9 hours crusing for 1 hour generator use

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.

First Locks

Kidderminster trip day 2

A mamouth days cruise today which Eric will post some technical details separately. But the big excitement was doing our first locks in Firecrest.

A bit like buses, nothing for 5 months then a flight of 12 all in one go.  We could already see a difference in the landscape as we ventured into unchartered waters. I looked behind me and saw the the Peak District disappearing in the distance.

Believe it or not I still lack a lot of confidence when it comes to driving. (Or perhaps it is Eric who lacks confidence when I am driving, but I can’t say I blame him.)

Which meant that Eric got to stay in the boat whist I did all the hard work

The Bosley Flight is 12 narrow locks descending 36m spread over a mile. It’s very pretty but having not worked a lock since we helped John and Martina down the Wigan flight last summer, it was hard work.

The sun was shining and it was quite exhilarating to be cruising without restriction, so we pushed on and probably over did mooring up just above Hall Lane stop lock for the night. Eric has been able to collect some interesting figures about our fuel consumption and efficiency which he’ll post separately.


Collecting supplies

Kidderminster trip, day 1

Having left the boat yard we are now on our way with a purposeful destination in mind. We are heading south to meet friends in Kidderminster.

First we had to stop in Bollington to pick up some woodwork from Ric at Eyedesigns, Ric made our quirky coffee table and the beautiful new oak conservatory table that we had fitted last week.

We then cruised on through Macclesfield and stopped off at M&S to replace Eric’s holey trousers, and to replace the mooring chain that I think I left on the Peak Forest canal on Tuesday. Plus a few other bits and bobs from the chandlery.

although we didn’t do a lot of mileage we were on the go all day and as it had started to pour with rain we moored up at Gurnnets Aquaduct.

Cruising time-3 hours,

Distance-7 miles,

Average speed 2.3mph


The tanks are full and we’re on our way

No rest for the wicked, Braidbar had a hectic weekend  at the Crick Show, taking second place for the visitors favourite show boat. They returned exhausted on Tuesday afternoon. The yard was full, with boats and customers both old and new, and a wet and soggy marquee to dry out. And to top it all we’d discovered a new problem on Firecrest. The valves on the radiators were leaking. We first saw this about 2 or 3 weeks ago. We think that because it was only a slow weeping leak the heat from the radiators being on had caused the fluid to evaporate which is why it wasn’t seen earlier. Three attempts at tightening the valves failed to rectify the problem so the system was depressurised and jointing compound was applied. We think that’s sorted it out.

James and Reg tackled the ventilation and sound insulation around the generator so we can at least hear ourselves think whilst it’s running.

And the lads delivered 200kg of extra steel ballast to trim the boat properly.  It will sit under the floor

Peter signed the paperwork and I paid the licence fee and at 5 pm on Thursday June 1st we reversed out under the bridge and Eric winded the boat without embarrassment.

and waved goodbye to the leaving committee. Austin wanted to invite the Poynton Brass band, but then we wouldn’t have been able to show off our silent engine to the assembled onlookers.

After a day of much laughter and excitement, we were too exhausted to go far. we only made it to Bridge 18 at Lyme view Marina for a steak super at the Miners Arms.

Distance travelled exactly 1 mile.

1 step forward and 3 steps back

I have been running my own business since 2002, and each time I upgrade my computer I keep the old one mothballed to support old projects.  Cheryl would never have allowed me to bring all these old PCs onto the boat, but one of my customers now wants a significant update on a circa 1998 product.  Well you can guess what’s coming next.

The snag being, one of the tools I use runs on Windows XP and I only have Windows 10 – 64bit on the boat.

The more frustrating thing is I had the ideal PC which could quickly load Windows 2000, Windows XP and the customer’s software.  In the effort to downsize ready for the boat I gave it to charity (tools with a mission-TWAM)  having not even turned it on for 6 years.  It would have been perfect for what I need – C’est la vie.

Since I use Windows 10 Professional, I can run virtual PCs with other operating systems without interfering with my normal desktop.  Something I have never done but Google came to the rescue finding me some instructions on how to enable it, and how to find a Windows XP virtual machine to load. It turns out Microsoft has recently removed their downloadable copies of a Windows XP virtual PC from the usual page, I guess in an attempt to stop people using XP, but luckily they have it hidden away in another location so I down loaded it anyway.  At home I would have downloaded the Windows 8, Vista, and Windows 10 in 32 and 64 bit versions while I was at it, but as we have to use 4G I have to not waste our download limits.

