Full Sun

The run of bright long days and short drives has meant we have had nearly full batteries.  Yesterday, we were again drifting lazily down the river and mostly using less power to the propellor than we were soaking up from the sun.  Once the boat race we encountered had finished though, the organisers wanted us to hurry through the course so that they could start the next one.  There was some confusion, and we were then asked to go back a bit.  It took quite a bit of power to go back up stream and then hold station against the current.

By the time we reached Sandford Lock the battery level had dropped to 84%.  Fortunately we had no trouble getting on to the electric point above the lock.  I deliberately reduced the charging rate (to 6 amps) so that the solar panels would continue to charge us up too.  By sunset, the batteries were nearly fully charged.  This was another record amount of solar power generation for the day – 6.1 KWh.

I’d taken advantage of the postal service to Edinburgh to get a number of things delivered to me.  So I now have a collection of goodies requiring further attention on the boat.

Miscellaneous collection of items sitting on a cushion.
A Collection of Attention Seeking Objects

I decided I had the time and energy to deal with one of them. Ortomarine had sent us the diodes they had not been able to source in time for fitting the solar panels. The panels work pretty well without them, as we’d just proved. In full sun they aren’t required, but if one of the panels is shaded (by a tree, say) the diodes allow the other panels to work more efficiently.

Rob had carefully arranged that the missing diodes were all in the saloon, which reduced the amount of work involved. It only took me a few minutes with a screwdriver to remove the trim. Here I also had an advantage over Bob and Ian. The warm sunny weather meant the roof was a little longer than when they were here. They had needed to squeeze the trim back in to place, I found it slipped in to place easily.

Inside the saloon of a narrowboat.  The white painted wooden trim along one edge of the ceiling has been removed.  Dangling from the ducting are wires.  Three  green diode blocks hang from the wires
Diodes Ready to Be Hidden Away

This morning I switched the shore power off at breakfast time.  I also set the immersion heater to heat some water, otherwise we’d not have anywhere to put the energy coming in from the roof.  Despite this, by the time we cast off after lunch the batteries were fully charged.

The important jobs for the day were to get to the next lock at Abingdon where we could fill the water and empty the waste tank.  The total distance was under five miles, and the sun was shining with only the occasional cloud.  The entire section was very peaceful.  The banks were lined mostly with fields or woodland.  There were hardly any other boats about.  When anything came up behind, I moved over to port and invited them to pass us.

One of the boats coming the other way seemed unusually functional – these guys were not just out for a pleasure cruise.

Workboat heading upstream on the river.  The boat is flat and rectangular.  Tyres are fixed in a continuous row down the side of the boat to act as fenders.  A small cab is occupied by two people in fluorescent work clothes.
More Functional than your Average Cruiser

It wasn’t long before we found out where they had been working.  As we got a little further downstream, we could tell from the rhythmic thumping that some of the workforce had piles.  They were working on replacing the abutment of the railway viaduct on the line between Oxford and Didcot

Metal arch railway bridge over the river.  One span is marked with a large red X to show that it is not to be used for navigation.  Under it is a large amount of hardware making passage impossible.  A line of yellow floats form a barrage.
Please Use the Right Hand Span Going Downstream

This unscheduled essential work has meant that trains from Manchester and Birmingham are forced to terminate at Oxford.  Luckily for us, therefore, some of our connections have been on trains that are quieter than usual.  Now that we are beyond this breakage, it will make a lot more sense for us to travel via London for our remaining trip to Edinburgh.

Part of a railway viaduct over a river.  There is a large space on the river bank where the tracks should be.  Various cranes and other large machines are in evidence.
No Trains for Months Yet

We got to Abingdon Lock in late afternoon.  We filled and emptied tanks and disposed of our recycling before walking to the lock to ask about moorings.  The lock keeper was extremely friendly (we’re beginning to expect that now) and suggested we could moor anywhere beyond the lock bollards.  I then remembered this lock from a previous visit – the signage is non-standard, but effective.  One sign says “Keep left of the red floaty things (buoys)” which is excellent navigational advice when going downstream.

Large blue sign at the side of a lock. The text says: "The cooking of roast dinners, bacon, egg or sausage sandwiches, is prohibited whilst in the lock. Pleas pass all such items to lockstaff for safe disposal"
Unusual Lock Regulations

Fortunately we did not fall foul of the unusual regulations on the other sign – asparagus risotto is not listed, and in any case was not yet being prepared.