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Close to the winding hole. That doesn’t really tell you much. There isn’t a lot here. As you can see, it’s faster than 73% of GB in terms of connection speed which makes life nice and quite with the advantage of the internet, TV and lot’s of solar. There’s not a lot around here. It’s […] The post Yelvertoft -> Winwick in the Fields appeared first on Michael...
Close to the winding hole. That doesn’t really tell you much. There isn’t a lot here.
As you can see, it’s faster than 73% of GB in terms of connection speed which makes life nice and quite with the advantage of the internet, TV and lot’s of solar.
It’s probably a five minute walk from the car, which is parked on the side of the road.
It’s eight miles or so to the shops and back.
Life is very quite.
The way I like it.
Three Bridges in a Mile
Perhaps the only thing this area is famous for is the way the canal is crossed by the same road three times within a mile.
Ashby st Ledgers, seat of the ‘gunpowder plot’ of 1605. I cycled through there yesterday on the way to Daventry. This is the manor house where the plot took shape. It was gifted by William the Conqueror around the dates of the Norman conquest to one of his subjects, Hugh de Grandmesnil. It’s a manor […] The post Extinction events in Ashby st Ledgers appeared first on Michael...
Ashby st Ledgers, seat of the ‘gunpowder plot’ of 1605.
I cycled through there yesterday on the way to Daventry.
This is the manor house where the plot took shape.
It was gifted by William the Conqueror around the dates of the Norman conquest to one of his subjects, Hugh de Grandmesnil.
It’s a manor house in a classical style.
The gunpowder plot was planned in the building you see straight ahead, the gatehouse, set back in privacy from the main house.
When the plot was uncovered, as the seat of a criminal event, it passed to the ownership of the crown and since has had various owners, including the pension fund of British Airways!
The rest of the village is picture postcard style, apart from this crop sprayer I noticed after inhaling noxious chemicals being blown through the hedge.
No wonder we have no wildlife in this country.
Mass extinction event
As you can see this guy is coating a grass field with chemicals, sanctioned by the UK’s largest landowner, Co-Op farms who own the fields and the land around Ashby st Ledgers.
The death and destruction of the UK bird and animal population, (insects in particular), is a crisis.
It’s a crisis that’s not being dealt with, or acknowledged.
I shared a facebook post on this the other day.
The broken capitalist system is sending the planet into an irreversible death spiral in the need for our constant insistence on ‘growth’.
The death is spreading.
In times to come…
Maybe a shared vision of the future like that that inspired the gunpowder plotters to do what they did isn’t there anymore. The unstoppable machine of capitalism will gobble all the resources and turn the planet to desert.
We’re cathartically drifting toward that future.
I suppose with the benevolent dictator model, there was always a chance we we’re going to aspire to a greater goal than the acquisition of more money and wordly goods.
I think that time has passed.
Step 1: Braunston to Watford Locks Two flights of locks. One of them staircase locks at Watford.The other Braunston Locks. One that I’ve done a few times now. Braunston Locks are very tiring. And I was kind of happy when I found that due to water shortages, the Watford flight closed at night when the […] The post Braunston -> Yelvertoft appeared first on Michael...
Step 1: Braunston to Watford Locks
Two flights of locks. One of them staircase locks at Watford.The other Braunston Locks. One that I’ve done a few times now.
Braunston Locks are very tiring. And I was kind of happy when I found that due to water shortages, the Watford flight closed at night when the volunteers went home.
Being staircase locks, only one boat can go through at a time. And the CRT like you to book ahead, (which I didn’t).
During the day, the CRT prefer to keep it manned. Previously, at night, they let the public traverse the locks as they wished. Due to water shortages, this practice stopped, and passing through the flight is only possible with the aid of the lock-keeper.
I woke up around eight, and got going just before nine. Entering the first lock at 8.50am. Luckily, they are good and fast and I made it through the whole flight in around an hour. Apart from my button getting stuck under the gates at the top lock, all went without event, and I set off on my way again.
Here’s a picture of the locks at Watford.
Step 2: Watford to Yelvertoft
Through Crick, which somehow has the reputation of being boater central.
Apart from 200 yards of visitor moorings, there isn’t really anything to recommend it to a live-aboard boater.
