Monday, 27 March 2017

First World Problem

After we blogged about how to charge the electric toothbrushes, one of our readers gently pointed out that this was hardly a real problem. And we had to agree.

These stupid little annoyances that we spend an unreasonable amount of time trying to solve are trivial when compared with destitution, war, famine.

OK so we are spoiled, but we have now sought and found a solution to another issue that the previous owner had inadvertently pointed out when she sold us the boat. She said that she just hadn't been able to 'get comfortable' and had tried various furniture configurations but nothing 'felt right' when she came to sit down and watch TV.

The problem is a perennial narrow boat issue in that all the furniture tends to be laid out down the edges of the boat to provide for a passage way from front to back.

We too found ourselves uncomfortable, especially on the winter cruising trip when we realised that the sofa (generously proportioned and very comfortable) faced away from the fire and the TV. Often when we sat down, we couldn't see if or when the fire needed attention.

So we took a risk and replaced our lovely three seater white leather sofa with what is euphemistically called 'a snuggler' that could be turned to face the fire. This snuggler is not big enough to qualify as a two seater but bigger than a chair and technically roomy enough for two, that is if you don't mind a certain amount of intimacy. Placed across the boat it doesn't protrude any more than the fixed seating and dinette.

This weekend we trialled this solution and it seemed surprisingly comfy especially with the aid of a glass of wine and footstool. We are now positioned in apposition to the stove and the TV. What we hadn't reckoned on was the fact that Jones would need to get in on the act. He did manage to squeeze in between us in about a two inch gap and slept that way for most of the evening.

Our other triumph is the modernist style log unit/drinks shelf. We designed this and Captain fashioned it out of new French oak floorboards. We have managed to get rid of all the fuel and clutter that barred the way to the stove and looked a mess. Logs are drying out nicely under the gunwales and coal, sticks and firelighters are in the step.

We had Mothers' Day visitors including the real Princess Lucy, who came to do more even more spoiling of the first mate To accommodate them, we simply turned the rug - with the sofa on it - through 90 degrees to put the snuggler back against the wall. So it is now a boat that is very comfy for two (and a Jones) and quite comfortable for entertaining up to six.

Captain's next tricks include painting the front cratch timbers and the installation of a stench pipe!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Boat Solution Number 539 Remote Controlled Heating

We don't live on our boat but are fully committed to using it all year round. We have always done this since we bought our first boat Princess Lucy and decided that we needed to get year long adventures from her. We are not unique in this respect but quite unusual. For good reason, many of our marina neighbours simply winterize their boats and ignore them from September to late Spring. That just won't do for us. We go away for Christmas and Easter and have weekends in between. So boat problem number 539 is how to arrive to a boat that is warm and inviting on a foul winter's day. On a freezing day, it can take several hours to bring the boat up to a nice temperature. So what to do?

We may just have cracked it.  After talking about it for a  year or two, and researching what is available, and fathoming the wiring, it is finally installed and working.

We can now text the boat and command the central heating to turn on, or turn off and we can interrogate the inside temperature too. The system also has "inputs" to it so that if the heating is turned on by, say, the frost thermostat, we will receive a text alert then. There are a few other things too.

For those interested it is called EZTEXT. It is manufactured and sold by RF Solutions and also sold by Maplins and others.

The main benefit, apart from the sheer fun of it, oh and showing off in the pub, is that we can arrive to a cosy boat and lots of hot water.

If anyone wants to know more - I am happy to supply diagrams and so on.

We are though rather troubled by the name EZTEXT. Why can't it be called Donald or Rupert or Daphne? Something that trips of the tongue a little easier and sounds friendly would be so much better.

We will think of something I'm sure. Coming up next is boat solution number 540. Seating.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

USB Toothbrush: The Future

We have long been fans of the electric toothbrush. At home we have rechargeable ones that we are very happy with. On the boat we fitted the same ones (Oral B).

The only downside was that when cruising, away from our shore power, we needed the mains inverter on for a few hours every now and then.

All was well at first and we enjoyed a good few weeks in the summer with charged up toothbrushes. But on our Christmas jaunt. Something failed: the toothbrushes stopped charging. A quick search on the Canal World forum suggested that toothbrush chargers will eventually fry when connected via  a Modified Sine Wave Inverter.

What followed was lots of walks with the dog where I could discuss the problem. Jonesey and I both agreed that podding out the hundreds of pounds for a Pure Sine Wave Inverter was not really justifiable. I also explained to Jonesy that I didn't fancy going back to a  manual toothbrush. This was when Jonesy suggested we copied his daily oral care routine, which is a bedtime Dentastix chew.

I don't know if you have tried one, but I haven't. And I intend it to remain in the list of things in life that I don't ever experience.

We initially gave battery powered toothbrushes a go, but we didn't get on with them. Then we hit on the Colgate "ProClinical Pocket-Pro" which is a USB rechargeable toothbrush,

Brilliant! No inverter needed, no swapping of batteries, no flat toothbrushes ever.  This is now fitted in the bathroom and permanently connected via (yet another) USB charging point.

Captain has tried it over a couple of days and gave it the thumbs up. It seems quite powerful - but we'll see how we get on during some longer trips this year.