Monday, 23 July 2012

Fairs Fair …….. isn’t it?

Naive of me I know but I would like to think that the provision of facilities across the system would be the same – you know, fair.  This, fellow boaters, does not, however, appear to be the case!

Over on The Nene and Great Ouse are, so far, the only places we have come across where boaters can do a FREE self-pump out.  Or at least you could two years ago!  And, it’s only over here in this neck-of-the-woods that we have come across the opportunity to get an electric hook-up (with the use of a pre-paid card) outside of a marina.  Then, of course, there’s those marvellous floating visitor pontoons on the Witham and, in places, on the Trent.

The shape of things to come? …………..

lost cygnet 002 (600x800)

What is it?  What is it?  This, dear friends, is a new Smart Meter.  Gone, apparently, are the days of needing a pre-paid card in order to plug into the National Grid.  I read somewhere that the C&RT are installing 400 of these across the system but I suspect that most of them will be where there are permanent moorings – for instance they have already been installed at both Torksey and West Stockwith Basins.

This one could be very unusual because it has replaced an old conventional meter at an ordinary 24 hour visitor mooring spot at a place called Drakeholes on the Chesterfield.  Quite how you get to use it I haven’t managed to find out yet!  Obviously you key in a special number but we could see nowhere to put in a card so it can’t be anything to do with debit cards.  I’m guessing that you have to register to use them and then you will be allotted a user number?  Card reader maybe?  I must resist getting too excited as I’m not anticipating seeing too many around!


Wish List ……..

  • These meters…   To be able to utilise a provision like this every so often when cruising around?  Civilized Boating!  Boating in the C21st!  Intelligent Boating!  Why can’t they be available in prominent places across the system – Braunston?  Fradley?  Banbury?  Bancroft Basin?  Yes, I can see that vandalism and abusive use by the ‘Linger-Longers’ could be a problem but if they were placed where there was at least some level of supervision?  Wouldn’t it be good though?
  • C&RT pump-out facilities placed at regular intervals on all canals and rivers.  I don’t expect pump-outs to be free – that really is naive – but I do expect to be able to pump out when we need to rather than having to rely on marinas and, in some cases, be totally ‘ripped off’ by them.  Wouldn’t it be good though?
  • Plenty of safe, pontoon visitor moorings on all rivers.  In terms of good old Health & Safety I would have thought this essential?    Our colleagues over on the Nene and Great Ouse these last few months should not have had to put up with wading and paddling ashore!  Wouldn’t it be good though?

All this of course means ££££££££££££!  So, UP would go the Licence Fees yet again!  And, of course, some boaters don’t want to go on rivers so why should they pay towards the installation of floating pontoons?  And some boaters don’t want to use hook-up points – they’re happy running their engines or using generators to charge their batteries.  And, not all boaters need pump-outs as they use cassettes so why should they worry about insufficient facilities?

We live in a society where fairness is of extreme importance and rightly so.  How about having a Grade 2 type of licence then?  You could opt to pay more in order to utilise certain facilities?  Mind you, if everyone paid their licence in the 1st place perhaps there would be enough money in the kitty to provide these things anyway! 

Oh gosh!  Digging big holes comes to mind!  I think I had just better STOP there and ………………….. carry on dreaming!!

lost cygnet 004 (600x800)

lost cygnet 009 (600x800)

We are in the basin at West Stockwith ready to leave tomorrow.

The bank is perfect, the weather is perfect, the mood is perfect.

The captain has been carrying around all the ‘stuff’ necessary to re-paint the back section of the roof so …… let’s J.D. I.    (Just Do It!)

                               lost cygnet 006 (800x600)             

By the way:–  on our way here we saw the ‘lost’ cygnet – still swimming in the wrong direction but alive and looking well.  I had visions of nets, pillow cases, large shopping bags, bicycle baskets and things but …………. decided, in the end, to leave well alone.

Still no new specs.       


  1. So questions:
    Is almost everything on your boat 12 volts? So when you plug into 240 at a marina or "smart pole" there is a battery charger and/or other rectifier that turns the 240VAC into the 12VDC? I could see building a boat that was 100% 12V, running off the batteries all the time, with solar and maybe wind to charge them, as well as using the engine's alternator to charge, too. Does this make any sense at all?

    1. Hi Tray,
      Your questions are a "can of worms". I suspect Harpic or Toad told you to open?
      However....I can't resist a callenge.(John here, by the way.)
      Our boat is mainly 24 volt (Just to be awkward), the lighting is dropped down to 12 volt, (always got 12 volts then.... the LEDs like that).
      Certain domestic appliances, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, iron etc., are 240volt. This is achieved via an "Inverter", converts 24V to 240V (Battery knackering.)
      When on "Hook-up" i.e. 240v from marina, generator, pole etc.,all 240v sockets are useable, and, yes, the battery charger is chargeing the battery bank and supplying 24v to water pumps etc.
      Re solar & wind genni's, Absolutely "fan-bloody-tastic" in theory, but...........better than nothing.(At the moment!) I suppose.
      My engine altenator, a 24v-120 amp jobby,also charges my domestic battery bank.
      It is also possible to run a 240v "Power pack" from the engine. But thats another story!
      JG, I do hope I have made some sense & not bored you to tears.
      Down the Pub with a pint (warm beer) is the best place to discuss these matters.
      However, your not time you are, get Del Boy to arrange it!!!!!!
      Bye for now, John.
      P.S. Ange's understanding of all this "Sparkey" stuff is Nil, she says that now, after all that, she has lost the will to live!!(Mind you, if it doesn't all work.....I may stop living!!!)... ;-}

  2. John,
    This makes perfect sense! It seems very versatile and practical. I've followed some of the young people (Mike Perham, Zac Sunderland) on their around the world voyages, and was wondering how so much of the marine electronics and electrics worked. Thanks for taking the time to give me an education. And I'll definitely make sure we find you the next time I'm over (and there will be a next time!).