Bat Signal

We waited until the evening to set off from Coventry so that we could drive in cooler conditions.  Once the batteries had been brought back up to full charge, we moored at the next reasonable looking spot.  It was only after we’d tied up that we noticed we were next to a canal-side bench.  It was still very hot even after sunset, so I took the laptop outside and sat on the bench.  When I noticed bats flitting around I wanted to let Clare know.  Rather than shouting or moving, I sent the message “Bat” using the Signal app on my phone.  She came out quickly and managed to see a few more flitting around against the gradually darkening sky.

Yesterday we moved towards Nuneaton, stopping at one point to get a reasonable sized shop done before the Sunday trading laws made it difficult.  On our way back from the shop, we happened to pass the circus with exciting music pounding out of the big top.  A short while further down the canal, while going slowly past a boatyard we exchanged pleasantries.  I asked if they could service our diesel engine – the 500 hour service light has been flashing for a while.  He told us he could, but we should moor up nearby and get booked in in the morning.

We tried to get moored up where he suggested, but the shallow water made that tricky.  Eventually I decided to reverse back to some mooring rings I’d noticed the other side of the bridge.  As we did so, I looked harder at the boat I was negotiating around and realised why its name sounded familiar.  It was also built by Ortomarine as a community trip boat.  I had a pleasant chat with the volunteer skipper before they set off next morning.

Hargreaves II passes Bartimaeus
Hargreaves II Trip Boat Passes Moored Bartimaeus

I’d taken all of the trim off the ceiling to get access to the diodes that are part of the solar charging circuitry. I knew that one of them may have suffered from water ingress. I was hoping that I would find a further selection of damaged diodes and that replacements for these would sort the charging problem.

Four of the nine diodes were showing signs of damage, but strangely my meter showed them all still functional. Worse news was that only four of the eight panels were generating a voltage, so the fault was not with the diodes. I wired the four working panels together and managed to get charge at midday for the first time in a while – but only at a measly 100W – the four panels should be generating that much each.

Singed Diode Assemblies
Diode Assemblies Showing Evidence of Overheating

When I walked over to the boat yard in the morning, the main man had already left to go to another job.  Another staff member took my details and promised we’d get a phone call, and probably get the job done later this week.  We discovered that this afternoon was the last performance before the circus left town, so we decided to leave the boat and run away to the circus.  It seems a little strange to leave Edinburgh with the Fringe in full swing and go to a circus in Nuneaton, but we reckoned it was much less of a Covid risk.

Yesterday I sent an email update on the situation with the solar panels to Rob at Ortomarine.  Rob seems to have interpreted that as me sending up the bat-signal and phoned me.  He said it was a depressingly similar tale to a sister boat.  Sticking the panels directly to the metal roof was at the recommendation of the manufacturer, but they would not accept responsibility for the failures most likely caused by the mechanical stress of thermal expansion.

Rob has been able to persuade them to supply replacement panels at cost price.  He has worked out a mechanism for installing them with a layer of thermal insulation underneath.  Ortomarine have offered to fit replacement panels for us if we cover the purchase cost – which we’ve agreed to.

The circus was very enjoyable, and not as crowded as Edinburgh venues – we didn’t think we were taking as many risks as the performers.