up on time and sets to putting all the gear back – first the control box – two wires for the a.c. output and three for the energising of the stator. Box all sealed and with a warranty for a year too. Thumbs up to Cox Autos.
including the shiny refurbished alternator – stator coil rewound, relaminated, new brushes, new external wiring and painted
in situ – a tight fit and now all belts tightened
Note to boaters: these bits of kit need a service every 4 years. The brushes wear down, the alternator runs at 800 Volts, yep, that’s why there’s a control box to transform it down to 230. So look after your kit!
a happy Lee – invoice paid!
and away we go . . . the upper Coventry canal is quite scenic
a mightily relieved skipper – maybe just a bit happy? Maybe? Just a bit?
Yes, you meet em all on the canal . . . so where are these Alpacas?
Ah, there’s one! We have a Karma Llama on board . . .
Hmm. Them again.
Time for bluebells
and frollicking horses
then it’s the 11 locks at Atherstone – doing just 5 then shop, then 4 more until we stop
Viv opts to drive and Steve winds
always with lots of cheerful help from the volunteers
Another one for Lucia – bridge 42
star of the day – Viv!
Are we watching Viv’s effortless driving or the dogs?
After Steve shops at the local Co-op, just a few hundred yards from the canal – we swop over and Viv does the winding…. lock 9 then stop, a good rural spot and still within walking distance of the town. A very long day but the end of the frustration of boat failures . . . for now!
The final resting place photo
One of our favourite sites to moor
We locked up and went back into town – for some Church End beer and for Viv to get some crochet stuff to make some doilies for the windows plus restock our liquor cupboard, getting low on gin, whisky and wine, which won’t do.
However, by the morning we had a slight list – the pound down by a foot! A leaky lock ahead.
Listing to port? Hence the phrase, rolling out of bed . . .

Days 11 > In for repairs

So, Monday morning and at 0830 we chug the 100 yds along to the marina to let Cox Autos come and take out the Travel power to test & repair.

http://www.coxautomotive.co.uk/services.html

Lee turned up farly sharpish and in under an hour had the kit off and returned to base to run the tests. Some time later we had the dreaded phone call . . . there’s two problems a module duff on the control panel and the stator in the alternator is faulty . . totals £664 with VAT! Time the saw the arm & a leg off then?

So marooned here until Thursday when hopefully we can be on our way again, with a fully refurbished generator plus a year’s guarantee.

What else is lining up to go wrong? Still, count ourselves lucky that we are in the right place – a cosy, friendly marina with electricity and the generator specialists just 5 miles away.

A circular walk on Sunday
Across the fields of oil seed rape
Toby enjoyed a different walk
Back on the canal and a bit of heritage – how many phone lines did this telegraph pole support? And why so many?
Ah, the bothersome Travel Power control panel
And the big alternator
And here’s Adagio, nestled in amongst the boats – home for four days.
View from the bank above

Days 9 & 10 – Le Weekend

Chance for the glumness to subside? Moored up near bridge 27 on the Coventry. A quiet weekend, not moving at all. Lots of sunshine – the solar panels doing their job and taking the batteries to 100%. Viv cleaned all the windows & Steve polished some of the boat. Visited the marina to see about Monday – saw Kevin (the Victron guy – who helped to install the batteries last year). Seems they are going to be very busy next week, so Cox’s will have to come out & remove the gear themselves – suits me.

I bought the descaler – Leescale (£23!!) but it is designed for the purpose of descaling toilets so, job done(!). Still feeling extremely depressed but I guess this is a shakedown week and it’s all about getting things sorted. The forecast for Easter is 18 degrees! About double what it is today. So that looks good.

A couple of boats moored here – one called Chloe – rings a bell and so it should as we met Steve on his boat on the Ashby last Summer. He even came round for tea!

Took some more pix . .

Saturday night – time for tapas & Cava
Sunday morning stroll up the hill – taking photos of the boat – middle picture? Then zoomed in:

20x zoom
Chloe too, although I heard Steve say he wanted to rename it Voyager 3
Fields of oil seed rape plus a Virgin train
The weather station – I’ve made a rod for my own back with this device. Always having to put it back up when moored – having to find which way is north and then the base station won’t talk to the computer . . . a pain but it is a useful hobby – see weather.vivatek.co.uk
A good buy these solar panels – they have more than paid for themselves – we reckon, on the back of an envelope, that they would have to generate 32,000Ah to balance their cost when compared to running the engine. Well, we’re over 35,000Ah now and going strong. A good installation from Onboard Solar, by Tim Davies.
A neighbour – two boats in fact – the wee one at the bow was a rowing boat on the Thames. Now rescued and converted. It has a 5 hp engine and is very useful for a run to the shops as you can turn it around quite easily.
And their dog . . . Dill

Day 8 – Springwood Haven

Very glum day today. I guess you do get days like this and it is only the first week and so, kinda like doing Sea Trails – somethings have gotta give! Yesterday it was the Jabsco Macerator toilet. All fixed – Steve was on the job (!). And today we aim to sort out the Dometic Travel Power – this is a fancy name for a 230V alternator plus its grey control box. Fancy indeed, for yes, to buy new they are £4,000!! It just supplies the boat with 3.5kW of A.C. power. It is the only way we can recharge the leisure batteries, so kind of vital.

