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Travels of Joanie M – Life as a Continuous Cruiser – Heading North
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Wednesday,28 August, 2013
7:23 am
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I haven’t posted for a while now so I’ll just precis where we’ve been otherwise it will take up too much of Pauls space.

We had to hang around a bit in Birmingham as we were due into the drydock at Hockley Port so we spent the time by going up to Brownhills where we were surprised to see several boats moored. After a few days there we went on round via Longwood Junction to Ocker Hill. There are two visitor mooring spaces here with electricity pillars but C&RT have changed them to the new ‘smart’ metered pillars to which visitors are denied access so presumably this nice new pillar will remain unused until C&RT change their minds. I have £19 of cards which are no longer usable but after several email exchanges with the Trust I no nearer finding out how we get a refund.

So, into the drydock. We always find it strange in a dock. The boat doesn’t move when you walk through and the noise of your footsteps sounds different. It was a very hot week, exacerbated by the sun beating through the poly-tunnel covering the dock. So three coats of blacking and a dent knocked out of the prop, the front lockers kurusted and painted out with Hammerite and the front well and deck repainted.

We left Birmingham by the back door, the Wolverhampton 21 being closed, through Merryhill to Stourbridge where we were awoken by the boat moored behind starting his engine at 11.45 pm. After a shouted exchange he switched it off and we were able to get back to sleep. Onto the Staffs & Worcs and up to Aldersley Junction stopping for a couple of days at a lovely offside mooring above Diningsdale Lock where we repainted the gunwhales. It was good fun sat at the junction watching the boats approaching from both directions all jockeying for position. So many of them just turn into the Shropshire Union without checking if anyone is coming the other way.

We made slow progress down the SU (slow because we only reckon on moving for 2 or 3 hours a day) taking advantage of the many mooring sites provided by the Shropshire Union Canal society. We spent a number of days at Market Drayton, a very nice town, where we had a wine delivery from Ocado and stocked up on filters for the engine and generator from the wholesaler there and some more time at Nantwich.

We are heading for Manchester and Liverpool but are meeting some friends on their shareboat on the Bank Holiday and then my sister and brother-in-law a few days later. Middlewich was very hard work with only one paddle working at each end of the top lock of the three. Consequently boats were coming up faster than they were going down so we had the stupid situation of too many boats waiting in the intermediate pounds and very low water. I received an email telling me a friend had died so we needed to hire a car to go to Southampton so Anderton was convenient for this.

Having returned the car we moved back out into the country to a favourite mooring only to find it full. We continued on the the winding hole and on our return one of the boats was just leaving so we moored. Our friends had phoned to say they were just leaving Middlewich at which point the boat in front left leaving a nice space for them. We were very late getting to bed that night with rather sore heads.

I spent the time moving my two small solar panels to the front of the roof. We had two 80w panels and two 45w panels wired in series and parallel into an MPPT controller. Unfortunately the controller would shut down at times and by a process of elimination I found it was the two small panels which don’t like being wired in series. So I moved them to the front and connected them through a conventional controller to charge the bowthruster battery. I have connected the TV socket to this so, in theory, we shan’t be discharging the main batteries as much. I have another 80w panel coming which I will wire in circuit with the others to give me three 80w.

These are flat panels which are designed to be stuck down which is fine on a fibreglass roof but I’m not sure that the paint wouldn’t lift so I’ve drilled and tapped the roof and bolted them down with security screws. I’m quite impressed with their performance although rigid ones that can be angled to the sun would be much better but we prefer the neater appearance.

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

Wednesday,28 August, 2013
7:35 am
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Southam, Warwickshire
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Don’t worry about taking up too much space Pete. There’s plenty of it, so use as much as you need. Do you take any photo’s as you’re traveling? One or two in each blog post would enhance your journey’s story no end.

With regard to the solar panels, I understand that although the panels fitted to the boat roof are neater, they aren’t as efficient as panels which allow air to circulate around them. I have to admit though that all other things being equal I would prefer the aesthetics offered by panels moulded to the shape of the roof. I take my life in my hands every time I walk along the roof past the solar panel brackets.

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Wednesday,28 August, 2013
10:32 am
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I do take photos but to post them means reducing them in size and I always find that a pain – I can never remember which program I have to use!

I try not to have to walk on the roof although there have been some locks where I need to get off and help Jeannette. However, you can walk on these panels if really wanted to.

The downside of moving the panels is that the paint under them hasn’t faded as much as the rest so Jeannette is repainting the roof. One thing leads to another so we decided to remove the mushroom vents to paint under them. That means more rust so more Kurusting! One of the vents is over the kitchen extractor fan so we now see how much grease is ion the blades, despite the filter, so I shall have to remove that soon and clean it.

Lovely spot thought. We have the River Weaver about a mile on one side and a lake a mile on the other. Every night hundreds of geese leave the lake and fly over to the river and in the morning they come back. The farmer was ploughing his field last night, by headlamps, and this morning a flock of lapwings flew in to feed. If we could just get the passing boats to slow down it would be quite idyllic.

 

Regards

Pete

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

Wednesday,11 September, 2013
5:38 pm
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Paul Smith said
Don’t worry about taking up too much space Pete. There’s plenty of it, so use as much as you need. Do you take any photo’s as you’re traveling? One or two in each blog post would enhance your journey’s story no end.

With regard to the solar panels, I understand that although the panels fitted to the boat roof are neater, they aren’t as efficient as panels which allow air to circulate around them. I have to admit though that all other things being equal I would prefer the aesthetics offered by panels moulded to the shape of the roof. I take my life in my hands every time I walk along the roof past the solar panel brackets.

Paul

Since you posted this I have been looking at boats as I pass by and, though I agree that solar panels are at there most efficient when pointed at the sun, the great majority of boaters don’t bother.

To do a proper survey I would have to make notes of every one. Life’s too short for that but most panels seem to be either laid flat, pointing in the wrong direction or have something like ropes or brooms laid over the top. Although I did see one boater on Sunday out at 7.30 am turning his to face the right way!

All solar panels are at risk of theft. We shared a lock a couple of years ago with a boat that had two rigid panels padlocked into steel brackets welded to the roof. One had been stolen, the thief forcing the padlocks whilst the owner was on board asleep. I can’t say ours couldn’t be stolen but I have made it as difficult as possible by using double side foam tape and security headed bolts. 

I’m collecting a third one on Saturday to give me 3 x 80w so that’s next week sorted, assuming it stops raining.

 

Regards

Pete

Living retirement in the slow lane.

20 years hiring, 6 years of shared ownership and a Continuous Cruiser since 2007 but still learning!

Wednesday,11 September, 2013
5:50 pm
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I agree that theft could be a problem and come the day when I can do as you do and spend all my time cruising I’ll have to think far more about security generally than I do now. I’m fortunate in that I’m more not only in a very secure marina, but my mooring is at the furthest point from any pedestrian or vehicular access. I also spend much of my day working very close to the boat. I’ve been here four years now and, to my knowledge, not one single boater has reported theft from their boat.

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Sunday,24 November, 2013
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