Sunday, 4 January 2015

Maiden Voyage - Second Day

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Very retrospective post for Thursday 27th November.

Under way - I'm liking the colours, even if the paint is somewhat dulled.
We had concerns about managing the heating system, which currently relies on a circulation pump designed for a domestic installation, running on mains voltage.  For this to work, it was drawing power through a large inverter - a device that transforms the low voltage from the boats batteries into something able to power "mains" voltage equipment.  The indications were this inverter was drawing a significant amount from the batteries, and as yet we knew nothing about the condition of the batteries, or our ability to keep them adequately charged from the single alternator on the engine.  We didn't want at this stage to leave the circulating pump running all night, and compromise the batteries, so had elected to turn off the diesel fired boiler that relied on it.  The end result, (not unexpected), was that the boat was very cold in the morning - really very cold indeed!

The front is ballasted enough to look less "menacing" than an unconverted "Town".
Attempts to relight the diesel fired boiler, (which the vendor had demonstrated to me), resulted in some "blow backs" of flame, which I didn't pay a lot of attention to at the time, but took more note of when Cath pointed out both my eyebrows and beard were severely singed!  Abandoning the diesel stove for the time being, we decided to rely instead on the large coal fired stove, (although this still needed the 240V pump to circulate water).  This, and sorting out some other issues, resulted in a much later than planned departure, but we were in no great rush, and it was important to start understanding better how things worked, and what issues we could face.  Particularly we didn't want to be without electrical power in the evenings, as we wanted to start investigating inside the boat, and measuring it up to prepare some plans from.

Bottom locks at Hillmorton
Before too long, we were working our first locks, the twinned narrow locks at Hillmorton - these are a nice gentle introduction with a new boat, but even though I thought I entered the first  very cautiously, I needed most of my reserves of engine power to not hit the cill at the far end.  This boat takes a lot of stopping - far more than I was expecting.  We passed smoothly up the three locks - sometimes there are low pounds here, but thankfully not so today.  We normally pass my late brother Peter's former butty "Angel" in the flight, and today was no different - there is always a tinge of sadness, but it looks well cared for.

Odin doesn't seem phased that he has yet another "home".
We had decided we would try to arrange to meet a friend for lunch shortly afterwards, and were able to arrange this.  Odin was very pleased, as this was one of his very special friends!  A visit to a chandlery was not particularly successful.  I had hoped to buy some LED based lights - Flamingo was reliant largely on mains lighting, (needing that inverter again), and some very inefficient 12 volt lights which were basically naked "bus" bulbs.  However the chandlery seemed to have little enthusiasm for answering questions about what they sold, so no LED lights were bought.  I was also not impressed however when said chandlers informed me that the price on a very basic chimney I had picked up was incorrect, and it would actually cost a tidy few quid more - with hindsight I wish I had told them to keep it, as the quality is very poor for the price charged.

Passing "Angel" that belonged to my late brother Peter.
Like getting started in the morning, lunch also took longer than expected, and by the time we got going again, with the days drawing in very rapidly, I was not convinced we would make our target of Braunston before darkness.  However I enjoyed learning how to deal with this full length boat around some of the curvy bits of the Northern Oxford that didn't get taken out by later improvements, and was feeling a lot more confident - oh, except if it involved stopping - stopping was taking a long while, sometimes, and I tried to avoid any situations where I might need to do it in a hurry!

Middle pair of Hillmorton Locks - going well!
We did make Braunston in the light, but only just, and had decided we would stop as soon as a space presented itself, so didn't get as far as the junction at Braunston Turn, instead mooring up whilst still on the Northern Oxford.  The towpath was soggy, and the condition poor, and the inadequate mooring stakes we had not doing a great job.  I think they might have pulled out had there been a likelihood of boats passing, but hardly any boats seemed to be moving at all.

As a final gesture, I thought I would make sure the tunnel light was working, as we would need it tomorrow.  I had checked with the vendor that it was functional, but when I threw the switch, nothing happened.  It was too dark now to investigate, but clearly we would not be away promptly tomorrow either.

Rugby to Braunston
Miles: 9.8, Locks:3
Total Miles: 13.3, Locks:3

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