It had cut out a week or two ago but after a few minutes came back. So, i was guessing, it got too hot and some kind of thermal cut out operated. It happened again recently and again when we were doing some washing. For a moment we were running the washing machine from the batteries when it cut out and the output current went up into the 100’s!! Woe.

Luckily for us there is a specialist company called Cox Auto, which specialise in repairing these gadgets and they are quite close – in Atherstone. So we chugged on 3 hours to Springwood Haven marina, just past Nuneaton and have arranged with them to moor there on Monday for a few days @£10/night. We can hook up with the electricity and let the guys from Cox Auto come and get our kit – test it- hopefully service it and then put it all back.

Meanwhile, another frosty start but a fairly uneventful trip along the Coventry canal.

Along the Coventry canal – past the still rather odd Charity Dock
A familiar mooring spot – we spent quite a few days here last Summer, when we bought the new set of batteries.
Maybe monochrome best suits the mood?
A familiar boat – Sigma Alpha Mu (Sam I guess)
Springwood Haven Marina – a very helpful & friendly place

Day 7 – staying put

Very cold start today – temperatures went down to zero (-0.9 in fact) and there was a ground frost. Supposed to be very sunny later as we need the solar juice to top up the batteries. Boats – bl@@dy boats – always sommit to do – fix, repair, replace . . .today, it was the loo. It stopped working. Macerate it would not. Hmm. No option but to take it apart . . . to quote Spike Milligan ” there were Richards everywhere”! It seemed to be all scaled up. So I took the offending bits apart and let em soak in descale stuff. Several hours later, it all went back together and it was happy & working. It took quite a few hours more for the pong to go and to hose Steven down!! Just lucky we hadn’t planned to move on today & that we are near services. And lo, the sun did come out and dozens of those amperes came flooding in.

What next??? And no, I don’t think you want any photos of today’s adventures!

Day 6 – Sutton Stop

Bit of a longish day for us – nearly 5 hours of chugging and most of it, a tad cold. Through Newbold Tunnel, past Armada boats and All Oaks Wood. Quite a scenic bit with Butterburs, golf courses, trains, motorways and Ansty plus Carter’s Bridge and then Hawkesbury Junction (or Sutton Stop).

Newbold Tunnel
Here’s one for Stephen & Lucia – obsessed with Life, the Universe and Everything
Past a small mooring with interesting “stuff”
And interesting boat names . . .
Here’s a Kinky one . . .
All the flora is burgeoning . . . pussy willows?
Ahead is the M6 – traffic hurtling by . . . we’ll stick to our 3 mph
Lots of these fellas – we call them Butterburs but they could Winter heliotropes?
Ah, once you see these, the end is nigh
I always find these sites fascinating – in a kind of Sci-Fi way . .
Viv tries an arty pic . . .
Through the wee stop lock and then a smart 180 degree turn and under a bridge without hitting anything! Moor up just past the old pumping station and the sun comes out. Enough for one day.
The final resting spot photo, with sparkles. We’re now on the Coventry canal. At the turn is the famous Greyhound pub – which at 1730 was heaving. Really odd as it’s not on any main road and tricky to get to, by car. Good food (homemade pies) and usually a good variety of beer – today they had Hare & Hound (3.8%) and a Salopian beer Cico Buff (named after a Cocteau Twin song from the 80’s), a bit chewy at 6.9%
Happy Viv . . . with beer! Too full to sit inside.

Day 5 – Newbold

Getting a bit behind – that’s what boating does. The days all merge. Paused at Rugby Visitor Moorings – quick trip to Tesco and then on to Newbold. So hardly any hours done at all today. Not stopped here before but there’s a pub and Mark said he’d drive over from Barby to see us.

The huge earthworks for the new bridge at Clifton, for the huge new housing estate
Followed by the serene bridge
And not much further on . . . Newbold
Someone described my tiller pin as “Navigation Teddy”
Had a nice visit from Mark & Pancho & Layla – had a good walk around the quarry park nearby too
This is the way in to the Barley Mow
And a lunchtime pit of Purity by Mad Goose (or is that the other way around – who cares?)