Our boat Adventurer is untethered and floating free in the canal, I am on the bank, for the moment a spectator while Vanessa tries to get the forward mooring line to me, I see that she has a coil of the rope dangerously close to her feet as she walks the narrow walkway toward the stern to throw the rope. They say that life on a boat has a much slower pacer until something happens, and then time races.
We have three batteries on board, one to start the engine and two for domestic use, this is the norm and actually labelled this way in the battery compartment. The engine battery is not connected so that it can be used for domestic usage, this is the way of it on many boats and I assumed on ours too, oh dear, wrong again. On Tuesday we’d been on the cut for three days, unfortunately three cloudy days wherein the solar cells have been unable to collect any power. I figured that if we are to stay out here for a while longer we’d better start the engine and let it run for an hour or so to charge them up. Good idea, except the engine didn’t start, the starter battery, the one that is specifically there for starting the engine, was as good as flat! The first thing that went through my head was, how the Hell are we going to bump start this beast?¿!
I’ve been toying with the idea of messing around with the solar panels for ages, the writer of a blog I follow has his panels on a see saw frame so that he can aim his toward the sun and collect more rays when the sun is low in the sky. I have also listened to people that say that doing this does not harvest any more rays than if the panels are flat, while listening I have in the back of my mind pictures of the huge solar farms dotted around the globe whose panels follow the sun on pivots, as usual who is right and who isn’t. With three flat batteries and no power source close by, I needed to get them recharged asap, I figured to tilt our panels to give us the maximum harvest, but first, Vanessa had a better idea. We were moored in the shade of some trees, Vee thought to move us about 20 metres out of the shade and thus getting more hours of sunlight. I really didn’t like this idea, moving a boat (on a windy day) with no engine power is in my opinion just asking for trouble, especially when you add the newbie factor to the equation. Vee made a good argument though and we untied the ropes and, with me on the bank and Vanessa on board, I gently pulled Adventurer out of the shade of the trees. It was really easy and I wondered what my issue with this idea was?¿! Once we were out of the shade I pulled the boat’s arse in to the bank. There’s a funny thing that happens with boats when you move one end, the other end does the opposite, and so now Adventurer’s bow is moving toward the centre of the canal. I started to hammer her stern mooring pin into the ground while getting Vee to get the bowline ready to throw to me, meanwhile Adventurer is rapidly approaching a 90º angle to the bank, I drop the pin and release the rope to move toward where the bow should be so that I can bring the front in, realising now that Vee may not be able to throw that far, and if there is even enough rope to reach me, meanwhile the – now free – stern starts wandering away from the bank. We are both getting flustered and I see that while collecting the rope up, Vee has let some loose and is in danger of getting her foot caught up in it. “STOP and relax”, this I shout for both of us, and then time seems to return to a normal setting, weird! Vee safely collects the rope up, moves toward the back of the boat and passes it to me, I then gently pull the front toward the bank and then collect up the rear line and hammer the pin into the ground while Vee, as soon as she is near the bank, jumps to secure the bow. All this in the space of about two minutes. We did okay, it wasn’t the stupidest thing we’ve done, if a boat had been coming it might have been different, but all is well…..
What those people said about not harvesting more sunlight by tilting your solar panels, bullshit. We were collecting 3.6 amps and then we shot up to 4.8 amps once I’d made the tilt, I make that a 33% increase, so now plans are being drawn for our own solar panel tilty thing. If you build it, you’ll get more sun.
I don’t know what the deal is with our batteries, for the now we are just happy that we have a few sunny days to top the batteries right up to 100%. We are in no rush to start the engine, we are however grateful that this happened now and not later when the clouds will cover the sky for weeks at a time. As for the why the starter battery ran down, I haven’t a clue and I’m going to leave it for Future Spike and Vanessa to suss out.