That 200 yards of mooring represents the only mooring you’ll do around the Crick area.
The rest of the bank is reclaimed and shallow and useless for mooring. That’s the same both sides of Crick.
To add to that mobile coverage is non-existant.
I think it’s just the show that people make the money on…. Otherwise. Not a lot to see….
Moved on, through the countryside to Yelvertoft, the next village down.
Here, the mobile coverage is very good, (once you come out of the village), there’s parking and a waterpoint and bins.
Yelvertoft village has a pub and post office, which I visited yesterday.
Grand Union Leicester Arm
The first things you going to notice are
- It’s single gauge; those ‘man locks’ that I’ve been dealing with for the past 18 months are a thing of the past. We’re back onto the tiddly locks here.
- It’s very shallow; you can notice the bow wave is high and the progress is slow. Accelerating beyond 2-3 miles per hour doesn’t speed the boat up, just wastes diesel.
- There ain’t many boats; At Braunston, you used to get 2/3 boats an hour passed on your average day. More on busy days. Boats passing each other alongside me etc. Here, I think I’ve seen less than 10 passing boats in the three days I’ve been here. Not a busy place.
The fishing looks good alongside these willow trees and I’ve got a few days off work until my next assignment comes through, so I think I’m going to kick back, relax and do some fishing and enjoy what remains of the summer.
Washing my curtains at the end of winter destroyed them.
I’m having to had some new ones made up, and unfortunately, I had to go into town and do some shopping for materials.
Also, I tore my jeans on the way through the locks. This is the second time this has happened. I’ve decided to buy some tracksuit pants, to prevent this happening in the future.
I visited Dunelm in Rugby,
and this place in Northampton https://www.the-millshop-online.co.uk/.
The stuff you see there on the poles was all £1 per metre.
Was pretty happy I made the journey down there, the range and price of fabrics, service, all much better than Dunelm.
What I was looking at in Dunelm for £75, I came away here for £34 and a free cushion. Yes, a free cushion! Can’t go wrong.
This stuff is quite thick in in a minimalist blue style I think will add an air of regality to the boat.
Also, had a wonder around the High Street in Northampton.
It’s remarkable how this has died off in the last few years. So many shops now closed.
I visited an two story arcade off the main shopping square to get through to the car-park, and so many of the units were vacant.
It seems that the consumerist dream of limitless spending and unbridled demand lies dead in these empty city centre ‘prime’ shopping units.
People do moor in-between, but there’s no road access, so it’s useless to me. Fairly picturesque and popular. Old Braunston At the moment, I’m at Braunston, ancient Bargee village. All things barge are here, chandlers x 3. Marina x 1. Canalside pubs x2. And some other shops and services connected to the trade. I was […] The post Flecknoe -> Braunston appeared first on Michael...
People do moor in-between, but there’s no road access, so it’s useless to me.
Fairly picturesque and popular.
At the moment, I’m at Braunston, ancient Bargee village.
All things barge are here, chandlers x 3. Marina x 1. Canalside pubs x2. And some other shops and services connected to the trade.
I was moored here for the winter on the Rugby arm.
This time I’m on Oxford arm.
There’s no piling and I’m moored up on pins but it’s a much better mooring for a number of reasons.
Not least because:
- The towpath isn’t overgrow. On the Rugby arm, the trees hang down and you have to crouch to pass them. This is for about 20-25 yards.
- The trees don’t overhang. They stand up straight, not grow up over my solar and cast shade over the boat.
- Parking is better. Not on the A45 which you have to cross daily.
- Quicker into town. Not by much, but a shorter walk into Braunston.
Views are better.
Got a better all over ambiance certainly compared to mooring on the Rugby arm, but also in toward the village. It’s nicer here because you’re out in the country.
Will have to turn Bonnie round in due course, as she’s pointing in the wrong direction.
Here’s a view down the path to the main road.
The toll-house is located here on the convergence of the canals.
It’s only accessible along this grassy track, which you need to walk down to get to the road.
Assaulted by boater
This guy’s been moored up near me since Flecknoe. I’ve said hello to him a few times.
