Returning back to Black Prince

If you have been reading our blog you will know we had a little problem with the paint on the roof, we purchased the boat from Black Prince only a few weeks ago, they have looked at the peeling paint and are going to repair it.

Paint Problems on roof
Paint Problems on roof

It is an odd problem, looks to me, a non-expert, like some surface contamination under the primer as caused it to lose adhesion, I have seen similar problems this caused by the oil used to lubricate the air tools used when removing the old paint.


Worcester to Stoke Prior

We have been on a trip to Worcester and are going to drop the boat off at their base in Stoke Prior before we set off home.

We broke the trip up this time, turning around at Diglis Basin just in front of the Diglis Lock, we had decided to try and get past all the locks and then rest up  for the night just after the M5 bridge at Tibberton, we would then have a simple trip to our mooring at Droitwich Spa Marina the next day, before heading off on the Saturday to the Black Prince Base at Stoke Prior.

Sonia and Obi the dog collected the car from the marina and drove to Stoke Prior while Mary and I moved the boat. Once Sonia had arrived at Stoke Prior, she let them know we were coming and check where they would like us to moor before walking down the canal to meet us.

The trip took us just under 3 hours at a leisurely pace,  with just the 3 locks at the top of the Droitwich Canal and then 7 on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. We finally arrived and moored up next to another Black Prince customer boat, “Pub Trawler II” which was known as Ava when she was a hire boat.

We have since heard that they will completely strip the roof and repaint it, should be ready in a couple of weeks. Furthermore, we are hoping to get a battery monitor fitted while she is with them. I have selected the Victron BMV-712 as I can talk to this via the onboard monitoring system I am developing (More on this later).

To Worcester the slow way

The Droitwich Junction Canal

Our trip this week was to Worcester to meet an old friend. So, once we are out of the marina, we turned right towards the Hanbury locks 1 to 3. Restoration of them was completed in 2002 and a sign can be seen on the locks dedicating the restoration to Neil Pitts.

These 3 locks are often manned by very helpful CRT volunteers, as locks go they can be a bit confusing, if you have not seen locks with a side pounds before.

The side pounds are used when the locks are emptied to hold half the water by opening some extra paddles that can be found halfway along the lock. Once they are filled, these extra paddles are closed and the rest of the water is emptied in the normal way downstream.  The water in the side pound is then used to refill the lock when needed, saving half the water.

Floydtilla on the way to Gloucester
Floydtilla on the way to Gloucester

The Worcester and Birmingham Canal

Then we turned a very tight left turn onto the Worcester and Birmingham Canal towards Worcester. Sonia then took over the helm, and we then have a leisurely potter for just over a mile to the Dunhampstead Tunnel which at just  216 m long was a nice cool down from the baking sun. Then another couple of miles to the M5 bridge at Tibberton before we descend the short 6 lock Tibberton flight, locks 16 to 11.

City of Worcester Sign under A449
City of Worcester Sign under A449
We pass under the A449 and passing a stone sign marking the outskirts of the City of Worcester.

We then continue our descent to Worcester through:-

  • Tolladine Lock 10
  • Blackpole Lock 9
  • Bilford Locks 8 & 7
  • Gregory’s Mill Top Lock 6
  • Gregory’s Mill Bottom Lock 5
  • Block House Lock 4
  • Sidbury Lock 3

City Centre Mooring

We decided to moor on the 48-hour moorings just before Mill Street Bridge. This trip had taken us just about seven and a half hours, or about 30 minutes in the car. We then had a short walk into the city where we found The Burger Bar Five Guys in Cathedral Square. We tried, in vain, to empty the bottomless drinks machine, before going on the search for an Aloe Vera cream and some factor 50 sun block. It had been a very hot day.

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.


Teething problems and quick response

Floydtilla in our mooring
Floydtilla in our mooring

When we dropped Floydtilla at Droitwich Spa Marina last week, we had a little problem with using the marina power to charge the batteries. We did not have time to investigate then, so we left it all plugged in and hoped for the best.

Mary (daughter) and I decided to take a quick trip up this weekend, so I could investigate and she could decorate her bedroom area with some pictures.

I emailed Black Prince when we arrived and found the leisure batteries to be flat. I did not expect such a fast response but within an hour I had an answer and a visit was planned for the next day.  In the meantime as we had not arrived that late, I charged the batteries with the engine.

The next day we had a phone call, and Black Prince agents arrived within 15 minutes to take a look. A quick diagnosis was made,  the inverter was working, but the part that charges the batteries was not, a replacement would be ordered and fitted as soon as possible (We are lucky we are relatively close to their base, I was worried it was an 1D10T operator error, so I was a little relieved).

We also had a couple of paint issues, on the side, where the boat had been lifted, we had a couple of holes in the paintwork.

Holes from boat lift
Holes from boat lift

We also noticed that when the hatch was closed a patch of the roof paint had started to flake off. We had not noticed this when we collected her, as most of the time the hatch was open and only closed when we were inside or leaving in the rain.

Rust and flaking paint on roof
Rust and flaking paint on roof

These paint problems have been referred to Black Prince, I will be interested to see how they fix these. I imagine there must have been some surface contamination under the hatch lid, as there are no other problems we could find on the roof.

UPDATE 14/05/2021

Very quick response from Black Prince, they will repair the paintwork, we hope to drop Floydtilla off at the end of the next trip on the boat.