Tuesday 15 April 2014

12.6 and falling

My experiment to see just how much our battery bank loses overnight powering just the fridge via the inverter yielded a somewhat inconclusive result. I disconnected the mains lead, and the voltmeter showed 13.3 volts, dropping quickly to 13.2. That seemed OK for fully charged sealed batteries. After 8 hours the voltage was down to 12.6. I'd forgotten to disconnect the mobile broadband unit, but it probably takes relatively little.

Now some of the charts I've seen on the internet would suggest that a 0.6 volt drop overnight is an appreciable amount of the batteries' capacity, so I rang the Evesham battery people to ask them. Unfortunately, Steve Smith the boss, who's been very helpful in the past, is away till after Easter. Eventually I spoke with Curtis, who installed stuff for us last June and is a mine of information. He thought the voltage drop wasn't excessive. So we haven't taken the batteries to Evesham, and the timing means that we probably now won't, unless plans change and we cruise down there later in the year.

Well – I'm back to thinking about getting (a) a proper battery monitor, and (b) a solar panel. Everybody who has them says they are really worth it. I think the battery monitor is probably first on the list – some genuine data would be really nice. It's the uncertainty that taxes the emotions.

Monday 14 April 2014


41 years ago today we tied the knot. So we celebrated by exploring the wonders of the A446, M42, M40, A34, M3, M27…  And as for our anniversary lunch, it was a couple of splendid ham salad granary rolls made to order by Janey at the Spar in Great Haywood, washed down (the rolls, that it, not Janey) by an Americano and a Flat White at Cherwell Valley services. Wonderfully romantic! However, we did find time for a celebratory meal yesterday – venison casserole at the Hollybush Inn in Salt.

Tonight, having continued the celebrations by going through the post that had accumulated in our absence and paying on line for a new tax disc, it will be a magnificent stir fry by yours truly, with turkey breasts from the freezer, and not-too-out-of-date veggies that have either been to Great Haywood and back with us, or patiently awaited our return. It's amazing what a good stir-frying can do to slightly elderly veggies, especially with a pot of Puttanesca sauce and the addition of a handful of cashews and black olives.

But that classy and expensive restaurant along the coast will have to sit in ignorance of our tastes for yet another year.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Make do and mend

I'd left a rag under the union on the water pump that I reconnected last week, and it showed that there was some water escaping. Hardly a leak, more of a seep. So I acquired some PTFE tape, something I don't think I've had occasion to use personally for a couple of decades. PolyTetraFluoroEthylene, as I recall. Turn off the stop-cock, drain the pipes, undo the union, apply some tape, do it all up again, take it all off again to get rid of a kink I'd put in the flexible hose, apply more tape, do it all up more carefully, and turn on the stop-cock so we can have a restorative cuppa. It's amazing what can wear you out. Take photo, replace rag with a dry one so I can check for seepage in the morning.

Then it's on to the two window catches which had come unstuck. Some 5-minute Araldite saw this one back in place in the bathroom (time will tell how effectively it's now attached).

But the other was more complicated – the turner wouldn't turn.

Eventually I found that the two sides screw together and managed to unscrew them.

Inside everything was very sticky, for no apparent reason – the parts were meant to be separated by plastic washers, and I can't think why these should have deteriorated to an adhesive state – perhaps the previous owner had stuck them together for some reason. So next week we'll pay a visit to my favourite hardware shop in Christchurch and see whether they can be replaced.

Erin Mae's hardware is a funny mixture of stuff you can buy in B&Q, and things which appear to have been custom designed and made in Poland. Mending them seems to take you back to first principles – the ones used by all our friends back in Brazil in the 80s who could repair almost anything. But that's also the sort of thing at which my favourite hardware shop in Christchurch excels.

Friday 11 April 2014

April, come she will

Or rather, come we will. A winter's silence on the blog reflects several happy months at home in the New Forest, and Erin Mae's survival of the storms and floods. The marina has a webcam about 20 metres away from her, looking straight up our jetty, so we were able to check that those fearful winter winds were doing no damage.

Last week a quick overnight trip with the first of the gear for the new season, and the chance to do a good spring clean of the interior. This was the first time I'd de-winterised the boat myself, and it turned out to be a straightforward affair, with little more to do than re-connect the water-pump, re-connect the shower-head, re-attach the water filter and open a stop-cock or two. I think it means I'll do it all myself in reverse next winter – I suspect that most of the workshop-rate time I was paying for consisted of waiting for the water tank to drain.

Now we have a few days during which we're getting other things set up and will hopefully get the chance to do a little painting – that's the scary bit. Also, now that the batteries are fully charged, we want to see the effect on them overnight of running just the fridge, with the mains disconnected.

So – here we go again. This year's going to be completely different, but we're very much looking forward to the it all as the adventure resumes.