Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Monday, 29 July 2013

A Weekend Away - A Prelude To Our Main Holiday.

We have just returned from our long weekend away, where we entertained friends to our now usual short cruise to Wrenbury and back, (2.5 hours each way on a good run). This time we travelled there alone on Friday morning in glorious sunshine, and then spent the next day there, again in sunshine, chatting to some of the motor-home owners that were at a rally weekend behind the The Cotton Arms. (I quite fancy buying a motor-home to spend our Winters on the Continent, but I have yet to convince Margaret of the benefits of my plan apart from using up yet more retirement cash). After heavy overnight rain, our friends joined us on Sunday, and we cruised back in fair weather laced with the odd shower.

One of the Baddiley locks has been causing problems recently in that the top gate won't quite open fully, and the top hinge bracket bolt systematically scratches the full length of the boat as you exit the lock. Although, as far as I am aware, this has been reported, it caused exactly the same problem this weekend, but, being aware of it this time, I managed to avoid the offending hardware for most of the exit, resulting in only a minor scratch as I started to turn to avoid waiting boats on the lock landing.

A further problem on the way back on Sunday, to another of the Baddiley Locks, was that an obstruction had lodged between the cill and the top gate, stopping it from being closed fully. Apparently, as we arrived, the lock had been closed for several hours, and a lock-keeper had been despatched. The obstruction turned out to be a tree root ball, and although still there, the 'lockie' had managed to re-locate the obstruction so that the gate could be closed, and we went through without problem.

We enjoyed two overnight stays at Wrenbury before we cruised back on Sunday, making sure not to miss sampling the excellent guest ales that are available at the Cotton. However, this brought its own potential problems to us. Kelly Louise, although designed as a live-aboard, having a large stainless steel fresh water tank, large fuel tank, a very large black-water tank, and a fairly large Sterling inverter, was purchased by her original owner, the one before us, as a partially completed boat from the builder. She was fully fitted by a cabinet maker, but had yet to have her batteries and ancillaries installed. The first owner went on to install a shower cubicle, a Morso Squirrel stove, and re-arranged the galley, to remove a dinette, that was obstructing, (in his opinion), the saloon area. What he didn't do was continue the live-aboard theme, and only installed two domestic batteries of a total capacity of 220ah, with a Sterling PDAR to maximise the charge, and minimise the charge time from the engine alternators, but with no built in mains charger as such. I think costs had much to do with his decision, and his plans at that time were to use the boat to live on at its home mooring, with mains, rather than go cruising with it. He never intended it to be a cruising live-aboard. This of course greatly limits how much electricity can be used between running the engine while out and about, and in practice, renders the boat as being suitable only for weekends and holidays away from shore power, with approximately only 100ah of battery resource available for use.

Care should be taken using petrol generators
This weekend was a test of new equipment and living methods for our coming holiday. We now use a small digital TV that was designed for a caravan / motor-home when we are travelling, as opposed the the mains flat screen domestic one. Not only does it have a digital tuner with a far superior 'gain', which helps enormously when using a portable aerial and amplifier, but it also has a minimal 12V power consumption. I then experimented with lighting. I have tried the odd LED in the past, in place of the standard 15W filament bulbs, of which there are 16 throughout the boat, but wasn't too happy with the effect. I have now deployed a floor standing mains fitting with up to 3 X 9W low energy bulbs. This provides as much light as necessary for constant use in the evening, and my thinking is, that even taking into consideration the current that the inverter itself draws while in use, the lights will be more energy efficient than the filament bulbs.

This seemed to prove correct, as this time we enjoyed our overnight stays without running out of power, charging the batteries back to full, (as shown on the charging scale of our C-Tek M100 charger ), by using our small Suzuki generator for 5 hours during the following day, taking care that we were not annoying others while doing so. This of course also enables all the boat's facilities such as the fridge, to be run off mains while this takes place. Mooring in open country for overnight stays would also ensure that using the generator wouldn't cause annoyance to others. Great care should be taken when using generators and that the exhaust is directed well away from the boat's interior, so that invisible carbon monoxide doesn't become a problem. Also the generator should only be used on a deck that is drained to the outside, in case there is any fuel spillage. From an electrical point of view, it would probably be better to have the generator placed ashore, but that brings with it other problems, such as obstruction and the possibility of theft.

The other alternative of course would be to 'finish' the boat with a very large, modern, leisure battery bank complete with a suitable built in inverter / charger, but, that would also prove too costly for us, and in the way we use the boat - not strictly necessary. 

1 comment:

  1. And a good time was had by all!! A lovely way to spend a summer week-end.


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