The last time I saw him, I said something about his dog not savaging me, (it was only a very small dog).
He said something like, “in 2018? You’re not allowed those dogs anymore… It’s a strange world we’re living in”.
Last night, he was beating the bushes outside the boat when I went out to eat tea.
He brought up this dog comment that I made, probably about 3-4 days ago, and I knew the conversation was going to get weird. And it did. Suffice to say that the guy called me a jerk and came round to the side of my boat and asked me to step off. Which I did.
After some, (meaningless), discussion with the guy I told him I was going to take his picture because I found his behaviour threatening and abusive.
He was high on a mixture of drugs guessing by the pungent odour he was putting out.
At that point, he tried to hit me with the tyre and sack he’d been fishing out of the canal.
The guy’s obviously mad, and I told him so.
Makes me wonder how his gear came to be floating down the canal in the first place.
I’ve no doubt I’ll see him again.
This is a short guide to installing flexible solar panels to a narrowboat. Background I’ve lived on my boat for 2 years. When I first started, I was located in a Marina. Everything was laid on, showers, water, electrical hook-up. It reminded me of a high-rise flat for boats. After my boat was painted, I […] The post Fitting flexible solar panels to a narrowboat appeared first on Michael...
This is a short guide to installing flexible solar panels to a narrowboat.
I’ve lived on my boat for 2 years. When I first started, I was located in a Marina. Everything was laid on, showers, water, electrical hook-up.
It reminded me of a high-rise flat for boats. After my boat was painted, I took it up on a journey to the most Northern and Southern reaches of the UK canal system.
It was called Bonnie Journey, in the name of the boat. You can read about it here.
It included some cycling, which I had to postpone due to injury. Whilst I was waiting for my injuries to recover, I stationed myself on the Kennet and Avon.
Kennet and Avon
As visitors to this waterway will know. Kennet and Avon Marinas are few and far between.
You’re entirely ‘off the grid’. In the winter, this was a case of starting the engine.
As the sun began to shine, in the run up to spring, I began to think of the advantages of solar.
After my boat was fully painted, I decided that the next job to be done, was to fit some solar panels, and take advantage of the free energy!
I’m now in a position to do that.
Most people are going to find that this is the most lengthy part of the process.
Before you shell out large sums of money, you want to ensure you’re getting something which is fully compatible with your needs.
The first question you need to ask yourself before fitting solar is –
What are my needs?
Size: This is the physical size that you have available to be taken up by a set of solar panels.
Most of a narrowboat roof is potentially space for installing panels, but you need to look at how much of that you can spare or want to allocate for the use of the solar panels.
Type: Flexible or rigid. Of course, everyone has a view on this, rigid advocates will tell you that flexible are inefficient and break easily, are costly etc. The truth is, solar panel technology is changing very rapidly, and many of the stories you may hear about flexible panels being less efficient and a waste of money refer to panels that were manufactured years ago.
The choice should be yours and whichever type of solar panel is more suitable for your type of boat.
I chose flexible because as a solo boater, I spend a lot of time traversing the roof. Also, I preferred the look of them.
Output: Output is measured in watts. Before you buy anything, you need to have a clear idea about what your energy needs are going to be. There are many of these on the ‘net.
I used the Bimble one, purely because it has the functionality for different appliances on a 12volt system. Some of the others you might find if you do a search on Google are 240v. This is 12 volt solar, and we need a 12 volt solar calculator.
Also, it has suggestions specific to narrowboats, so, is more useful than other solar calculators I’ve used.
Cost: One of the main considerations is fitting your requirements to cost. Kits range from about £200-£2,000.
I’d always recommend buying the best solar system you can afford.
The main contributing factors to cost would be the panels themselves and the controller.
Rigid solar panels are cheaper than flexible panels, due to the evolving technology.
MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) is more expensive than PWM (Pulse Width Modulation ), but we’ll get into that later.
Continuous cruising vs leisure.
Leisure boaters are going to be running their engines on a fairly regular basis, usually daily to move around the place and operate the boat for that purpose. That’s going to charge the batteries up and provide power so long as you run for at least two hours per day.