Still with me?

Got all that done – I have Windows XP running on a virtual PC in a window on my desktop and can load software as if it was a standalone XP PC – brilliant.

Well not quite.  The virtual PC does not support USB, which was the whole point in the first place.  Still, I found another interesting article on how to use USB devices with your virtual PC and what’s more, gives the advantage of full screen use – brilliant.  Well no.  Unfortunately, you can only use USB devices that will talk to your host operating system, which the device I want to use does not, which is the reason I started all this in the first place.

After a few days of research and playing around getting my Virtual Windows XP PC working – I am still back at square one.  So now I am going down the route of buying an old laptop with Windows XP professional on – just so I can use two old and obsolete USB devices.  The alternative is to go back to Suffolk and work from home for a few weeks, perhaps not, I don’t think Cheryl would let me do that either.




Another busy weekend, this time socialising, which means baking and eating and drinking.

And that was another boat learning curve.

My go to easy reliable dessert bake is a lemon tart.

(thankyou Jamie Oliver) make pasty case, pour in a lemon creamy custard and bake for half an hour.

What Jamie Oliver didn’t tell me, was not to over cook the pastry in your new fancy oven otherwise you’d have plenty of crispy trimmings to feed the ducks -yes the ducks knew there was food on offer and came begging at the hatch. it would have been mean not to share with them….

And that when you pour a pint of creamy eggy lemony mix into the pastry case everyone needs to stand still for the half hour it’s baking otherwise every time the boat rocks it will spill over the edges making a horrible mess to clean up.

however, said tart did emerge from wobbly oven reasonably intact and it tasted delicious once the crispy bits had been removed

And so we ate drank and were merry while we said a lot of fond farewells to the lovely people of Whaley Bridge, Bugsworth basin, and Poynton. In particular, thankyou for sharing so much kindness and hospitality to Kate, Annie and Martin from the studio and all the lovely knitters, John and Marion, Pablo and Carli, Lawrence, Carl and Lesley  And so many more people who we’ve chatted to along the way, either on the tow paths,  on their boats or in the pubs. I’m sure we will be back up the Macc and Peak Forest before long but once we’re done at Braidbar we are pointing our boat southwards for the next month or so.


Raising the flag

The flag iris are out in full flower. Hard to photograph en masse but beautiful to look at as we cruise by.

I wondered if I would miss my garden when we moved on board but a field full of buttercups is hard to beat

CRT do a lot of work to maintain the banks of the canals and where there’s been erosion (Not helped by the wake created by fast boaters) wooden stakes are inserted in the canal which hold thick hessian sausages pre seeded with suitable plants and then back filled with dredging. It’s a win win project. Practical and pretty. It won’t be long before this has all taken root and stabilised both backside and footpath.



Drinking and driving, at least he wasn’t speeding as well. Far too hot for that. Everyone was flagging today, but we’d had a busy day in the yard with ‘the lads’ working flat out to get things done before Braidbar set off to exhibit at Crick.

Yes, we’ve made good progress on our snagging list that I’m hoping to share very soon.

Anyway, back to today, hot and bothered and not expecting anything more to be done, we set off for an evening cruise. I made a cuppa but Eric wanted a pint, and I can’t say I blame him.

Manchester remembered

This evening we walked up to Lyme Park and as we turned towards the evening sun, and the urban conurbation in the distance,  we reflected for a moment in our tranquility, for all those in Manchester, who are missing loved ones tonight.


A week of treats ending with a big boaters breakfast this morning

A couple of afternoons spent crafting, making millefleuri crochet hooks out of fimo,

they’ll be making there way to my friends at Wiseheart studio in Whaley Bridge who have offered to sell them for me.

And purchasing a beautiful handmade coffee table from Eyewood Designs in Bollington.

Sharing the day with Tim and Veve, lunch for us at the Vale Inn in Bollington and fresh grass for the horses we met along the way.


And on Wednesday we were visited by Mike Carter who is an inspector for the Boat Safety scheme.  He was very complementary about Firecrest and apart from an ID plate that had been overlooked by Braidbar, (quickly remedied) it’s another box ticked. The yard is very busy right now with 4 hulls in build, a boat about to be handed over and the annual Crick next weekend so we might just have to be a bit more patient while we wait for our paperwork and snagging list to be completed.