Charged and then thrown off my boat #narrowboat #england #batteries

To add insult to injury I also today have one hand that looks like a young barrage balloon and another that looks as though I have joke knuckles fitted. I suspect that some fly or flies feasted upon me during the day. Damn flies, and damn anyone who won’t put a candle in their window and stay up all night damning flies!


Anyway, that is an incidental by the by. The past few weeks, off and on, have seen the Cardinal receiving some spring has sprung into summer attention viz an extra solar panel and some goodly interior improvingments and suchlike. Yonder “the Bro” is Chief Engineer in these matters and I am the scrofulous, medieval “Apprentice Fetchquick LiftCarry”. Wiring has been changed, a new battery has gone in up at the pointy end, many fine things have been done. Then the Cardinal’s domestic battery bank decided that it didn’t want to live any longer, and that sitting on a cloud in Battery Heaven would be preferable to sitting for any longer in the Cardinal’s engine bay.

Then my mobile wifi connection went all au contraire on me too – confusingly just as we had fitted a rinky-dinky superb new, bigger, better and betterer MiFi aerial on the top of t’boat… Email and the internet ceased to exist.

I have now experienced the symptoms of battery self-destruction. The batteries came with the Cardinal on purchase, and I have no idea of their previous history. For the past couple of years though they have had an increasingly oriental, not to say positively Japanese leaning towards the geriatric in their outlook. I can’t blame them, so have I. For a couple of days, during the activity of new and re-wiring, adding another (distant) battery system and so forth, I suspected that they were plotting something. Voltages were erotic – sorry, I mean of course erratic, and the domestic solar system was breaking into a sweat and a panic trying to do anything sensible with them.

Then I awoke one misty, moisty morning to find the gauges at a positively (and negatively) R.I.P. voltage of 10.6… Were they going peacefully to their repose? Oh no, not a bit of it.

I oiked the covers off the engine bay and lowered my lithe and limber surfer-dude’s body* down down down into the heart of the Cardinal.

*That’s me, by the way, I am not keeping a sandy-haired, tanned Bruce on ice, or anything. That would be weird.

And probably illegal.

One of the four 110Ah batteries was on the verge of “ouch hot” to the touch… and this after a night of doing next to nothing at all. Resisting my tendency to teleport away to a safe distance (Titan sprang to mind, in orbit about Saturn) I disconnected the distressed solar panel system, and then disconnected all of the batteries from the boat and from one another. Then I left things to cool down.

One of the batteries had, at a well-informed (hygrometer and multi-meter) guess developed a short in one cell, died from heat and all of the others were so upset that immolation had become the grieving option of choice.

I couldn’t help but to reflect upon and gibber a little at the knowledge that such 12v lead-acid batteries do occasionally set themselves on fire and/or explode somewhat inconveniently. This experience had been too close for comfort.

The Cardinal and I spent a day, an evening and a night in the Stone Age, with no electrickery (and thus no water, no charging of devices – the interwebnetting which of ones wouldn’t work anyway, due to the MiFi signal also choosing to go arsey-tarsey). To wit, I read a book, drank a very wussy bottle of Pinot Grigio that I had been keeping in reserve for 12v funerals and slept until the nearest star woke me with the gentle touch of its radiations.

Yesterday was spent reconnecting the least-deceased of the four batteries – to keep my alternators from also flinging themselves into the pit of self-destruction, so that I might start the engine and move the boat. A short hop, one lock and a reverse-mooring manoeuvre onto a crowded pontoon alongside the very nice folk of Venetian Chandlery (the Venetian Hire Boats dudes) saw me ready, keen and over-eager to whip off all of the access panels and jump to the task of re-disconnecting the chosen mule battery, lifting the dead ones up, across, out of the Cardinal and onto a trolley on the pontoon before repeating the process in reverse with some fresh, new, even heavier lovelies.

Those of you who knoweth me will understand when I say that the day was blue-sky, blazing sun hot, and how much more “fun” that made the physical task… 😉

Chief Engineer and I have decided to grasp the opportunity to reduce the capacity from its previous, nominal, 440Ah to 230Ah plus the one at the pointy end (and the entirely separate engine starter battery). I am an economical beast in terms of most things, and my morning deficit rarely achieves -25Ah to -35Ah, quite often being nearer to single figures. I shouldn’t worry the new domestic batteries at that.

