Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Maiden Voyage - Third Day

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Very retrospective post for Friday 28th November.

The day started with the story of the tunnel lamp, but how to tell it?  Yesterday we had briefly passed through the short Newbold tunnel - so short I would not normally have bothered with the tunnel lamp.  However, as it was a gloomy day, I had reached down for the switch, and it had seemed to turn the light on, so I didn't think much more about it.  Last night I knew we would pass through Braunston tunnel today, where it was definitely required, and I wanted to check it, and its alignment, but I threw the switch several times and nothing happened - the first problem to look at today then.

"Nelson" Lock, Braunston
There is absolutely no chance of following cables, so I had to hope the problem was the light itself, or the switch.  It was a freezing cold morning when I clambered onto the front deck, and started pulling things apart, (and they were sufficiently bodged together, that taking them apart was a pain).  The bad news was that the bulb was OK, but that no 12 volts was making it down the wires that supplied it.  However, in the boatman's cabin on what I thought was the switched that had turned it on yesterday, the full 12 volts was present.  There was only at least 70 feet of well hidden cable between the two then that could be the problem.  I had no alternate lamp self powered lamp, and actually seriously considered "borrowing" a battery from the bank in the engine room, and standing it on the front deck to supply the lamp directly, but this made no sense - I was sure it had worked yesterday.

Cath was feeling quite unwell that morning, and had stayed in the warm and not got involved, other that having me come in cursing from time to time to try and warm up.  I really didn't understand how the lamp could have worked, but not now, so said to Cath "it is almost like there is a second switch or fuse that I don't know about".  "What about this switch in the corner at the back of the main cabin?", she suggested, "I think he said that works the tunnel light, so I switched it yesterday as we were approaching Newbold".  Yes, that's right, you couldn't make it up, could you?  Yesterday when I had thrown a switch that I believed was the one for the tunnel light, Cath must have been throwing the one that was actually for the tunnel light!  We tried it, and the lamp, (still hanging on its cables, and not yet"bodged" back on), lit up perfectly - the switch I had been switching made no difference, and it stayed on - that switch had nothing to do with the tunnel light!

This shot gives some impression of an unconverted boat!
All the above had used up at least 2 hours I think - I hope I managed to laugh it off at the time - at least it makes a good anecdote now.  Finally we got going, but had decided we were low on solid fuel, so stopped near the marina to buy some.  Foolishly I had thought I could carry a 25Kg bag the considerable distance the boat was by foot from the marina shop - in practice I would really have struggled, and I was grateful for the loan of a wheelbarrow.  Next we walked a full toilet cassette back to the Elsan disposal point, and found this had been blocked up, and was out of order.  Flamingo had come with no spare cassette, so this was more unwelcome news.  However, all credit, we walked it around the long walk to the private marina, and they allowed us to use their facility.

Still not quite ready to finally start ascending the locks, we stopped for the chandlery at the foot of them.  There I was able to purchase 2 small 12 volt LED lights - not large enough to be main cabin lighting, but sufficient to replace two of the horrible "bus" bulbs we had that were using a fair bit of power, and casting very little light.

I can't remember too much about our passage through our first flight of broad locks with Flamingo, so assume it went well.  we were taking some pictures, and that is usually a sign we are progressing OK.  I remain surprised quite how much it takes to stop the boat, and suspect that things are not quite right in that department - I erred on the side of caution though, and there were no bumps.

The tunnel was passed smoothly - being a full length boat, Flamingo holds its course far easier than Sickle, a boat that has had over 30 feet cut out of it, and is actually far more intolerant of and lapse in concentration.

I know how long it is, but still surprised by pictures like this.
Despite reasonable progress once we had completed all tasks in Braunston, we had not started to go up the locks there until well after noon, and by the time we arrived at the head of the next lock flight at Long Buckby it was nearly 3:00 pm.  Even if things go well, Buckby can take a while, and we could not now get down to the bottom before the light had gone.  So we elected to go down just one lock, and tackle the rest of the flight the next day.

We were become increasingly suspicious that we were using electrical power faster than our single alternator was generating it, and general dully or flickering of lights when water pumps were run was increasingly confirming a problem.  We had some contigency in terms of battery lighting - my bigger concern was that if we lost the inverter that produced mains voltages from the batteries, then we would lose the pump that circulates the water from the boiler into the radiator circuit.  I wasn't confident if this happened that the solid fuel stove would not then boil the water, so was really more concerned about potential loss of heating than lighting, as it was again most cold!

At least I could now install the LED lights I had just purchased at a couple of temporary locations, and minimise battery consumption a little bit.

Braunston to Buckby Locks
Miles: 5.1, Locks: 7
Total Miles: 18.4, Locks: 10

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