Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Bridgemere Garden Centre.

Back at the boat, and another day of heavy rain. No point getting soaked if you don't need to, so I agreed to a drive to a garden centre just 20 minutes drive away, just through Audlem. Are we the only country in the world that can have weeks of consistent heavy rain and still be in drought? Perhaps we should now be looking at our conservancy and infrastructure. Anyway, I digress. Bridgemere is one huge place to visit, with many concession outlets from clothing to food as well as plants, of course. I will know better next time a suggestion is made to visit!

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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Why we needed an engine bay re-wire.

In my last post I mentioned that I had arranged for the boat to have an engine bay re-wire while we were away on holiday for the winter. I also said I would report on the reason why this was necessary at a later date. Now is the time to make that report. We visited the boat last weekend, and all related problems have now been resolved. The story around this is quite complicated.

After the winter layup last year, 2010 / 2011, we noticed that the original Alde central heating boiler that had been fitted to the boat since new, (September 2004), had sprung a leak. After researching the Alde website to find a service agent, I contacted the one listed nearest to us, a matter of minutes away from our mooring, and then made several reports on how the subsequent job of replacing the boiler went. See: There are professional fit outs......... 

To cut a very long story short, I ended up having a replacement Webasto diesel boiler fitted, (which I am really pleased with), and the domestic batteries replaced as part of the same job. In a later post, I sang the praises of the company, only finding the length of time they took, both to make the initial call out visit and the subsequent repair at their yard, a little too long. The time between arranging a call out, and getting the boat back with the new boiler fitted was around 2 months. The cost of the job, which also included a small amount of joinery, to patch up the area where the old Alde used to be in the back cabin, was £3200, which I paid in full and without question. The boat was completed just in time for Tom and Jan, see: to use the boat during the Autumn of 2011, while they were in the middle of sorting out their own issues.

As I motored away from their yard I noticed that the domestic charging circuit warning light was occasionally flashing whilst the engine was ticking over. I didn't think much more about it, as I wouldn't be using the boat myself in the coming months, and, in any case, wondered if it could be something linked to the new batteries. It did however later transpire that this problem persisted, and also, it was soon discovered that the inverter no longer worked, which it most definitely did before the repair. We decided to contact the boat yard, to explain our concerns, only to be met with a statement along the lines of "you will be charged for a call out if we find the problem is nothing related to our work". I thought there may be a lack of customer service here, particularly as we had just spent over £3K with them, but decided they needed to assess the problem, even if there was going to be a further cost. Again, the time to get an engineer visit was quite lengthy, but one did arrive, a week or so later, and diagnosed a faulty alternator, nothing to do with the job they had just completed he stated. Fair enough, but why was the inverter not working? That was not answered. In fact no attempt was made to offer us the opportunity of having any future repair - he just packed up and left us with that, although, to be fair, no call out charge was made.

By now our winter holiday was fast approaching, and I decided to make arrangements with another contractor to resolve the problem while we were away, having now lost all confidence in the original company. This was arranged through a sister company of River and Canal Rescue, see: Canal Contracting They would oversee the work while we were away, sending me progress emails at intervals. This is a list of what was found to be wrong:
1). Faulty domestic alternator, (2003 Barrus Shire 2000 series).
2). Two transistors blown within the Sterling Pro Digital Alternator Regulator. (two wires, battery and alternator, were found to be reversed. The repair to this was completed at a very reasonable cost at the Sterling factory itself).
3). The domestic battery link wires were of incorrect profile, and incorrectly colour coded.
4). The supply wire to the inverter had been joined with a bolt through the tabs, and taped! The extended portion of wire, about 6 inches, was of incorrect profile.
5) The main battery isolation switches had been wired incorrectly, leaving the boat "live" even when switched off.
6) The battery clamps utilized "wing nuts" to attach ancillary wiring instead of bolted nuts.

All is now well again. The alternator has been replaced, the clamps and wiring has been replaced, and the PDAR repaired. The battery switches have been rewired and replaced. The subsequent remedial work that was overseen by Canal Contracting was completed at a very reasonable cost.

I have no evidence at all that these problems were not already present when the boat went in to have the heating boiler and domestic batteries replaced. But, I do know that we had owned and used the boat for 3 trouble free years prior to this, and had passed a BSS inspection. The domestic batteries were removed and replaced with new ones as part of the initial job, and finally, the boat was sailed to the job in full working order, and was sailed away with obvious problems. I will leave it to the reader, but for me, I am fast losing confidence in many of the so called "professional" outfits that operate in boating. I have now drawn a line under this, and don't intend going to the trouble and expense of pursuing matters any further.

Friday, 20 April 2012

It's good to be proper boating again!

After a week sorting ourselves out after over three months away sailing the world's oceans we are now back at Kelly Louise for the first time since last November. While we were away I had arranged for Canal Contracting, sister company to River and Canal Rescue, to oversee an engine bay wiring refit, which included a new alternator to supply the domestic batteries. Everything now seems to be working as it should, and I will report on why the work was needed at a future date. I also intend to review our recent cruise as a whole, which I hope will assist anyone who may be planning their own winter getaway, but I am currently waiting for a reply from P and O Cruises to a few enquiries I made about our own experience, which, on the whole, was fabulous. Finally, a walk around Nantwich this morning has revealed at least a dozen shops closed down since we last visited, with several others displaying closing down notices. Things don't appear to be getting any better. The above images though, are of an area of Nantwich town centre which we had discussed with friends Pat and Clive, whilst aboard Oriana, and is for their benefit, should they read this.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Windsor, back in the UK.

After a quick and easy disembarkation from Oriana, we intended to spend a couple of days with relatives in the south of England before travelling home on Thursday. Today we were tourists again as we spent the day in Windsor, in warm spring sunshine. The Queen is currently in residence at Windsor Castle, and we were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to see the guard march through town with a full military band, for the change over ceremony. Normality kicks in again tomorrow!

Friday, 6 April 2012


After five fine weather days at sea crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Barbados, we have now arrived at our final port of call, Madeira, located off the coast of north west Africa. The island enjoys a year round temperate climate, with a fairly constant temperature between 60 and 70 degrees, with ample rainfall, which allows a lush landscape. It is often referred to as the island of flowers, and is home to the famous Madeira wine. Our visit today is to the capital, Funchal, and as it is Good Friday, much of it is closed. This has not affected our visit, as there are still many attractions operating, such as The old Blandy wine lodge, where the local offerings can be sampled, the famous toboggan ride, and of course the Reids hotel, the haunt of many famous visitors such as Michael Cain, Joan Collins and Sir Winston Churchill. Our visit here is a full day and evening, sailing for Southampton at 10.30pm, which will allow us to see the beautiful bay of Funchal, as it is illuminated after dark, a sight not to be missed. We have also been able to meet friends during the evening, who are currently on holiday on the island. When we leave here we have three final days at sea before arriving back at Southampton on the 10th of April. We would love to stay aboard here, as I am sure some are, for Oriana's next cruise, a 16 night trip to the central Mediterranean, but I suppose all good things must come to an end. For anyone planning their own first world cruise I will put together a full review of our own general experiences of this P&O Cruises world cruise once we are home. Then it will be back to narrowboating matters!