Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Lancaster Canal

Back in 2005, after a break of boat ownership for many years, we decided to buy again. We were unsure what area of boating to pursue at that time, and decided to buy a used cruiser, that was capable of both river estuary cruising and wide canal cruising. As well as providing a relatively cheap entry back into boat ownership, it also gave us time to decide whether we both wanted to make the leap, and major investment required into a more substantial boat, and also provided time to decide what type of boat to buy.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Other boating interests again!

With little to write about narrowboats and canals at the time being, as we prepare for the winter, here is another attempt I made at video production back in 2007, (due to a still unresolved Blogger issue with uploaded video, where videos stop working after a few hours, I have had to replace it with still photographs, so my apologies for that). This is pre-narrowboat ownership, and I took the footage whilst driving a fast powerboat on a 30 knot passage from the coast at Rock, Cornwall, up the estuary of the River Camel to Wadebridge, having passed the helm to a friend. Not the easiest thing to do at speed, and it turned out a little grainy, but I think that gives it atmosphere, although the impression of the actual speed got lost. The water had calmed somewhat once in the estuary. It would have been impossible to shoot the footage in open water due to the swell at the time, which was around 4 feet, although not choppy at all.

Motoring down the Camel Estuary from Rock

Inside Padstow Harbour from the boat

Padstow Harbour

Port Quin (next door to Port Isaac) from the boat.
The boat is made by Cranchi, an Italian company, is fitted with a single large Volvo Penta diesel linked to a Volvo Penta stern drive, and is equipped with VHF radio, a GPS plotter and all other relevant safety equipment, and is owned by my brother. This particular journey takes you down the coast from Port Isaac (the location of the Doc Martin TV series), past the "Doom bar" sandbank, aptly named and is itself the location of many a shipwreck due to its hazardous and constantly moving nature, into the inlet of the estuary (where this clip starts), past Padstow Harbour, and up to Wadebridge. At low tide, the river at Wadebridge, under the A39 road bridge, dries out.

Happy memories!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Time Travellers

This time last year, on 23rd. September, we boarded MV Oriana at Southampton to join her world cruise as a means of travelling to Australia to visit my cousin for the first time, our first foreign holiday in over 7 years. We spent 6 weeks aboard ship, travelling West, first to Madeira, before crossing the Atlantic to our next port of call, St. Lucia.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Canal transits with a difference

During our winter cruise we will transit both the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal. Both have long and varied histories which are just as interesting as the inland canals of the UK, and both came about as a result of Victorian ingenuity, and the need to provide a commercial waterway in order to reduce transport costs - in the same way that our canal system was developed.

The Suez Canal

Although the Suez Canal wasn't officially completed until 1869, there is a long history of interest in connecting both the Nile River in Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. It is believed that the first canal in the area was constructed between the Nile River delta and the Red Sea in the 13th Century B.C.E. During the 1,000 years following its construction, the original canal was neglected and its use finally stopped in the 8th Century.
The first modern attempts to build a canal came in the late 1700s when Napoleon Bonaparte conducted an expedition to Egypt. He believed that building a French controlled canal on the Isthmus of Suez would cause trade problems for the British as they would either have to pay dues to France or continue sending goods over land or around the southern part of Africa. Studies for Napoleon's canal plan began in 1799 but a miscalculation in measurement showed the sea levels between the Mediterranean and the Red Seas as being too different for a canal to be feasible and construction immediately stopped.
The next attempt to build a canal in the area occurred in the mid-1800s when a French diplomat and engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps, convinced the Egyptian viceroy Said Pasha to support the building of a canal. In 1858, the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company was formed and given the right to begin construction of the canal and operate it for 99 years, after which time, the Egyptian government would take over control of the canal. At its founding, the Universal Suez Ship Canal Company was owned by French and Egyptian interests.
Construction of the Suez Canal officially began on April 25, 1859. It opened ten years later on November 17, 1869 at a cost of $100 million.
The Panama Canal

