We’ve owned Bartimaeus for over a year now, but we didn’t start cruising until Clare retired in July. I had fancied cruising in May and June, so it is great to be able to get back to doing just that. On our way back from the shop yesterday morning, I got a phone call from the chandlery and went to pick up the battery charger. We had a quick lunch before setting off down the canal in search of better phone signal. Even listening to the radio was tricky the previous night, and I had a chat with former colleagues scheduled.
Although many things are very familiar now, things are a lot different from when we last drove the boat at the end of February. Driving along with the rear doors and hatch open had become a distant memory, but still seemed perfectly natural this week. When we started cruising last summer, we did long days very often – we were enjoying the novelty, and it was our previous habit on a narrowboat. This time we have enjoyed going just far enough for the day’s purpose – a pleasant mooring with reasonable connectivity.
It wasn’t long before we had reached – and passed under – the railway bridge that had been closed before Easter. We were now exploring a bit of canal that was only added to the itinerary because we had diverted to Burton-on-Trent. It is a very pretty section with wide and deep locks at irregular intervals.
There are a number of small improvements that have been made while we were away. When Rob visited to replace the joystick, he also fitted the stirrup step on the starboard bow. This meant that when I decided to clean the muck off the solar panels, I was able to climb on to the roof from the towpath side instead of crossing to the wet side. Rob also left behind a magnetic TV aerial. This allows us to have a slick uncluttered roof most of the time, but on the rare occasions when we want to watch terrestrial TV, we can. We joined last year in the last week of the Tour de France, which I managed to follow using my laptop. This is the last week of the Giro d’Italia, so the TV aerial has arrived just in time – we haven’t missed it thus far.
Another item we didn’t have last summer was tripod feet for the dinette tables. Now that we have these and suitable weather we have had a number of meals on the stern deck, enjoying the sights and sounds of our mooring spot.
I put the flat battery out on the bow deck and connected the battery charger. After an initial trickle, it charged at a steady 7 A (the maximum the charger can deliver) for the rest of the day and night and all this morning. By lunchtime, the charger was reporting that it had pushed over 120 Ah in to the battery – rated at 110 Ah – and that it was now fully charged. Those numbers seemed promising enough, so after lunch, we put the battery alongside the other for the bow thruster and connected it up. And the bow thruster works!
We pressed on a little further, partly hoping for a slightly better mooring location, but also to enjoy cruising with a bow thruster again. We came along a section of canal I remember from previous holidays with an ambiguous sign between the road and the canal. In the past I wondered what to do about it, now I think a quick burst of bow thruster may be the answer,
We did find a more open mooring spot. One of the things that hasn’t changed is interesting sunsets.