Sunday, 6 October 2019

Not good after all

Turns out we were living in false hope and the lump is malignant, so no further work on the design for the time being. If you want to, you can read all about it on the other blog.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Quick catch up

As I’ve just said over on t’other blog, a change of probable diagnosis to something much more hopeful means we’ve started to think about the design of OMDB again. In particular, the review of Shine in the September Canal Boat raises the issue of the drive system again. We would prefer a serial hybrid where a battery bank, charged from a variety of sources including a generator, drives an electric motor to turn the prop shaft directly. That’s instead of the currently more popular parallel system where either the electric motor or a diesel engine can drive the shaft.

Serial systems are simpler to set up and maintain, but until now there’s not been a drop-in system available and James (for good reasons) doesn't want to have a one off design. Mothership Marine now appear to be offering just such a system. The review also describes the lead carbon battery bank, creating an alternative to the lithiums we were planning. PbCs have some advantages over LiPo4s, but are much bulkier, it looks like.

It’s all stuff to chat to Jam about when we see him in September. Elanor is driving us up to Poynton and staying with us for the Owners’ Weekend in a house we’re renting via Airbnb.

Friday, 17 May 2019

A pause in changed circumstances

I’ve just posted over on the other blog about the bombshell diagnosis of a tumour on my pancreas. We’ll still be proceeding with OMDB (or Sheila will at least) but for now we’re not doing any further planning. I’ll be publishing updates from the frontline of the battle on Living in Sanity Again.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

The bathroom

We’d not planned any major changes from the cross bathrooms we’ve had in Sanity and Sanity Again, but the thought of an incinerating toilet is intriguing. So first, the straightforward stuff – heated towel rail, standard washbasin, large shower enclosure, airing cupboard warmed by a bit of finrad in the engine coolant circuit at the bottom. Exactly where the entry/exit doors will be positioned we’ve yet to work out. Sometime in the next couple of months we need to sit down with a sheet of graph paper and sketch some layouts to discuss with Jam Attwood. 

The big question is the toilet. For us, both a composting toilet and a cassette are definitely out. Composters are an interesting idea for a country cottage or cabin in the woods, but we really don’t like the implications on a boat. It’s noticeable that some marinas are banning them because of the bags of partially “composted” (ie rotting) solids that end up in the rubbish skips. Cassettes are great for an occasional use boat, but not for extended cruising as far as we are concerned.

The new kid on the block is the incinerator toilet. These can be gas fired or electric. Used as designed, a gas fired one will work out quite expensive to run. It burns 100g of gas per incineration, so if you burn every time you use it, we reckon you would get through 13kg of propane, £35 at present prices, in less than a fortnight. There’s an interesting review in the May 2019 edition of Canal Boat of an Aqualine boat with such a loo. The owners plan on burning just two or three times per day, thus getting much more time out of the gas cylinder.

We are planning on a gas free boat this time as part of the low effort plan, but we’re going to explore the possibilities of the electric one (the original design) being powered from the lithium battery bank. The power draw is the same as a medium ring on the induction hob, but for 45 minutes. If it’s feasible, it has big possibilities. You need to buy the special paper liners for each use, but emptying the loo consists of removing an ash tray full of ash once a fortnight.

I’ll be reporting back on this after Crick. If it doesn’t look feasible, we’ll go pump out again, a tried and tested technology we’re very familiar with.

Next time, the bedroom.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

The Galley

This is where I’m really going to feel the effect of a much shorter boat. Sanity Again has an award winning galley, unusually long with a great example of the Braidbar Welsh dresser on one side, no less than four drawers wide with cupboards under. The other side has a Samsung Staron worktop, double sink and cooker and fridge. 

In OMDB, we need to fit in a washing machine, but won’t have a gas cooker. Instead, there’ll be an induction hob and I’m seriously contemplating going for a microwave/oven/grill combi. Apart from the month we’re not allowed to stay in the lodge from mid-January to mid-February, we won’t be living on board in the winter, so the cooking requirements will be much simpler, more salads, fewer soups and stews. In addition, one of my main reasons for using  the oven on SA is because it’s so hard to do a really slow simmer over a propane flame. I’m hoping the induction hob will go lower than that.

