Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Suddenly, life's gone quiet!

Sadly, there's little to write about at the moment. The weather is colder, grey and drizzly, and we really are not tempted to go anywhere in the boat until it improves.  Visits from friends are postponed until that time - should it come before the end of the month.  So our days are slow and lazy, though we have bursts of busyness doing jobs around the boat - washing it, waxing, polishing, fixing things, and I even got right down into the engine compartment for the first time yesterday, to check the fluid levels in the batteries, and generally look around.  The bilges are totally dry, which is good.  The batteries... well, I think the fluid levels are all right, but I was only able to check half of the cells of the three domestic batteries because of the stupid lack of headroom above them.  We drove into Rugby this afternoon, to try to find a few bits and pieces which would make that and other jobs a bit easier next time, but came back with just a box of toothpicks, a small tin of Vaseline jelly, and a disposable boiler suit - and only the latter was for working on the boat!

We've been having concerns about the batteries again.  We've had two lots of conflicting advice about how to use them.  One school of thought says keep them on trickle charge all of the time while we're using a shoreline, to keep the state of charge high.  The other says let them run low before recharging them, and this is the practice we've adopted.  It made sense, because this is surely how things would be when we are cruising, and have no mains electricity supply to rely on when we are moored.  We run the engine for five, six, maybe more hours during the day, charging the batteries from the alternator on the engine.  When we are moored and the engine is off, the use of lights, water pump, and inverter to power our computers will start to drain the batteries.  In the morning, the process will start again.

Sadly, this turns out to have been the wrong thing to do, though, and I have noticed that the battery voltage has fallen too quickly after each charging.  A quick plea for help in the Canal World Discussion Forums brought a good number of replies saying, "You're ruining your batteries".  Sigh.  So for the rest of the day I've had the charger on all of the time, and I do detect an improvement in the state of charge now, at 10:30pm.  Let's hope that daily treatment like this will restore the health of the batteries - I'm told it is possible.

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