Tuesday 30 April 2013

Alternator Regulator Blues

Woke up this morning, couldn't believe my eyes
Woke up this morning, just couldn't believe my eyes
Domestic battery voltage was only 10.5

Thought, go cruising early, charging ought to be the fix
Said, go cruising now, man, charging gotta be the fix
But after an hour on the throttle, still only 10.6

Rang up my base-man, said it's the charger at fault
My clued-up base-man – he said it's the charger at fault
Without a replacement, this travelling's come to a halt

Could go on, but you'd probably rather I didn't
Said I could go on, but…

Point is, without domestic battery power, you ain't got much. No water from the tank, no light in the night, no functioning heating (the stove's broke as well), no means of charging the iPad. Just the ability to keep moving along the cut, 'cos the engine's still running.

Were we worried? Yup. To the point of turning around and going back to base to get it all fixed. Until my best beloved met another of her angels. Allan, on NB Pengalanty was moored up in front, and strongly recommended a local engineer. A phone call brought Philip in no time, and after confirmation of the diagnosis, he went off to get the needed bit – the regulator on the alternator. Some hours later, and many later than originally intended, we left Gailey for the second time, and made it through the narrows just north of Autherley junction before tying up for the night. Even better, Philip took away the stove door and it should be ready for us in the morning when we call in at his boatyard.

Debit it to experience, my adopted Uncle Paul used to say. Moral this time – when you're going on an extended cruise, do a little one first with no pressure, to make sure everything's working…

Meanwhile – here's to the man at base who could do diagnosis over the phone, to Allan who knew a man who could, and to Philip who knew what he was doing.

The hero

The villain

Monday 29 April 2013

Under way

The 2013 peregrination has commenced! My best beloved's brother & wife are coming across the Irish Sea with their caravan in early May, and we've planned to meet up on the Llangollen canal so they can have a sleepover on Erin Mae. And catch up with us, of course. So we have a fairly tight schedule if we're to get to Chirk on time (there's a song in there somewhere). We were going to set out on Saturday, but issues with the door of our Squirrel stove imposed a delay. It's still not sorted – but that's for a different post.

Being boaters of the less hardy variety, we'd been looking askance at the weather forecasts. However, it's already late, so we started out under a lowering sky – it had changed from cloudless to sunless in the time it took us to get showered and breakfasted. We'd decided to get as far as we reasonably could on this first day, and everything went our way, with most of the locks set and waiting for us to go straight in. Even the wind, which blew us about a bit at times, was little more than a nuisance. 14 miles and 12 locks later, we're ensconced at Gailey Wharf.

So here we go. The summer stretches out before us (or will do, once it arrives). We've got various plans to meet up with family and friends, but exactly what we'll do after our visit to Llangollen, who knows? That's the adventure. Meanwhile, there's a stir fry to cook and an accordion to practise.

Tuesday 23 April 2013


One of the early questions when we bought Erin Mae – how would music fit the space and the schedule? The guitar tucks in nicely behind my chair. But increasingly I'd enjoyed playing a piano accordion borrowed from time to time, and we wondered whether some sort of squeezebox could find its place. Our friends Roger and Mirjana have melodeons. They're great for portability and slot in well at folk sessions, but I concluded I'd probably get frustrated by some of their characteristics.

In the research we came across some Youtube videos of Hobgoblin's Birmingham manager, Mark, demonstrating various models. So that's where we ended up today, and over several hours Mark worked us through what might suit. Very useful – thanks, Mark! The outcome was the purchase of a second-hand 80-bass Weltmeister. Mark thinks it probably dates from the 70s, but it's been used very little and is in excellent condition. It has a lovely warm, gentle tone, quite different from the brightness/brashness of some of the others on display.

At the same time, my best beloved bought a DVD and book on playing the bodhran. So as we set out shortly for the Llangollen canal, we are clearly going to have to moor up for the night in very secluded spots! Put it down to the Ruby wedding celebrations.

Sunday 14 April 2013

40 and counting

14th April, 1973. Milford, Co Donegal. Brother NÂș 1 and I walked down the high street to the church, with the unintentional swagger that Highland dress engenders. A white Mercedes brought my best beloved from across the road, wearing the dress she'd made herself. Our pastor from Edinburgh came, and family and friends from all over, a quartet of which sang a special, unaccompanied version of Psalm 121. The sun shone, the bright daffodils carpetted the reception hotel's lawns, and a very good time was had by all.  As we left, my best beloved looked stunning in the ankle-length dress she'd got from a little shop in Morningside, and I suppose my flared purple cords were simply a sign of the times!

There's an article up on the BBC website about whether there's a secret to a happy marriage. No rules, says Adam Gopnik, but then confesses to a theory that it's "a steady, unchanging formula of lust, laughter and loyalty." Especially interesting are his comments on how that works out during the difficult times. So here's to the flourishing of all three!

And to the next 40.