For continuous cruising livaboards, this requirement is going to be greater. Ideally you want to be starting your boat as little as possible. Your panels may only be operating at 20% in the winter. Due to this greater requirement, you’re going to factor in a greater surplus. This will ensure a more constant supply.
The Bimble solar calculator has some suggestions for factoring in and allowing for the different weather conditions during the summer and winter.
Step by step guide to fitting solar panels
With my solar kit, I have the following items:
|145W Semi flexible Monocrystaline Solar Panels – Sunpower E20 cells – Stick down||2|
|30A 12v/24v MPPT charge Controller – New Model Tracer 3215BN||1|
|MT50 MPPT Display meter for New Tracer BN CN Charge Controllers 10a 20a 30a 40a||1|
|MC4 6mm Solar Cable 10 meter||1|
|BLACK CT1 Sealant & adhesive – Bonds everything, Works Underwater – 290ml||1|
|Cable Gland Entry box with 2 glands – Male Compression Glands||1|
|32A DC DIN Mount Breaker 125V MCB C curve||1|
|DIN mount rail 35mm 10cm long for DC or AC Breakers||1|
I’ve recorded a video.
Before I decided to install the panels myself, I watched a few of these to see what was involved.
This goes through the steps below toward a successful installation. Enjoy and share with your friends!
Step 1: Fit the MPPT controller
Your cables are going to run to and from this device.
1.1 Mount the controller: It needs to be fitted somewhere with a reasonable amount of ventilation, although I had mine sat on the floor when I was testing it and it didn’t seem to warm up at all. That was in 30° sunlight.
Under the stairs is at the rear, close to the engine room.
There is an existing fuse box here. The cables pass from here into the engine room.
It seemed like the logical place to put it, so I’ve located it under the steps along with the other electrical apparatus.
Not included in the package, is the battery wire. This takes the charge from your controller to the battery.
10mm² cross section cable is the recommended size for the 3215BN. I need 6m, from Midland Chandlers in Braunston.
1.2 Connect the batteries: Firstly to the fuse provided, (32A DC DIN Mount Breaker), then to the controller.
Turn the electrics off at the circuit breakers.
I ran a line from my busbars along and in through the existing hole in the cabin.
1.3 Connecting the fuse: If you have an existing rail, you can place the fuse on that. If not, Bimble provide a rail.
They recommend 150mm from the battery. None of my existing fuses are 150mm from the batteries, so I’ve put it in with them.
2. Drill the holes in the roof
Ready for the MC4 solar cable.
The cable I had supplied was 6mm². That meant the holes in the boat’s roof needed to be around 7-8 to fit comfortably.
Some people may be squeamish about drilling holes in their boat’s roof.
It’s not a job for the faint hearted. Ear plugs are recommended.
All in all, I think it took me nearly an hour to drill 2 small holes; that’s putting a lot of pressure on the drill and allowing it time to cool off, putting oil on the drill bit, wiping away the steel shavings and all the rest of it.
3. Set up remote meter (MT-50):
Once you’re happy that the positive and negative terminals are correctly fitted to the MPPT controller, (this is important because your unit will explode if you connect it wrong), you can turn it on and the display should light up, and in the case of the MT-50, give you some information about the battery.
I had to scroll through the settings and make some adjustments for the set-up on my boat.
I have 4 120ah Gel batteries. This is important as different types of batteries have different charging dynamics.
There’s a manual for the MT-50 Control Meter here.
4. Measure, cut, crimp and fit MC4 connectors to solar cable
Not a stage you want to get wrong. Measure twice, cut once as the saying goes.
You’re going to need this
Set of crimpers. The male and female have shielded contact pins that sit within the MC4 connectors.
Measure the cable from the gland to the solar panel. Ensuring that the cable is the correct length. You neither want excess cable, nor for it to be too short. Take into account the length of the pins, then cut.
Crimp your contacts and tighten your endcap.
Renogy have done a video about it Fitting MC4 Connectors which will show you the process in more detail.
The tightening of the endcap also has a tool. It looks like this.
If you’re careful, you can get away without using these. My MC4 connectors didn’t need much tightening, and were fairly easy to screw down manually.
5. Attach the panels to the roof
Like I said on the video. I let the panels sit for a couple of days before I attached them to the roof.
