Knowing Stuff

The sun was shining through thin clouds from early on this morning. Clare decided she wanted a shower to start the day, but realised that there was not likely to be any hot water.  I suggested she press one of the new Boost buttons and there would be hot water by the time she’d had breakfast.  She turned the immersion heater on for half hour, but I turned on the diesel heating for half an hour too.

Clare complained that she didn’t know what to do when.  I gave her my favourite user support answer: “It depends!”  I knew that the forecast was for another hot and bright day, so we’d get plenty of sun to charge the batteries.  We also had a flight of locks to go through, so we were likely to drive electric through them.  There was also a risk of thunderstorms in the afternoon, so we might not drive any great distance, and so wouldn’t be charging the batteries.  So burning some diesel directly to heat the water seemed like a good idea, and using the batteries to speed it up was a good compromise.

In the colder months when we are running the central heating to keep the cabin warm, we have hot water most of the time.  Once the central heating is not needed, we have to factor it in to our plans.

By the time we were ready to set off, boats had started coming by.  I spoke to a man passing with a windlass who said that they had paired up with another boat but a third was coming behind.  Knowing that, we got ready to cast off.  I walked up to the lock while Clare went back to make sure our new lock buddies knew what was going on.

I was slightly disappointed not to be doing the flight with the first boat I’d seen.  It was a boat I’d recognised from Electika 24.  From conversation later in the day I found that it had been built by Gary and his team.  They were very pleased with the craftmanship, which is good to know now that we are committed to letting them make modifications to Bartimaeus.  It confirms what I thought I already knew about them.

The crew of the other boat seemed to know the basics of locking, but didn’t have any sense of urgency or efficiency.  None of these things are essential if you are on holiday on a hot day.  I knew we weren’t going far today, so although I did my best to move things along, I made a point of doing so in an unhurried way.  Clare knows how to bring the boat in to one side of the lock, and their driver seemed to know what he was doing as he came in alongside.

Narrowboats in a lock.  Two narrowboats side-by-side in a canal lock.  The gunwales are almost level with the grass at the side of the lock.  Crew at the stern of both boats are in full sunshine, but the canal behind is in the shade of overhanging trees.
Clare, Bartimaeus and Friends Descending Norton Lock Flight

We reached the bottom of the flight at a perfect time for lunch.  I knew there was a cafe at Whilton Marina but we’d never managed to be there when it was open.  We now know they serve excellent all-day breakfasts, ideal after a morning spent locking.

The day continued to heat up so we decided not to move on this afternoon.  The threatened thunderstorms didn’t materialise, but going for a stroll didn’t appeal.  I started investigating various jobs that I could do inside, but I wasn’t looking for anything very energetic.  We continue to get unreliable readings from the sensor in the waste tank.  I knew the tank and its sensor were under our bed, so I decided to see if I could locate it.  After taking the mattress off and peering in all the cut-outs that revealed, I realised it might be under one of the drawers.  I knew the drawer would come out if opened fully and lifted at the front – with Clare’s help that was easily done.

That revealed another cut-out with waste tank sensor written on it.  Once that was lifted out I could see the unit.  It had five bolts that were reluctant to turn, but came out.  Under the cover was a box of electronic tricks, but I didn’t know what I needed to do next.

Tank sensor.  A circular circuit board with a cable bringing three wires to it.  The board has five holes for bolts around its circumference, and several labels on it.
Tank Sensor with Cover Removed

I checked the folder supplied by Ortomarine and was able to identify that this was a TS1 ultrasonic tank sensor made by BEP Marine (other tank sensors are available).  Online, I found documentation on installing the unit – the five screws I had removed were the only fittings.  Armed with this knowledge I applied some gentle leverage and the sensor came out in my hand.

Removing sensor.  A man is lying on his side with his arms under a high-sided bed.  One of the large under-bed drawers has been lifted up on to the bed allowing access underneath.
Undoing the Bolts Holding the Tank Sensor

I plugged the opening with some toilet paper I had prepared in advance.  The underside of the sensor was, as we had guessed, covered with residue.  Fortunately, the residue was crystalline and came off when rubbed with some more toilet paper.  I reseated the cleaned sensor and tightened the bolts again.  Having read the manual I knew not to overtighten them.

On checking the control panel I could see that the reading had gone up from earlier.  I was pleased to see that the reading was now around the level I had expected from the graph of levels over the last thirty days.  It shows several flat sections – a mixture of misbehaving sensor and the time we were away in Edinburgh.  I’m hoping that in the coming days we will see the typical gradual rise.  That should soon prompt the reading to display in yellow to warn us that we need to consider where we will get the tank emptied.

Tank level graph.  A graph showing the values reported by the tanks sensor.  There are several sections showing a gradual rise with other sections almost level.
Reported Tank Levels Over Thirty Days

Today was a day for knowing your shit – so much better than knowing you’re shit!

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