Boat work and around and about in Droitwich

We have come up to the boat for a few days, I have some boat work to complete, we are fitting a battery monitor, but more on that in a later post as I also wanted to touch up the paint from the few scrapes we have had over the summer.

Battery Monitor Display
Battery Monitor Display

While I have worked on the boat Sonia and Mary have been on a trip by train to Birmingham New Street Station and the Bull Ring Shopping centre, for both of them on the train was about £12.50 off peak return, much simpler than driving and trying to find parking.

Droitwich Lido
Droitwich Lido

They also tried the Droitwich Lido an open air pool, which is a rarity these days, when I was young we had one in Camberley, but it was very run down and soon closed, but it seems the Droitwich Lido is a bit of a find, very clean and tidy, I am sure we will be back and bringing the grand kids.

My thanks also goes to the very helpful Facebook group “Droitwich Spa Marina Friendly Forum“. A quick post as I needed a hole cutter, and within the hour I had two offers of one on loan. Thanks to the owners of NB Cedrik, it was a tool my wife was very pleased I did not have to buy.

Repainted Roof

Today we went to collect Floydtilla from Black Prince at Stoke Prior, she had been returned to them to have a problem with the roof paint fixed, from what we can see they have stripped off the old paint and reapplied the primer and yellow topcoat, it now all looks beautifully smooth.

New roof paint

We had a lovely sunny day for our trip back to Droitwich Spa Marina, the only problem was the wind whipping across the marina, which made the slab sided canal boat into a sailing pushing us sideways when we tried to approach our mooring, after two attempts going up wind and turning, we decided to reversed past out berth and tried going downwind which made things a lot simpler. We are learning all the time.

Inverter/charger Update

We had a problem with the inverter/charger when plugged into the marina mains supply. It would not switch over to charging the batteries, we had reported this to Black Prince, and they said they would sort it.

The old inverter was replaced, and we still had the same problem, back at their base they tested the old inverter, and it worked without a problem.

One possible thing that could be causing this is an over voltage on the marina supply,  the Photonic Universal 3000W unit maxing out at approx. 263V. Normal UK supply used to be 240V, but I believe in 1987 we have harmonised with the rest of Europe at 230V +/- 10%  (which therefore includes our UK 240V) with a theoretical max of 253V.

Sterling ProCombi S
Sterling ProCombi S 3500W Inverter/Charger

The next step they replaced the Photonic Universal 3000W unit  with a Sterling PCS123500 unit, this gives us a slightly higher max output to 3500W but also accepts a higher shoreline input voltage of up to 270V.

All the work in now completed, and we will see in the next few days if this has been a success. We have only had excellent service from Black Prince on any problems we have had, there will always be problems, that is to be expected. It is how well they are dealt with that makes the difference.


WIFI on a canal boat

Wi-Fi have been researching how to add Wi-Fi on a canal boat for a while, I have started designing a system for monitoring the system onboard so that I can remotely monitor and warn me when things need attention.

But before that can start I needed to add a reliable network on the board, that can offer both WI-FI and cable networking. In my background I had been part of a team that developed an optical fibre network where we created our own wall plate network interfaces and an Ethernet switch that could work with both Plastic Optical Fibre (POF) and copper (CAT5/6) networks. Hopefully this would not be rocket science.

Huawei B311

Huawei B311 2020
Huawei B311 2020

Having read up on what was available I found a few devices that looked like they would be a starting point, and I selected the Huawei B311 as my first choice, it is a very low-cost option for what it offers. I expect I will upgrade this as time goes on, but it will get me started.

This would hopefully give me WI-FI throughout the interior of the hull.

The unit comes with a 240V to 12V mains power adapter, so should be no problem adapting this to run on the boats 12v supply.

I expect we will need an external antenna at some point to get a good signal due to the steel construction of the hull, but we will see, at present our phones seem to work very well inside the boat.


Next we needed to find a data SIM that does not cost the earth, I tried the comparison sites  but they all the options seemed expensive it was then recommended I look at GiffGaff (on the O2 network),  who at the time offered 100 GB for £20 per month and SMARTY (on the 3 network) who had an unlimited plan for the same price, both would be completely adequate for our peak usage in the summer, with my daughter streaming films at one end of the boat and us doing the same at the other (it is not like that all the time, but you do need to cover the possibility of a wet summer in the UK).

I ended up selecting SMARTY as they also had a much cheaper smaller tariff that I will switch over to in the winter when I plan to just monitor the boat remotely.

Future Plans

This is stage one of the plan, I have in development low power remote sensors to monitor onboard systems and GPS with a movement alarm that will detect unauthorised movement. The onboard systems will send SMS messages in case of problems, else everything can be monitored by and web interface.