Tuesday, 3 May 2016

On the move again at last: now on the South Oxford

Having spent a week in Braunston it was time to move on. We're now aiming for Oxford. After watering up and emptying a couple of loo cassettes we headed for Braunston Turn ... but Braunston wasn't letting us go quite so easily. Just past the Boatman pub was No Problem tied up, with plenty of space in front. I stopped and invited Sue on board for a coffee. It was good to have a decent chat with her - Vic came on for a while too. As we were talking Moore to Life came and tied up behind us, then so did Seyella. We have met Chas and Ann only once, and have not met the crew of Seyella (Geoff and Mags) at all.

After a salad lunch we finally set off, just as it started to rain! The rain didn't last long and we cruised along the Oxford/GU towards a bright sun making the water sparkle.

On this five mile stretch we saw only our second batch of ducklings.

Carrying straight on at Wigram's Turn we were now on a waterway we haven't been on for a few years (we can't remember how long).

We managed to squeeze in to a gap in the moored boats just below Napton Bottom Lock when a boater kindly moved his boat a little to make room. There are lots of boats on the 48hr moorings - will there be queues at the locks?

Jan cooked up a lovely roast gammon meal, then we went for a walk up the locks. Back at the moorings below the locks the sun was setting over the canal.

The weather is improving: we had hardly any rain today and the sun shone for most of the day. We still have the cold wind, though ...

Oh, you will, of course, want to know how the alternator performed. Well ... there's not really much detectable difference between the new way of wiring it up compared with how it was immediately before. Which is a bit disappointing. And, until I get a relay, I have to open the electrics cupboard door and switch "on" and "off" the alternator manually every time I run the engine. I suspect another major issue is the batteries themselves. Although they are only a year old, they probably haven't been kept as fully charged as they should have been, so they now do not hold their charge. Why do I think this? The battery voltage has dropped to 12.1V off load after the engine has been off for five hours. When the engine is running the battery voltage goes almost immediately to 14.4V and soon after to 14.7V, with the charging current dropping to a few amps, then to zero. Perhaps the electrolyte has been "boiled off" - but I can't top up as the batteries are "sealed". Hmm.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Alternator now wired up correctly (I hope!)

We had a visit from two fellow BCF members, Peter and Maureen, this afternoon. They had responded to a message Jan had put out saying that we were in Braunston should anyone want to come for a cup of tea. It was lovely to make their acquaintance, and even lovelier that Peter should turn out to be an electrical engineer who has managed a hire fleet in the past. He was keen to help me with our domestic alternator so, while Jan got some (eating) tea ready, Peter and I set about rewiring the connections to the domestic alternator.

As a bit of background, the original alternator had burnt out; the new replacement seemed to produce no output; the Sterling ABC was cut out of the system and the alternator small connections fed from the starter battery. With this setup the alternator produced charging current for the domestic batteries but this quickly dropped to nothing as the starter battery charged.

Peter and I examined the old relay that I had and discovered that the contacts were burnt away. That was no good so, in the absence of a relay, we wired up a switch as a temporary measure. On firing up the engine it all seemed to work. The alternator put out 100+A initially; this fell over the course of a few minutes to 50A. After 20 minutes the batteries were taking 32A, but the 8pm deadline had arrived and so I switched off.

Until the relay is installed I will have to remember to switch on the switch before starting the engine and switch it off when stopping. The AUX warning lamp will remind me if I forget (as long as I see it); if I do forget then current will flow back into the alternator and I run the risk of damaging it.

Tomorrow we will finally move away from Braunston and the engine will get a good run. I am hoping that, finally, the alternator will give the batteries a proper charge. We will see!

Before all this Jan and I helped with the dismantling of the marquee etc. This was all done by 1130, well before the rain came. It has been a very enjoyable weekend.

Oh, another thing I did was to pump more water out of the cabin bilge, this time from next to the shower sump. I still don't know where the water is coming from, nor if it is still from the original leak. We inspected the water pump: still dry. So it cannot be that. I managed to tighten slightly the Jubilee clip securing the hose to the sump outlet - will this make any difference? The boat's list seems to have reduced from two weeks ago, so perhaps no more water is getting in to the bilge.

