Day 25 – Chirk Marina

The last time I didn’t move Seren was at Wellingborough when the rain was pouring and the river Nene in flood. Today there is brilliant sunshine and I’m stationary. My ‘wing man’ Phil Robinson is coming tomorrow to help with the narrow sections on the final stretch into Llangollen but today is a rest day. And a cleaning, washing, greasing, emptying, watering day but that’s not very blog-worthy.

As a break from all the chores I’ve been investigating and number crunching some technical issues on Seren.

First, the leisure battery/inverter/fridge problem. I realised days ago the fridge was killing the battery in the evening, the fridge itself stopped working the lights dimmed especially when using water (electric pump). So for a while I’ve been in the habit of turning the inverter off in the evening, it’s been so cold at night the fridge hasn’t really got that warm anyway. Then after a few minutes of engine time in the morning putting it back on.

Today is unique in two respects, it’s sunny and I haven’t started the engine. Early morning the volt meter showed 11.7V, lights etc fine but fridge still off. Waited until the solar panel had pushed that up to 12V then switched the inverter on, but left the fridge off. Voltage dropped to 11.9 but soon recovered, current consumption by un-loaded inverter is about ┬ŻAmp. Voltage continued to climb, not only is it sunny, I washed the solar panel too! At 12.3V I switched the fridge on. Three hours later the battery indicator shows full, the fridge is working fine.

I think the issue is the weather. On the last big trip it was sunny into the late evening so even when the engine was off the battery was topped up until sunset then held enough charge to last the night, especially as the sun was up again a few hours later. Most of this trip it has been gloomy all day so probably very little boost from the solar panel and the battery has started to discharge as soon as I stopped the engine in the afternoon/evening. Need to do proper bench tests when I get home.

Then there’s the fuel consumption. I’ve dates, quantities and type of waterway and find that:

From Buckden to New Mills (Mostly river some canalised in the fens) Seren used about 4.8l per day (about 2l less than last year).

From New Mills to Whitchurch (mostly canal) she used about 3l per day.

The reduction on canals is probably due to two factors; the speed limit is lower so Seren trundles along at about 1600rpm rather than 2250rpm on rivers. That doesn’t seem like a lot of difference but at river speed she is pushing up a bow wave and trailing a wake, both mostly absent on the canals. And secondly on long lock flights I often leave the engine off for hours and haul her in and out of locks.

Day 24 – Fun with Hirers

I arranged to meet friends, Jude and Di, in St Martins so before I set off at 8.20 I sent them a text saying I’d be there in ‘approx 2 hours’. Not a chance. I quickly found myself in a procession of slow-moving hire boats and we crept towards the remaining two locks (out of 230) of the trip. Of course there was a queue when we got there, and the first boat too an age to fill the lock because they hadn’t closed one of the paddles fully. One group got their boat sideways across the canal and a Canadian(?) man was trying to pull his boat into the bank with the centre rope while his other half revved the engine and shoved the tiller the wrong way.

Rather than meeting Jude and Di for 11ses it turned out to a lunch date. They’d already eaten so I grabbed a sandwich while we chatted then Di went home and Jude and I carried on past a lot of landmarks I remember, over Chirk aquaduct, through Chirk Tunnel and on to Chirk Marina. Di took Jude home, leaving me with a delicious lasagna for dinner and a gooseberry fool made with berries from their allotment . I’m staying here a couple of nights.

I need a rest and Seren needs some cleaning and maintenance. On Friday morning Phil Robinson, editor of www.llanblogger.co.uk, is coming to join me fr the final run into Llangollen. There are several narrow twisty sections where you really need to send a crew member on in front to check no-one’s coming the other way. He will be that crewman, in return for passage over the Poncysyllte Aquaduct.