Friday, August 09, 2013

A trip out for painting

There are stretches of rural mooring just north of Bridges 23 and 27 on the Grand Union which are absolutely ideal for boat painting. In both cases, the metal mooring pilings are very low, close to the water, and allow easy access to the whole of the hull above the blackened area. Ironically, we stopped off at Bridge 23 at the start of our Leicester Ring cruise back in June, and finished the painting on the port side which we had started last autumn. We had intended to find a suitable mooring on the cruise at which to complete the job started on the starboard, but didn't get around to it.

Ironically, after the cruise, the paintwork on the port side (and, no less, the starboard) needed further attention, so yesterday we drove the boat out to Bridge 23 again, intent on completing both sides in two or three days. The port side was relatively simple; just a matter of sanding the scratches and scrapes, then cleaning and painting them.

We adopted a new policy which is going to affect us a lot as long as we have the boat. It is normal practice to apply a primer and an undercoat wherever the paint has been removed to expose bare metal. However, since this is going to need to be done after every cruise we do, and since the topcoat paint is the only one which is actually waterproof, we will in future do as we did yesterday; that is, to apply topcoat only. Any rust which may appear under the paint will show up on the surface long before there is anything worse than surface corrosion, and it will be a quick and simple matter to deal with it again. "Little but often" is the motto.

So, the port side was finished in the afternoon, and it looked good.

Job done!

Part of our plan for the days out was to check just how reliable our batteries are now. We had concerns about them while we were hooked up to the landline in the marina, inasmuch as the battery charger just kept charging, hour after hour, refusing to let the battery voltage drop even a couple of volts. This is unusual behaviour, and sounded alarm bells to me.

As we settled down to our evening meal, the batteries measured 13.2 volts, with little or no load. They were still the same at around 8:00pm when I turned on the inverter, and we both started to use our laptop computers. The voltage dropped very quickly to 12.1v. Not good! Continuing to use the inverter was out of the question. This in itself consumes around 5 amps, added to the 14 used by our laptops. We would expect to start an evening of computer use with the batteries reading around 12.8v, which would drop to 12.4 in a couple of hours.

We spent the evening with one small light on, watching a DVD on Grace's computer, off its own battery power. When that battery went flat about ten minutes from the end of the film, we used the battery-driven TV and DVD player to watch to the end, but the batteries were very low by then, and we went to bed using as few lights as we possibly could.

It rained hard overnight. The paint was unharmed, but the weather looked very unsettled (despite the weather forecast, which promised clear sunshine), and it rained again briefly a couple of times before we got on the move again. The plan had always been to move from Bridge 23 to the winding just beyond 28, then back to moor at the low bank below Bridge 27 in order to paint the starboard side. Please note that the whole journey from the marina to the winding and back is just seven miles - around two hours travel.

We passed the first painting spot, considering the weather to be too windy and uncertain to risk doing any painting. Arriving at the second spot, the sun was out, but the clouds still threatened. So we continued back to the marina, arriving back in time for lunch. We'll have a go next week.

I texted Colin, and booked a day for him to replace our three dead batteries with four new ones. We know the several reasons why this first set - new when we bought the boat - have not lasted as long as they should. We are wiser now, and the new batteries will be maintenance-free, meaning that we will never run the risk of their electrolyte getting too low, as happened a few weeks ago. The new ones will last much longer.

An unusual craft, pushing a butty.

A very small tug

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