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LondonRascal

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LondonRascal last won the day on April 20

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About LondonRascal

  • Birthday 07/06/1979

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    http://www.norfolkbroadslive.com

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    Broadcaster, Blogger and Technology Evangelist from London. Enjoys a good coffee, Ale an boating.

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  1. Well, I thought I would add something to this topic, since I sourced and helped install the panels on Broad Ambition. While it is indeed correct that the glass 'framed' panels will last longer, and are more efficient, newer flexible panels have come along and often offer a good compromise if you want to avoid having the unsightly look of framed panels, and also at times can put stuff on them - or even if you really need to - walk on them without breaking them. On Broad Ambition, we have two 100w panels. These are bonded to the cabin topside with VHB tape from 3M. This is the mother of all adhesive tapes, and has done just fine for a couple of years now - in all weathers, from rain, ice, and fierce sunlight. We wired the panels using specialist 'solar panel cable' this is thick stuff, tinned (so wont corrode) but limits voltage drops along its length to the minimum. This then goes to an MPPT solar controller. Here is what MPPT is all about: This is why paying the extra for an MPPT controller is vital to extract maximum efficiency out of the panels. What annoys me about panels when you see them advertised is their wattage figure - this means very little because we are dealing with DC power and the key is Amps. An average 100w panel, in the most ideal, perfect conditions might be able to provide a maximum output of 5Amps. In real life, you might see 3.5A to 4A though. So you can see, with two of them on a ideal summers day you will have in the real world situation maybe 8Amps coming in. This is a drop in the ocean to what your Alternator will put out, or shore based battery charger. So you need to see them for what they are, they will charge a house battery bank over several days of good weather, or they will cover the power draw, or a good degree of it, from say your fridge running. In our set up, on a summers day where we may have an additional coolbox running alongside the fridge the panels help reduce the amount of battery use these take - so for every hour, they reduce the discharge amps by perhaps 4Amps on average. This is very little in the general scheme of things, but every little helps - as does anything else you can do to reduce power use like changing all lighting to LED. If you consider the cost of the panels, cables, connectors, controller and so on it does cost a few hundred pounds and won't suddenly 'power your boat' but you will find your overall power use is less, other than of course the moment the clouds come over or its a dull day where their output will plummet.
  2. Been a loooong old time since I was updating this topic - the old sockets Stuart asked about, I have parted with this - sorry. But this is an update about my future - and that of Indy: I have spent over three years living onboard Independence - and it has been wonderful, but at the same time, I have felt restricted and a growing feeling of not being in a settled place. So, I have bought a three bed detached house in Lincolnshire which will become my new base. Of course if I am no longer going to be living full time on Independence, she is one hell of a big boat to pop down to for a weekend stay and cruise to the likes of Reedham and back. So, I have begun packing away my possessions - which I never though I had too much of living on a boat, yet when it comes to boxing them up it all adds up. Once I am off the boat - completion of the house keeps being put back but fingers crossed it will finally happen come end of April - I will be putting Independence up for sale. I feel a greater sense of emotion at this prospect than when I left London, maybe because when you live on a boat, you feel so much more connected to the environment. When we have had gale force winds, and I am out adjusting lines, adding extra fenders and so on, you feel like the old girl is looking after you more than you would in a house. Or clearing ice and snow off her decks, or dealing with big flood tides or even waking up to find all the water is missing and she is on the mud. She has always been a cost, warm and dry boat, and a home from home with her wonderful space, Teak interior, king size bed, and conveniences of a washer dryer, dishwasher and big shower mean yo never feel like you are 'making do'. Of course the fact I am moving to a new county does not mean my days on the Broads are at an end, but I shall be returning to holidays and weekends rather than all the year. I sure will miss the peace and ebb and flow of the river, but am excited at the prospect of making my new house a home. My only issue is, literally everything will need to be bought - from the bed, to the sofa, to the coffee table so this will be an interesting (and costly few months) ahead.
  3. It has been a while since updated this thread, so here are some previous videos covering Independence you may have missed..
  4. This morning my water pump decided to spring a leak, from the PumpGuard filter - I had no idea that getting this fixed would take so long, and see me having to bypass the filter temporarily while a regalement is ordered. Trust me to have an unusual inlet/outlet configuration on my filter assembly than that any chandlery has in stock currently.
  5. Any decent sized cable quick connector would suffice, the voltage and amperage's produces are not going to be big - here was one I found on Brian Ward's Website - but there are better more cosmetically pleasing types which are often used on boats where the wheelhouse has lighting inset in the sliding canopy - and a 'curly' connector plugs in at the helm.