Obviously, storage is going to be the main challenge, but once more the fact that we are no longer full time liveaboards will help. I still want a dresser – it won’t feel like a Braidbar without one – but we’re a bit undecided about the other worktop. Possibly Staron or similar again, but maybe quartz? Certainly not granite, far too much effort to maintain. It’ll be a single sink with drainer unless the worktop is thick enough to rout drainage channels.

The one thing that seriously dissatisfies me with the current set up is the fridge. It’s a perfectly respectable Shoreline, but just too small. I wanted a slightly larger one but when we were building SA, Peter Mason persuaded me to go smaller so that it would fit under the worktop. This time, I’m determined to have a taller one with more than a shoebox sized frozen food compartment. It’s one of the things to check out over the next couple of years. On Sanity, we had a socking great Zanussi fridge freezer with side by side compartments. I could freeze enough meat for a month but it was sooo power hungry that, even with a TravelPower AC generator, we had to run the engine for four hours every day to keep the batteries charged. Of course, the lithium batteries change all that, too, but there still won’t be room for such a big beast.

Next time, the bathroom.

Monday, 4 February 2019

The saloon

There’s a lot of thinking to be done about the saloon. Losing 20’ from our present 70 means more than just eliminating two compartments. Including bulkheads, dropping the dinette gains us about 6’ 4” and a similar amount for the study bedroom. That leaves a bit over 7’ to find. The shorter bow and well deck will account for a bit, maybe two feet, and another two from the engine room if we put the washing machine in the galley. The bathroom is already pretty short, so the saloon and galley between them are going to have to lose around three feet. 

Sanity Again has a very long saloon, but we can’t give up much more than another couple of feet, I suspect. Note that all this is still very rough thinking – we’re a long way off drawing detailed plans. 

First off, a word about the linings. We really like what we have on SA, which is panelling on the walls and t&g on the ceiling (or deck head if you’re being technical). We’re thinking of Karndean type vinyl wood flooring and maybe plain white painted panels instead of the t&g. The oiled oak floor and the t&g between them reduce the headroom a bit, it has to be said. Mainly free-standing furniture again, but with a hinged table to one side with a couple of folding dining chairs to provide eating space. I don’t think we’ll need much in the way of bookshelving. We mostly read ebooks these days and watch films copied across onto the laptop from our DVD collection in the lodge.

Instead of a Squirrel solid fuel stove, we want a drip feed diesel, either the Lockgate Refleks or the Kabola. We may go for a back boiler on that, heating a couple of rads and the calorifier, thereby removing the need for a Webasto. On the other hand, that leaves us dependent on the stove for boat heating when not on a landline. On the other other hand, both the Refleks and the Kabola have an enviable reputation for reliability...

Monday, 7 January 2019

The pointy end

The bow will have to be fairly basic, no fancy josher shape this time. With a much shorter boat, the fairly bluff standard Tyler bow should work perfectly well. It means less space in the well deck, but that can’t be helped. Being gas free means that there will be storage in the forepeak, probably with a triangular lid to maximise access. We want a transverse locker again, with the same arrangement as we have on Sanity Again. That is, the deep locker for a bow thruster will be there, but without the bow thruster tube. We haven’t missed one on a 70’ boat so certainly don’t need one on 50. What we get is a good chunk of long term storage, suitable for things like the anchor and chain when not on a river, and the emergency Porta Potti.

As usual, there’ll be a stainless steel water tank under the well deck, with the filler coming up through the gunwale rather than down on the deck getting trodden on.

We’ll still want a cratch with hardwood glazed deck board and a simple cover, just a single zip and no see through panels. Not needing to heave gas cylinders in and out of the bow locker means we probably won’t need doors in the deck board.

That’s about it for the bow. Going back to the last post, we’ve pretty well decided against chromed brightwork, so it’s either stainless steel or painted.