Entrance to Gatun Locks
Completed in 1914, under budget and ahead of schedule, a canal was first attempted by the French and Ferdinand de Lesseps, in 1879, who attempted to build it without locks in the same manner that he had success with the Suez Canal. However, the plan of digging a ditch through the isthmus failed due to insects, tropical rainforest and disease. In 1889 the canal company folded after the loss of 20,000 lives during the attempt.
It was John Stevens, America's greatest railway engineer who came up with a workable plan. This was to dam the Chagres River to create the Gatun Lake. The dam would create electrical power to operate the lock gates and locomotive mules, gravity directing water into the locks. Three locks on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides, raises ships which are in effect sailing up and over Panama. The plan worked. Another part of the success of this plan was the initial eradication of yellow fever and a serious campaign to make the zone liveable before work began. Dr. Gorgess had eradicated the yellow fever mosquito from Havana, Cuba, and he was called upon to work in the canal zone before construction started. The area was cleaned by insecticide and soap, with fumigating teams working around the clock. The programme called for new sewers, screens on all windows, piped water, paved streets, swamps drained and bush cleared. The plan worked, and today the canal zone is free of risk from yellow fever.
The current size of the locks restricts shipping to a maximum size, and suitable commercial vessels are built to a standard known as Panamax. However, there are new locks currently under construction which will allow larger ships to transit. These will be known as new Panamax, but there are already ships in use that will be too large even for them.

The cost of transit to a 69,000 tonne cruise ship such as Oriana, with a 20% premium to allow her schedule to be maintained with priority, is in the region of $240,000.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Looking forward to our winter cruise

While Tom and Jan (narrowboat-waiouru), are away cruising our boat, and hopefully having a great time, we are busy with preparations for our own winter cruise. Regular readers will know that this year this will again be on Oriana, a P and O cruise ship, on which we will circumnavigate the world between the beginning of January and the middle of April 2012, leaving from, and returning to Southampton. I know that many readers are interested in the specification of Kelly Louise, by the number of views that page gets, so, if anyone is interested, here is the specification of Oriana.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Functioning or Not Functioning - That Is The Question

Or to explain in more detail, did the electrics faults I rectified on Saturday, fully solve the mystery, or is there more to consider? Why would I ask that? Well - first I will again briefly explain what the equipment is, what the faults were, and when they first showed themselves......

Thursday, 15 September 2011

This is sods law at its best.

Isn't is strange, when sods law cuts in, it usually hits with a vengeance? When we had the Webasto heating fitted at the end of June, I also decided to replace our (small) domestic battery bank, as they were original to the boat build, and now approaching six years old. I checked the condition of them just prior to taking the boat in, and one was absolutely fine, but the other was not, although the related equipment, such as our Sterling 1800watt inverter was working as it should, as was the charging system through the Sterling Pro Digital Alternator Regulator. As soon as I picked the boat up, after the work, I noticed that the charge lamp on the volt-meter for the domestic side, was flickering on tick-over, and the associated warning buzzer was chirping. This would cease as engine revs increased, and would stop altogether when the engine had run a while. As we were not going to be using the boat after this, until Tom and Jan, who write their blog Waiouru, were to take her over for a while towards the end of the year, I didn't investigate any further.

It was at the end of August when Tom came aboard, and he found that the inverter was also not working, but alarming, showing it was not receiving sufficient 12V supply. This was strange, as during the process of checking the batteries earlier, I had also tested the inverter, and it worked perfectly. Our small domestic batteries were sufficient for out needs, and would last one overnight stay, without any further charging, so I expected the new batteries to be slightly better. We also have C-Tek multi-stage chargers, of the correct size for our batteries, which are connected directly via fuses, and were showing the batteries fully charged. Nantwich Marina, (formerly known as Nantwich Canal Centre), who completed the job of installing the Webasto and the new batteries were contacted, and they kindly arranged an "after-sales visit" to the boat by a technician, in order to diagnose the cause of the problem. This is what he found:

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The baby boy is growing up!

Back in March I reported that we had become grandparents when our son and his wife had their baby son, Ethan, see: <The baby boy arrives safe and well>

This was him then, in the maternity ward at Wigan:

They are currently enjoying a holiday in <Padstow> Cornwall with him, their first holiday as a family. This is him now:

Doesn't it make you feel old!