Thursday, 4 July 2013

Solar Power - nearly, weed and other frustrations

Last weekend was the weekend earmarked for completion of the solar panel installation. Of course not everything went according to plan. I arrived on Saturday morning at about 0900.  Mick was due to follow on later that afternoon. Only 3 weeks had passed since my last visit and so I was very disappointed to see a noticeable growth of weed and slime on the very expensive Verometal anti-fouling. I spent an hour in the dinghy with a broom trying to remove the offending material within reach. It did seem to come off reasonably readily and I hope the act of brushing would help to activate the copper. Time will tell.

It was a gorgeous summer day which came as something of a surprise despite being the 1st of July.



First job was to fashion the plywood base for the solar panel - this was to be fixed onto the hatch cover. Within a couple of hours the task was done and two coats of wet epoxy applied to protect it.

During this process I realised I did not have my phone and hoped it was in the car and not at home. That would make liaising with Mick somewhat difficult. I needed to visit the Chandlers to pick up the U bend for the loo and so once the tide had risen enough to allow a direct line into the marina I rowed ashore. Thankfully the phone was in the car. Back on board I wasted a couple of hours trying to repair the draining board.


After a couple of pathetic attempts I gave up and decided to email the measurements to Bernie who is a bit of a joiner buff.

By this time though the plywood mounting board for the solar panel was sufficiently dry to install. An hour or so later the panel was mounted.


That grubby splodge in the foreground is a very worn out folded spray hood. I had hoped to have it replaced by now but.....

Mick was delayed by his family commitments and decided to come down the following morning. I was to go ashore to collect him from Strood station at 0919. This would give us enough time - just, to get back to the boat before the tide dropped too far.

Next morning just before I was about to row ashore he was on the phone - trouble on the trains. Suffice to say he had a nightmare journey and instead of rowing ashore I motored up to Chatham and picked him up from their waiting pontoon.

Back on the mooring and down to work. Mick confidently predicted the solar panel would be connected before lunch. It wasn't. The first rule of boat maintenance is that however long you think it will take to do any particular job, it will always take you 10 times longer - even when you have made allowances for rule 1! The final frustration was my 12v soldering iron was not powerful enough to solder the cable connectors. Later we thought we had a chance when Howard tied up alongside and out came his mains soldering iron driven by his inverter. However, even that was not up to the job. Very annoyingly we had no choice but to postpone completion to the following weekend. I have subsequently bought a gas powered iron at not inconsiderable expense. I hope it  is up to the job.

Meantime I was working on the less technically challenging job of fitting the new U bend on the loo. Success. Until that is I did the pressure test (shut the outlet and pumped the loo) where upon the bloody pipe suddenly sprang a new leak. It appears that the previous application of steam to fit the pipe had weakened it as the leak was at a point where the pipe stretched over the skin fitting. Out came the self amalgamating tape and a temporary repair was affected. Back home I ordered more pipe at £10 a meter only to find it was out of stock and will have to wait 7-10 days.

Another job I had planned to do was fit my shiny new Barometer and Clock (the latter a gift from a grateful customer) but I left the bloody things at home. I was however able to shape and varnish a handsome piece of mahogany (an old draw bottom) that my mate Tony gave me a couple of years ago when I still had my wooden Folkboat and collected such things like my life depended on them - which I suppose it may have done whilst I still had the Folkboat!

Finally on the topic of frustrations there are two ongoing; one is trying to finalise accommodation for the family so we can meet up with them in Plymouth over the weekend of 27/28 July. Currently waiting for confirmation from Rupert that he can accommodate them at the Basket Factory (strange name look forward to finding out more) near  Weir Quay Boatyard on the Tamar (which looks like a delightful spot) where we plan to park up for the weekend. Fingers crossed. The second, is the delay to the delivery of my new sails. They should have been ready weeks ago. The continued delay in getting the boat ready meant I had not been too concerned until now but today I received an email from the sail maker that made me doubt whether they would ever arrive. The latest commitment from them is that they will be dispatched next Wednesday which will give me time to fit them before the weekend of our departure on 20/7 for (maybe) Ireland via Plymouth. Once again my fingers are crossed.

We did manage to complete the installation of the new wind speed instrument so the weekend was not a total failure.