It's very quick to buy a new set of leisure batteries. It takes a lot longer to wire them all up!
After much consideration I plumped for four sealed lead acid batteries from Wharf House chandlery at Braunston Bottom Lock. First we winded in the main entrance to Braunston Marina, then tied up alongside a boat being fitted out outside the chandlers.
I suppose I could have just lugged the new batteries on board, and then swapped them for the old ones at my leisure, but I wanted to get it done straight away. I therefore spent the next hour not shorting anything out (but getting slightly alarmed at the beefy spark when I connected one of the cables to the right place!) It's a good job I was still at the chandlers, as I discovered that the threaded posts (next to the conventional posts requiring a clamp) were of a different pitch to the threaded posts on the clamp fittings. I got about half way through explaining what the problem was when Mrs Wharf House handed me four bags of nuts and washers. Apparently they are supplied with the batteries but not everyone wants them - well, I did!
At last everything was connected up. I changed the DIP switch setting for battery type on the Sterling alternator controller; I also changed the setting on the solar panel controller. I don't want the sealed lead acid batteries charging at more than 14.1V. Turning the battery isolator key I was relieved to see that the lights on the 12V distribution panel came on. Everything seems to be OK.
I reversed to the first marina entrance and winded; then we cracked on to Hillmorton and beyond (after a brief stop for water at the Stop House). Earlier, as we'd gone the other way to the chandlers, I'd spotted Steve and Maggie's boat Albert just back from where we were. When I'd finished the battery installation Albert had gone; but we passed them again at the bottom of Hillmorton Locks. I called out a quick "hello" and ascertained that we were both heading for approximately the same place this evening.
The next incident of note occurred at Newbold. As we approached Bridge 50 we became aware of a very loud engine noise. Much louder than a boat. And then we saw it: just taking off was an air ambulance.
45 minutes before Stretton Stop I saw Albert tied up, so I pulled in behind. Steve and Maggie invited us on board for a glass of wine (that slipped down a treat - thanks!) and a chat. We had not knowingly met before. We had, in fact, unknowingly met the previous evening as we walked down to Butcher's Bridge: Steve was taking a photo of the dramatic sky and we exchanged a few words. It was good to meet you two, and thanks for inviting us on your lovely boat (and for showing me the wonderful engine!)
Bearing in mind the weather forecast for tomorrow - more wind and rain - we pulled pins and headed for Stretton Stop, tying up in the almost dark about half a mile beyond*. We have a lunch date with friends in Bedworth; it would be nice to get there not too dripping wet.
Back to the batteries again: Martin left a couple of comments on yesterday's post with links to the excellent SmartGauge site. What I found particularly useful was the best way to connect four leisure batteries I have seen. Tomorrow I must slightly rewire what took me so long to do this morning! (My method was close, but can be improved upon.)
* I'm not sure we'll get much sleep tonight. There is a ledge below water level against which the hull is being constantly thrown by the wind. Oh, and there's a busy railway line on the offside. I don't mind the trains, but I know from past experience that being jolted every few seconds is not conducive to eight hours of shut-eye.
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