  6. I might surprise some - but I would, having spent a great deal of time talking to people about batteries (not sales people and websites) that the Lithium batteries in boats are not all they are cracked up to be. The positive points come down to three things: They are able to have a lot more discharge and re-charge cycles, you can pull incredible Amps out of them without damage right down to 5% state of charge and finally you are able push in masses of Amps back in when re-charging seriously cutting down on re-charge times. The problem is they are just not a long lasting as the claims portray. We are only really now seeing real life evidence of this in electric cars where they are run in the 'real world' and not the laboratory. So you have someone say a battery can last 5,000 cycles - and still provide 80% useful energy, but then find it was only good for 2,500 cycles and was only giving you 60% useful energy. Its fine in your mobile phone, but on a boat where you will have paid out several thousand pounds for the batteries and associated kit, it just not going to be worth the outlay (in my opinion). Furthermore, it also is worth thinking just what high amperage demand for power you really need to justify Lithium - running electric cooking, like an induction hob and kettle? Then it makes sense to have batteries happy to supply 100Amps+ to these through a beefy Inverter without issue. But, keeping gas to cook with? Well your lithium batteries are hardly going to be used to their full potential and sit there just dribbling out amps to run the fridge, telly and lights. Electric vehicles come with warranties on the batteries, and it is one of the factors many used electric cards suffer with is the warranty expiring and nobody wanting to spend for a new pack - I think a Nissan Leaf's battery bank is about £8,000 to replace! Buying in a bunch of batteries for your boat and you will see the best your get is 2 years limited warranty on them, and when you see their cost, and the fact you need to also pay out for a completely new charging system (many Lithium batteries now come with onboard charging management so its not a requirement) but without changes to your shore charger and alternator charging set up, you are not able to recharge them rapidly - which kind of defeats one of the reasons of having them to begin. So for me, if it is not flooded Lead Acid, sealed GEL batteries is where it is at. Far far more cycle life than AGM batteries, and able to take a very high re-charge amperage rate, and be deeply discharge too. Their only weakness is you must re-charge them soon after they have been discharged deeply, failure to do so will damage them very quickly. Some changes are needed with their charging profile too, but most shore battery chargers have a 'GEL' setting and a DC-DC charger would also have a profile for GEL too making things easier than lithium, they cost - but nowhere near in the same league as Lithium. You can get flat, semi-flexible panels. We have 2 on B.A. Here is an example, 100w panel. A 100w panel in perfect conditions will provide about 5Amps DC charge. So you can see, they are not going to re-charge your batteries, but will 'cancel out' the amps your fridge might use during the day for example. Also, anytime the sun is out you know your getting a little top up of power - for nothing. You can wire several together, but make sure your total amperage does not exceed your Charge Controller's input/output. You will need some special 'solar panel cables' which are very thick and tinned copper throughout - this is to cut any voltage loss along their run to the absolute minimum. They use special connectors - easy to buy and cheap - and these then connect to the brains that takes the power they generate, and sends it off to your battery bank at 12v - the panels might produce close on 20v and this is why you need a solar charge controller between them and a battery. Here are some links: 100w Semi-Flexible Solar Panels MPPT Solar Charge Controller Solar Panel Cable
  7. I thought I would help some 'lockdown fatigue' with some videos - this was taken in the days before England's second lockdown. These videos are all filmed on my mobile phone but the footage I captured during this trip on my proper camera I am having some issues editing since I am trying to do such on a small, low spec Laptop - but I'll get there in the end. These more recent 'diary format' Blogs, are simple and hark back to the original Captain's Blogs with very little in the way of editing (its all one on my phone) and have no background music. Despite not being polished affairs, I hope none the less you will enjoy:
  8. I know a chap who has not so long ago bought one of Rchardson's 'Ibiza' ex- hire boats, 38ft centre cockpit Aquafibre. All he has done is had it taken out the water so he was able to paint the hull - its not perfect and factory fresh, its tidy and brightens the boat up a great deal. He is over the moon. He also had shore power put in and a ring main. That is it. Now, down the line he may wish to add a battery charger, or fit an electric immersion heater and change the lighting inside, or have the seating re-upholstered etc etc. In short it is a working boat that is mechanically sound. Its turn key ready for him and family to get onboard and head out for a weekend and that really is the biggest thing and what sometimes is lost in the excitement of initial ownership. Sure you want to make it your own and so on, but sometimes all the cosmetic things can be put on the back burner of the hob three doors down form you - all in good time. I went down the rabbit hole throwing many thousands of pounds at Independence to make her look good inside and out and replace things and adding things, but on a blustery November day as today was, as I wash her getting covered in cold soapy water, I stand back and think 'you'd never know it now'. Concentrate on having a happy boat, you enjoy that starts when you want it to and keeps you warm and comfortable everything else is a bonus down the line.