The photo shows the pump I bought from eBay (£11.25 inc postage). I got a large washing up bowlful out with the pump, then another quarter bowlful using a sponge. Water still appears when we walk around the boat - I hope it all goes away soon!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A winning streak

We went to Braunston Church this morning. The vicar, Sarah Brown, gave a good sermon on the healing of the disabled man at the pool of Bethesda and drew a distinction between being healed and being cured.

Returning to the boat we had a quick lunch before I joined another guided walk. Jan stayed on board to wait for a visit from BCF members John and Sylvia who live in Daventry.

John Pomfret led the walk, which started by looking at the remains of the original course of the Oxford Canal. In the photo below it is visible as the dark line in the middle running left to right across the field.

That's John wearing the rectangular badge.

In the background, top left, is the combined turnover and accommodation bridge on the "new" bit of the Oxford Canal (Bridge 95).

Having been at church we missed the main auction, but Mick Butler had a few leftovers from the bric-a-brac and tombola stalls to auction off.

Jan was very pleased that I made no bids.

A fish/chicken and chips supper was followed by a quiz, where our table came about half-way. Next we had the results of the other quizzes, those which we had received in our boater's pack and which we had had the whole weekend to work on. We were very surprised to have won, and received a box of chocolates. And then the result of the treasure hunt, which had been mostly around the village of Braunston. We enjoyed doing this, and somehow managed to win this too! Another box of chocolates for Jan!

It has been an excellent little gathering, where we have got to know a few people we didn't know before. Lots of money has been raised for the IWA Northampton Branch and for the local Air Ambulance. (I must visit a cash machine very soon.)

Tomorrow we'll be dismantling the marquee etc. and loading it all back into Sculptor at 0900; when that's done we shall be free to continue cruising. Braunston has been very pleasant, but it will be good to get under way again.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Drayton Reservoir; raffle success

One of the organised events on this IWA Northants Branch weekend at Braunston was a guided walk over the top of Braunston Tunnel. I went on this, and was glad of my full waterproofs. Near the highest point of the hill we turned south to look at Drayton Reservoir in Daventry, somewhere I'd not visited before.

We then followed the outflow feeder to the canal at the eastern portal of the tunnel before walking back over the top to our start point.

I walked briskly back to the main marquee where I caught nearly all of a talk by John Pomfret on the history of canals with particular reference to Braunston; I also attended a talk by Tim Coghlan on the history of Braunston Marina.

In the evening we both went to the entertainment (a live duo) and took part in a raffle. One of my tickets was the third to be drawn, and I claimed what I had already marked down as the top prize: a £50 voucher for Whilton Chandlery. That makes up for our lack of success at the beetle drive and the bingo yesterday!

Later, people got into the spirit of things (or were volunteered to do so).

There's one more day of events tomorrow, then I shall be helping to dismantle on Monday.

Helping at a Boat Gathering at Braunston

At 0900 I walked over to where I assumed the marquee etc. would be put up but there was no sign of anyone. I saw an organiser on his boat, and he said there was no rush. So I went back to Jubilee and had another cup of tea.

When I returned at about 1030 things did get very busy. I helped with the erection of four gazebos and the main marquee. At 1330 I realised I was hungry and went back to the boat, where I cooked up a fry-up of Braunston black pepper sausages, bacon, eggs, baked beans and fried bread. Ally and Josiah had arrived; I cooked Ally a similar meal. Jan was holding Josiah all this time.

After lunch there was more to do at the main site; everything was finished with a quarter of an hour to go.

Cepheus arrived; I photographed it through the iron bridge at the entrance to Braunston Marina.

Ally stayed for the opening of the IWA Northampton branch Boat Gathering and partook of the barbecue as we all did.

Here is the team behind said barbecue.