After a grand day out had been had by all the Chief Engineer pronounced the job a good’un, and he left to return to Castle Hutson, and I filled the water tank, dumped the recycling, emptied Gazunder Thunderbirds I and II while near the services… and then mooched the Cardinal on a few hundred metres out of the remit of the marina and to some towpath moorings.

To quote Shirley Bassey, what now, my love, now that they have left me? Tweak the internet until it behaves once more, monitor the new batteries to see them settled nicely into a healthy regime and then continue eventually to hook up the extra solar panels and wotnots. I have taps that give forth water again by the magic of electrcity, and lights that light and fans that fan and so forth verily tis magic in many senses of the word.

This morning I awoke as usual just as the sun was rising, checked the gauges for loveliness, dressed, went outside to squeegee down the solar panels – and then came back inside to bed. Someone then stole the hours of o’seven and o’eight of the clock from me, and I woke again – after some very disturbing dreams indeed – just before o’nine! Shameful! The good gnus though is that my back still functions, I can bend and walk and such, tis only my ridiculously swollen hand that tells the tale of yesterday. Yesterday, when all of my batteries went so far away…

Today is what are a day off from most of the “the DIY”, and I can return to feeding the duck families (stale cereal of the Alpen variety is their lot, and they’ll starve once I reach the bottom of the barrel, I am not wasting fresh upon them).



I may indulge in another snooze, later. Order some fresh comestibles to be delivered to the marina, mayhap, and then oiked on my trolley along the towpath. Get stuck back in to kicking the unbelievably dismal Yorkshire Bank, who not only continue to deny their two months and more of failing to send me a replacement debit card and a working PIN to go with it, but who are getting all stroppy and holier than RBS on me about matters. I may give Cyril, the Banking Ombudsman, a call later on, and ask him to dip his telescopic poking stick in a jar of “Back in your place, you financial leeches”.

Or I may just sit and watch the grass grow, the clouds march past and the butterflies hop from wildflower to wildflower.

Chin-chin for the mo from the Cardinal.

Ian H.


  1. Your posts are always a pleasure to read, as one must READ them, to garner the fullest meaning, and not just skim them.

    Sorry to hear about your hands. Have lit a candle and sacrificed a virgin to their swift recovery. May they heal soon.

    About Bruce – I’m sorry to say, good sir, that your secret is now out, that you are the head of a secret organisation dedicated to providing every narrowboat with their own Bruce. It is no longer a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’ the Cardinal will be fully self-sustaining and trans-dimensional.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank’ee kindly! The hands have just about returned to their more usual (dirty great mitts) proportions, about which I am truly pleased. We have winds winds winds here (overnight and) thid morning, the Cardinal is gently bouncing around quite nicely. I wonder when the first boat will stagger past at some outrageous angle against the breeze, folk desperate to get somewhere whatever the weather? Doubtless my B.R.U.C.E. device will alert me to their approach, with a gentle AWOOGAH AWOOGAH on the aural interaction funnel…. Tecknology is a wunnerful thing, but one must be careful to keep it dusted and to avoid the use of wax polishes where not advised to the contrary. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed this – so far, touch wood, new batteries are enjoying themselves mightily. Long may that continue… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am staying at ohm, currently considering my options… I may be forced to join some sort of resistance movement, to help wrest back power for the people… but that would likely be a terminal operation….

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I thought with you going quiet you might be continuing your tour of inspection somewhere; so sorry for your loss! At least with all the refits and new panel and batteries you will be lighting up the canal system – now there’s a thing I wonder what your badger attack took out of your batteries, activating the Colditz alarm systems may just have sent your batteries into repose or over excitement, whatever! Breaking out the emergency rations and roughing it with wine and snacks must have been awful for you! You can guarantee whenever you’re in a frantic fitment feist Mr. Summer will take the opportunity for his one day out of the year! Hand in a bucket of ice? Do you have ice? But don’t fall asleep it’ll make you pee the bed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No, no ice, but I do have a letter from my bank that is sufficiently frosty to be used as an ice-substitute. 🙂 With these new batteries comes a fresh responsibility to keep them healthy and happy for many, many centuries… with only me using them from new whatver happens to them is also all me… eek! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.