  9. I'd seen the Police about and heard of one but was unaware of more than one being targeted - I have several CCTV cameras on my boat along with security lighting - alas they only cover my boat not the paths and access roads so never capture people just passing on foot or vehicles and having checked, I've certainly not had anyone 'snooping' on my boat. I can't say I am surprised this has happened, but a shame especially as the Marina has taken steps to make it more secure with higher fencing and additional security. It would make walking out with such gear that much harder to 'climb over' a fence or barrier - but I doubt this was opportunistic. It does not take but a moment to walk along rows of boats and looking in at helms to see those which have new and valuable navigation equipment and then come back at night knowing what boats have the best pickings. Many Marina's have free WiFi as part of their service to berth holders, and with high definition, small cameras that simply need a USB socket (so an adaptor in a 12v accessory socket on any boat to power them) and a WiFi connection you get instant alerts to your phone the moment movement is seen, full talk back between you and the camera and cloud recording so even if the camera is thrown or broken the footage has been stored remotely. For £60.00 its well worth having, even if just in the helm area pointing at your stern to capture anyone getting in through a door/canopy/window etc. Example IP CCTV Camera
  10. On Trixie, she has a 43HP Nanni engine and a 28 Gal (127Ltr) fuel tank. She is a small boat at only 24' long and 9'6" beam but for whatever reason, when built she was specified with the largest engine option (almost all of these in hire fleets had a 28Hp engine and many private models had 35hp or 37Hp engines). Anyway, I have in the past done all the usual north south cruising and she sips fuel - her happy range is 1,200 RPM which gives just over 4MPH and at 1,450RPM she is doing 5MPH. 1,700 will give her 6MPH and anything over this (right up to her maximum 3,200 RPM) buries the stern, causes horrendous wash and maxes out at just over 7MPH. I therefore ponder around at between 1,200 and 1,400 RPM almost all of the time on the northern rivers. Now, the most important things she has fitted are: A fuel gauge A water gauge A waste tank gauge Battery management monitor All the above take away guessing. When I am out and about, as I was for 9 days prior to this new Lockdown, I still want to re-charge my battery bank to 95% state of charge, this might take 4 hours of engine run time and means I can change the scenery even if the area I come back to for the overnight mooring may be the same, and is better for the engine to be under load than just running acting as an expensive battery charger. Despite this, and often running my diesel heater (2Kw Eberspacer) overnight, I used 32 litres of fuel. Other than over Christmas, many boatyards sell fuel - from small former hire yards now only carrying out engineering work and acting as private moorings, to larger hire yards. The cost of fuel per litre does not vary too much - 99p/ltr seem the cheapest £1.25/lts the most pricey. Larger yards charge more, smaller less. But the availability of fuel is not going to be an issue, so in my opinion there is no need to even contemplate a second fuel tank but a fuel gauge so you know how much you have - yes, do get one of those. They are not expensive and as long as you can gain access to the tank not a long protracted job to fit. I'd also recommend having a water gauge fitted along with a waste tank gauge - on Trixie, her water gauge is located by the galley sink which is handy as you can just glance over and think 'ahh tomorrow I need a top up'. She hold 40Gal of water (186Ltr) but on my own I can get three days easily, four at a push before needing to re-fill. The waste tank is an LED affair. Green, Amber and Red. When the Amber light comes on it is time to seek a pump put - for when the red LED illuminates, it is not a case of 'this needs doing soon' but more 'the thank is now almost completely full'. For her size, the holding tank is generous - 22Gal (98Ltr) and I can easily go over a week without any issues when alone before needing to worry about a pump out. Now you might not think that knowing what your batteries are doing is a big deal, but trust me - knowing is key. I spent a great deal on new batteries, updating them to a larger domestic bank, and running a separate cranking battery (which now also operates the small Bow Thruster). Despite having over '330Ah' of capacity, I really have a usable capacity of about 165Ah. This is because I use 'old fashion' flooded Lead Acid batteries, which are cheap and easy to replace and don't require anything fancy to look after them. But every time you 'cycle' any battery, you take just a bit of life from it, and the more you discharge the less usable life you have - so I like to ensure I try not to deplete the batteries by more than 50% day to day - and only take them down to 80% discharge every now and then. I have a cheap bit of kit that monitors what voltage the batteries are at, how many Amp Hours I have taken out of the battery bank and conversely what voltage my Alternator is putting out and amperage they are being charged back up at. The previous owner had no such system, the batteries he had we literally dry - I just naively replaced them - only to find them destroyed a couple of months later. Only when I had got the system looked at by a proper marine electrician, did I find out the full extent of issues - and another big outlay for yet more new batteries was needed. The Alternator regulator had gone and so it was over charging, not to mention the shore powered battery charger was set up wrong and putting way too much voltage into them when plugged in - it also had melted a fuse holder so the previous owner (or someone) had just bunged in a bigger fuse and pretended there was no issue. I recently after two boatyards and Panks of Norwich had fiddled around with my original 1992 Alternator, bit the bullet and bought a new one. My charging system now is running just perfectly. The only added upgrade I may make is a DC to DC multi-stage battery charger, which smartly charges the batteries. It takes the output from the Alternator, then decides the voltage and amps to re-charge the batteries at - running through a 'Bulk Charge' then 'Absorption' and then 'Float' charge modes. Using one of these cuts re-charge time, and keeps the batteries in the best condition one can. Of course, a small Solar Panel connected to its own smart charging controller (MPPT are the best for this) would mean on sunny days the batteries would get a trickle charge. Here are links to products I've mentioned above: NASA Battery Monitor 30Amp DC to DC Battery Charger Marine Fuel Tank Sensors and Gauges
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