This ensured that I was happy with the entire set-up before sticking them down.
Sticking them down is a two man job.
Prior to placing them, I had the following check list.
- Position: Have the panels in the best position and have the position marked.
- Cables: Ensure all cables are of correct length.
- Clean: Make sure the roof is clean and adherent surfaces are free from anything that will prevent bonding.
Once that is done, I and my partner, applied the CT-1 which was supplied with the kit.
to the back of the panels. Gently lifted them placed them in the spots I had chosen.
We sat on the backs of the panels for about 2/3 minutes.
CT-1 is pretty strong bonding polymer. 2/3 Minutes was ample time and the panels bonded strongly.
To finish off
The cable needs some CONDUIT to case it in and neaten it up a little. But that’s a job for another day…
Websites that sell solar panels for narrowboats
Solar panel supplier
|Based in Staffordshire. LG rigid panels, offering installation as part of kits.|
|https://midsummerenergy.co.uk/||Midsummer Energy||Selection of flexible and rigid solar kits using Victron controllers.|
|https://www.bimblesolar.com/||Bimble Solar||Wide and comprehensive range of kits and accessories, guides and information ‘off grid’ solar systems.|
|http://www.photonicuniverse.com/||Photonic Universe||Selection of solar panel kits and accessories.|
|http://www.onboardsolar.co.uk/||Onboard solar||Fits ready made kits of various different sizes. All kits are rigid panels, and doesn’t fit panels from other suppliers.|
|https://sunworks.co.uk/||Sunworks||Lots of help and advice for off-grid solar seekers. Sunworks supply a range of panels and kits and a regularly updated blog.|
It’s amazing the power a little post on social media has… Imagine. My little problem with invoicing at Calcutt boats magically disappeared! Simply paid the bill and left. Social media and complaining I was discussing this with my respondents the other day. If you’ve got a grievance with a company these days, often the only […] The post Calcutt Boats -> Flecknoe appeared first on Michael...
It’s amazing the power a little post on social media has…
My little problem with invoicing at Calcutt boats magically disappeared! Simply paid the bill and left.
Social media and complaining
I was discussing this with my respondents the other day. If you’ve got a grievance with a company these days, often the only way to get someone to take notice of you is posting some nasty stuff about it and spamming it out on social media.
They no longer man the phones any more. You’ll be lucky to get a response by letter.
Working for people like Amazon, I know this to be true.
They will just ignore you till the cows come home. Nothing you can do.
Once you start blowing them up on social-media, it’s a different story, you get a response pretty quick.
Same with this Calcutt Boats thing. One day there’s a problem. Post it on social media and it disappears.
I’ve moved the boat a little further down. To Flecknoe.
This is out in the wilds.
The nearest real shops are Daventry, which is 5 miles away.
I don’t like that so much. I like to be able to drop in and get my bread and milk. That’s not possible here and is probably the reason I’m not going to continue my journey on the Oxford Canal.
It only gets more wild the more you travel down.
Nothing around for miles. Getting in your car for the daily necessities. It’s not practical. It’s not fun.
I’m going to head back over to Braunston and take it from there.
Fridge and Solar Panels
One of the reasons I took it to the marina was to have the fridge installed. Although they recommend you have it installed by a ‘professional electrician’, there was only two wires to connect, and I felt I was up to the challenge myself.
It’s a Shoreline RK113.
That means it’s 113L storage space. Shoreline are about the only company in the UK the produces their own range of 12v fridges.
I must say. Wasn’t too happy about the aftersales service from Shoreline.
No invoice. No order number. No confirmation from Shoreline themselves. Just a payment receipt from Worldpay.
I had to contact them twice, once to confirm they had actually received the order and the delivery date. Then again to confirm who the courier was and what time they would be arriving.
Things you’d be expecting as a matter of course for a £500 purchase.
The fridge itself
Seems pretty good.
It’s whirring a hell of a lot less than the old one. I’ve made a short video about it here.
Solar Panels I’ve yet to install. I’ve got to get the various pieces of kit. It’s a job with a definite method to get the job right. Steps if you like. I’d like to get it right first time, so I’m taking that one relatively slowly.
I think it’s a two man job.
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