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 ½Amp. 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 14 – More big locks

Before setting off I made a list of things I needed to do:

  1. Empty loo
  2. Fill water tank
  3. Fill diesel tank (to be on safe side I put my reserve 10l in)
  4. Get more gas (I swapped the bottles over a few days ago)
  5. Find launderette

I expected to find a marina where I could do all five. No such luck. Royal Leamington Spa has a boaty place, on the river Avon, not the canal. But Warwick has three. Delta Marine is a boatyard that does repairs and refits. They suggested Kate Boats about 100m along. It’s a hire boat place that graciously allowed me to empty the loo and fill up with water, but they run out of gas in bottles the size I need and they only keep diesel for the hire fleet, not for sale. So onto Saltisford Canal Centre which did have gas, but no diesel and would only let me use the launderette if I stayed over night.

So with enough fuel for now and everything else sorted I pressed on to the bottom of the Hatton Flight of 21 locks. There I stopped for an early lunch and did some hand-washing and the washing up I’d not done earlier to save water.

I made a start on the locks after lunch doing five of them accompanied by a narrowboat. I couldn’t keep up the pace though and they pressed on while I had a tea break. Then I did another five and stopped for the night.

I was starting to worry about the fuel, Seren has no gauge so I rely on a rough estimate of how big the tank is and the assumption I use 6-7l per day. So after dinner I found a petrol station on line and went for a walk. It wasn’t far but 10l of diesel in a steel can gets heavy after ½mile!

11 more locks first thing tomorrow, then a nice relaxing pound to Knowle.