After Ally and Josiah left Jan and I stayed in the marquee to take part in a Beetle Drive (free), then bingo (for very small stakes). I came close to winning a bottle of wine in the Beetle Drive but we won nothing on the bingo. It was good to talk to lots of people, including BCF members Alan and Glenda whose boat Tranquility is in the marina here.

There are to be many more activities over the weekend including guided walks, talks and a treasure hunt.

Meanwhile Jan tells me that her Facebook has revealed that James and Amy of Willow have got engaged, so felicitations to them.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Mini mayhem at Braunston and visitors from home

I spent some of the morning wiring up a relay to enable the domestic alternator to sense the domestic batteries rather than the starter battery. Unfortunately, after I'd connected it all up, I discovered that although the contacts make a clunk when the coil is energised, they don't seem to pass any current. Oops. Now I had to unwire it again.

While I was doing all this Herbie went by. (Note the oncoming boat, James No 194, passing the Gongoozlers' Rest.)

So far, so Braunston. But why the horrified faces on Melaleuca, following?

Simon puts the brakes on ...

... as James No 194, having turned into the marina entrance, reverses back out in Melaleuca's path. To add to the interest nb Alexander was aground on the offside and trying to get off. All good fun.

This afternoon, after a message from friends Ian and Liz from home who happened to be in the vicinity, we met up with them at the boat.

It was an unexpected visit, and all the better for that. We all ate in the Boathouse before going our separate ways. It was good to see you; any other readers from home take note that we're always open for visitors.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Still piling on the coal ...

We had more weather today. Quite a lot of it. Mostly sunshine, sleet and rain, with possibly a bit of snow thrown in. It was more cold than warm - a lot more cold than warm - but it was nice when the sun shone. Our stove hasn't been out for days; we've already used up the bag of coal we bought as an "emergency spare". Fortunately Union Canal Carriers sells Supertherm so we have another full bag in the well deck.

When I opened the curtains this morning I was surprised to see this duck on the "wrong" side.

On our way to the post office (our forwarded post had come) we invited Lisa and Dave (What a Lark) for coffee on our return. It was good to have a long chat with them.

Then we had to move off our 48hr mooring, so we watered up outside the Stop House, then paused briefly at the Elsan point before tying up outside the Boathouse.

At the water point this lovely old clinker-built boat came past, turned in the marina entrance and went back the way it had come.

By the Boathouse we waved as No Problem went by heading north.

We had seen posters advertising a boat gathering at Braunston organised by the IWA Northampton Branch and decided we'd stay for it. I contacted the relevant people, got ourselves booked in and volunteered our services. Having done that we used Braunston Turn to cause Jubilee to face the opposite direction by means of forward and reverse gears, then cruised to a reserved mooring near the marina entrance. We spoke to Jill (Gill?) and Ian (Iain?) on Drifter in front of us, and put up our BCF banner and some bunting.

On Friday we shall be helping with marquee/tents erection and possibly helping behind the bar over the weekend.

We walked up a couple of locks to find Herbie with Milly M tied alongside and Melaleuca in front, so we called in to say hello to Kath and Neil, Simon and Anne and Maffi (again). They were just about to eat, so we walked back to the Boathouse where we enjoyed a carvery.

The evening sunshine lit up a couple of scenes for my camera.

As we walked past the church a couple of locals pointed out the peregrine falcons half way up the steeple, one enjoying a meal of freshly caught bird.

The light was fading - this was the best I could do:

So we're going to be in Braunston for another few days. There are worse places to be.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The weather to stay put in Braunston

I took only one photo today, and it's a hurried one of hail on the towpath outside our boat.

We walked to the Post Office to see if our postal votes had arrived, which they hadn't. We bought bacon and sausages in the butcher's and walked back to the boat. In the afternoon I cycled up the hill to Daventry to get some shopping in Aldi. I was looking forward to an easy whizz downhill back to Braunston, but I had to pedal against the wind. I made it back just before the cold rain arrived.

We ate a "Two for One" at the Boathouse pub and felt sorry for singletons confronted with inflated prices.