Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Curse of the Dragon on St Patricks Day

Monday 12th March to Monday 19th March 2012
2 Miles, 2 Locks  – for the week

Totals:  1034 Miles,  856 Locks, 28 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 20 Swing Bridges

The focus of the week for a few of us was the imminent finishing of seats onto the backdeck.

In addition to ourselves, Andy and Jean (nb Josephine) were waiting for Jon to get back to us to be able to have these installed. They were also in a position that they wanted to get some cruising done before they needed to be back to sort out things outside the boating arena.

We needed to get them done as my return to Australia was looming large on the horizon and this would be the last weekend before my flight.

As with any plans there were last minutes glitches – we had assumed, very much incorrectly, that we would be able to get this work done within the marina itself, but this was not to be as the necessary insurance information was not available from Jon – next plan was to take all three boats up to Stone and do the work from the towpath.

So on the Friday there was a mini-exodus of craft to the 5 day moorings below the bottom lock.

As this might be the last time that we were altogether – Janet and Howard (nb Compass Rose) were moving marinas – we booked in for a meal at The Star – also joining us were Stella and Mike (nb Isobel).

And a mighty enjoyable night it was.

Jon was very early arriving the following morning – Saturday – and after we unloaded his gear, we set up for the first installation. We were to work off the 240V from the boats (engines on and creating enough to run the welder)

All was going quite well until there was a sudden loss of all electrics from the inverter on our boat – half the job for our seats was done.

Fortunately, the local scouts group were in their hall, with the band practising – they agreed to give us access to the power for a donation to their group.

Power back on and because of the positioning of the boats, Jon got to work on Josephine.

In the meantime, we needed to find the source of the problem on our boat – all we had was 12V power.

I removed the inverter to see if there was anything there that might show the cause, but nothing could be found.

We have been continually amazed at the willingness of others to help and now we were again fortunate to have an electrician on the boat moored behind us – my memory tells me his name was Clim and I cannot remember the name of the boat.

Anyway, he could overhear our problems and offered his help – there apparently should be a flat fuse between the batteries and the inverter and this may the problem.

Removing seat covers and other things he eventually located the fuse and as usual it was placed in the least accessible location – he was however able to confirm from the meter that it was dead – all we needed to do was replace it.

We were thinking and hoping that the most difficult part would be hoping that the chandlery would have a replacement, but removing it proved to be more fun than a pair of thumb screws.

One of the battery leads needed to be removed – at least disconnected from the batteries to make it safe, but working left-handed down a small space and not being able to see what you were doing revived memories of working on the engine of my Morris mini too many years ago to count.

Clim was right in one thing – by doing it myself it meant that I learnt more and would know for next time.

Fuse removed and there was no visible sign that there was anything wrong with it – just the confirmation from the prongs on the meter that it was not letting anything through.

A 10 minute walk to the chandlery and the reply “Oh we sold the last one of those yesterday” was the next part of the day that had turned from good to worse and then back to good and now was heading back into the red again.

“We don’t have a 250A fuse but there is a 300A one – if you want that one” – back to better again; “We have more coming in on Tuesday”; knowing that we only needed to get back to the marina and the landline power and we were not expecting to put a high load on the inverter, I replaced the 250A fuse with a 300A one.

Resinatalled the fuse; reconnected the power leads; reconnected the inverter and bolted it back into place – throw the switch – Yes – 240V power again.

Just as well, because “she-who-must-be-obeyed” was expecting to be able to watch her Welsh dragons defeat the French and win the Grand Slam.

By this stage all of the work on Josephine was practically finished and Andy and Jean were preparing to leave us and start there delayed cruising – which made space for us to move down and finish the job on Ferndale.

Everton v Sunderland was on the telly as well as the highlight of the Melbourne Grand Prix practice and the Scotland v Italy match -  Jon was an Everton supporter, Stella liked the Grand Prix and Diane just likes sport, so we set the TV up outside the boat, chairs just on the towpath; table with drinks and doughnuts as well as crisps and there were the two girls sitting, chatting, drinking, snacking and discussing the state of play of each sport with passers-by; flicking back the Everton game whenever Jon had a short break.

The up-and-down-and-up-again day was most definitely at a peak again – this was turning out to be a good day again – so much so that the girls had reconfirmed our plans for the evening – a few drinks at The Swan to celebrate St Patricks Day – Andy and Jean were coming down from the marina as well.

It wasn’t that long before the Wales game kickoff that Ferndale was completed and we moved her out of the way so that Compass Rose could started and completed.

We had been rather lucky with the weather – rain had been forecast – as Compass Rose was being finished the weather forecast became reality.

But we did get all of the boats finished; I got a coat of primer onto the steel; we got Jon reloaded back into his vehicle; the scouts were great and the donation duly made; four of us made it back onto Ferndale and Mike took great delight in trying to interrupt Diane’s view of the TV as Wales completed the Grand Slam.

From my point of view, best of all was the knowledge gained about the boat and the electrics – which would stand us in good stead for the following day.

With all of the drama during the day, a night at the pub was certainly to be enjoyed and we had a few there before the day finally caught up with us and we returned back for a good night’s sleep.

The following day we needed to get back to the marina for a pumpout and a diesel top up before I headed out; Diane also decided to get a load of washing done on the move.

We were also like excited schoolkids and wanted to tryout the new seats – they were wonderful and very comfortable, if not a bit cold on the bottom.
The new seats - primer and undercoat so far

Half-way back to the marina, Diane went to check on the washing only to come back with the advice that it had stopped and there was no power to it or from the inverter – oh bother, what was it now.

Once we were safely back, pumped out, refuelled, and moored up -magnificent reversing in very windy conditions (well a slight wind anyway) – we reattached the landline – no power.

Relief in one sense as I knew it wasn’t the bigger fuse that I had put in, and it wasn’t the inverter; it wasn’t the landline cable as the battery charger was working.

We called the electrician that comes to the marina, but being a Sunday we expected to at least to have to wait until the Monday – he happened to be in the area and was there in 10 minutes – result was that he felt there was a loose wire somewhere, but couldn’t fix it then, he would be back at 8:30 in the morning.

8:30 Monday morning and Clive was there; he spent a good half hour checking all of the electrical connections on the board and without knowing the culprit we had full power back again – it appeared to be just one of those things – there were some wires that were a little loose and just coincidental.

Of course the West Wing reference “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc” immediately came to mind

We had returned and despite everything else we had survived the weekend.

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