Power has been restored
Well, that was a long two weeks.
We have finally had a new main alternator installed, which is delivering full charging capacity to our battery bank and life returns to normal, including the use of my rather power hungry laptop.
Its been an interesting period during which we had to implement some severe power saving measures, but relying on solar power alone certainly put the system to the test and highlighted the benefits and limitations of solar. Put simply, with it we were able to continue whereas without it we would probably have to have left the boat.
The two big energy consumers are the 12v fridge and the 32ltr 12v freezer, and as soon as we lost the alternator we gave up on the fridge and accepted that we would have to live with foods which could exist at ambient temperatures. A little challenging but still possible. However, we did want to keep the freezer running on account of all the food we had stored in it. We managed ok for a week with the solar panels just about keeping up in spite of rather cloudy conditions. The unit only uses about 25 amp hours a day which can be collected in two hours of bright sunshine, but then we need some more to power the lights and pumps so really we are looking for 40 amp hours which is ok on sunny days but not so achievable during day after day of rain with no sunny spells. I know that this all sounds a bit like Apollo 13 but when power is in short supply you start to consider everything in terms of amp hours used.
We managed to trade at Cosgrove two weeks ago, achieving a very good level of sales in between trips back and forth to Aldridge when stock was made, new glass delivered and most importantly, a new grandson born. Then it was back to the boat for a two day journey south to Linslade. During the journey we ran the generator in the butty and, via a trickle charger and a bit of sunlight, managed to get some life into the batteries. But then we stopped, the sun went in and the pumps ground to a stop.
Sandra and Barry came to the rescue and fired up their unused freezer allowing us to turn ours off. Almost immediately our battery levels started to rise and by the end of the event they were topped up to maximum. And so the story should have have had a happy ending - but alas, no.
RCR fitted our new alternator on Tuesday morning and as soon as Dan and Becky had joined us we set off to the Globe pub to pick up the frozen food. Barry opened the freezer and discovered that at some point the freezer had stopped and everything had thawed out after all. They have been having trouble with their cooling system and its likely that the battery levels dropped and the freezer cut out, but who knows.No matter, these things happen.
We are now in Fenny Stratford and were planning to trade at their small canal festival at the weekend. However, the long haul up from London and two very busy weekends in a row have taken their toll on Helen, who is still recovering from her treatment. We have therefore decided to skip Fenny Stratford and instead make a slow run to next weekend's festival in Blisworth, making lots of Blackberry Wine and Cherry Plum Jam as we travel.