It's those tiny little sparks

We took a leisurely morning today, granting me my first lie-in since the crossing last weekend. So naturally my eyes popped open at 9:30 as I remembered today was Glastonbury tickets day. It’s one thing to lose half your lie-in, but quite another to lose it to the busy signal on your mobile two hundred times in ninety minutes. It seems we got there in the end though. Hopefully by June Hendrik will be liveable enough that the camping won’t feel like an upgrade.

At about 2:30 we rocked up at the mooring and initially my worst fears seemed to be confirmed – not only was the power off when we were in the mud, but the circuit breaker on the collar barge had been tripped too. That’s a pain because we’d have to clamber out onto the collar barge every time we wanted to restart the power, but there’s more. The batteries charge off shore power, so if it needs to be manually restarted each tide cycle, we run the risk of draining the batteries every time we’re away for more than a couple of days. I had been hoping it was a simple Earth leak which would knock out our power but not trip the breaker, so that at least when we refloat on the tide everything comes back on of its own accord.

I tried to put that all at the back of my mind to bother Stefan with later in the week, and had a beer on deck instead. Sitting on our boat with the sun on our backs was a much-needed reminder that Hendrik is a home, not an obligation. However troublesome the renovations get we need to remember to take time out and appreciate what we’re aiming for. We’ll burn out fast otherwise, and when I hear the Channel 4 Generic Programme Disaster Guitar Twang and Kevin McCloud talking in sympathetic but slightly patronising tones in my head, I’d rather it was something outside our control. TWANG “But nobody could have predicted the meteorite…” type of thing.

As it turns out something else completely unpredictable seems to be our shore power failure. While we were making our cream tea – delicious, and sorely under-attended by persons who shall remain nameless – the power tripped out again, despite Hendrik being quite definitely afloat. Later we took a walk along the South Bank as far as County Hall (or as non-Londoners now know it, The London Eye) and when we returned at low tide the breaker was still in the on position and there was power on board, despite the 15 degree cant from sitting on the river bed. So my hypothesis has changed from a Earth leak to either the bilge water shorting something out or an appliance causing a momentary spike. There’s a lot of water in the bilge still from the crossing which needs to be pumped out when conditions allow, but then half of our electrical devices are plugged in through UK-EU adaptors which could be shifting in the socket and spiking. Or it could be the superannuated ceramic fuse box or the inverter on the mains side (the genny comes through a modern RCD – “eccentric” is how Stefan the skipper describes our electrical layout).

It’s even possible – sorry Melissa – that my work on the cable really was as shoddy as I think it was and it needs redoing properly with a better socket housing on the hull and properly crimped connectors in the plugs themselves. I hope this isn’t the case though as my idea of a fun time involves a lot more PS2 and a lot less dealing with armoured cable. Armoured cable is horrid to work with, and doubly so when you’re trying to keep it under control in the dark on a moving boat with your whole right hand side still sprained from the crossing. But the crossing is a story for another time.

- posted by James O'Brien on 1 April 2007, 23:00 in