Kidderminster trip day 3
So much for me getting an extra long lie in after all those locks on Saturday, Eric was keen to get going in case there was a queue for the tunnel. But it was a lovely day and we were feeling adventurous so I didn’t mind.
Our first encounter was the stop lock at the bottom of the Macc that re-levelled us onto the Trent and Mersy canal. Stop locks were originally built by rival canal companies to stop the loss of water from one canal to the other.
The Harecastle tunnel is only a short distance after the junction and there was only one boat ahead of us, which meant we could go through together. I was very impressed by the ‘system’. There are tunnel keepers at either end and they come to speak to each boat individually to assess our abilities and give advice about safety etc. If we got into trouble we were to sound our horn every 30 seconds until we heard them respond however our horn isn’t loud enough so we were issued with a portable horn that we had to hand back at the other side. We also decided that this would be an apt occassion to wear our bouancy aids for the first time.
It was cold dark and drippy in the tunnel, it’s 1.6 miles long but following their advise not to go slowly, Eric put Firecrest through her paces and we got through in 30 minutes, not bad for tunnel newbies.
After the tunnel we sauntered through Etruria where there was a festival going on with hundreds of people but of course we handled the locks like old pros.
The urban jungle of Stoke assaulted our senses and we hurried on in search of greener pastures.
We ended the night in Stone sharing our mooring with a family of swans. Mum and Dad were very proud to show off their cygnets and take the porridge oats I threw for them.
Kidderminster Trip Day 2 – a technical perspective
We cruised for 9 hours and covered 13 miles, and lost 110 feet of altitude. I was particularly interested to see how the electric propulsion working through the lock flight at Bosley. 12 locks in the space of one mile.
I have to say it was lovely coming down the flight, no noise of engine or exhaust reverberating around the stone lock chambers, no diesel fumes to breath as I wait for the locks to empty, and able to hear Cheryl from the lock side. I think Cheryl would say it was B#### hard work – the locks gates weigh about a ton each but are surprisingly easy to move for their weigh. But some of the lock paddles are really hard work to wind up.
We travelled 13 miles and used 198AH (10.4KWhrs) from our batteries, which means we used just under one fifth of our battery capacity cruising today. That equates to just under 3.5 litres of Diesel and at the price we last paid works out at £2.50 for the whole days cruising. We can replenish that much power in about 1 hour from our diesel generator.
I measured the power we used during the lock flight itself and in the 1hr 40 minutes it took us to do the 12 locks we used just 16AH (0.8KWhrs) from our batteries, so we used the equivalent of under a quarter litre of diesel to come down the flight.
I am closely monitoring our batteries to see how they perform. We started the days cruise with the batteries at 52.4 volts and ended it at 52.3 volts. For people who are used to Lead Acid or almost any other type of battery such a tiny volt drop after using a fifth of the batteries capacity is unheard of. But our LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries have almost no voltage drop between 20% and 80% state of charge.
Over all I am pleased with how little power we are using to cruise, its is a little less than I had allowed for from all my research and calculations.