Narrowboat log: September 2023

thin lizzy narrowboat at sawley marina

So I’ve moved Thin Lizzy to Sawley Marina now with the help of a retired, experienced boating couple. There was a weir to pass on the way over plus some parking required, and having their help was amazing. I’m slotted in to a bankside berth with an electric and water bollard right in front of me. There’s also fibre optic internet, but I’ll come back to that in a bit! There’s been so much to learn in a short time and my head is spinning.

Leisure Batteries

I’ve got an engine starter battery and two leisure batteries on board, and the leisure’s power the ceiling lights and water pumps. The ceiling lights are a bit garish so I use a desk lamp off the 240v instead. The pumps are the engine bilge pump, shower ‘gulper’ pump to get the waste water up and out of the boat and the main water pump at the front of the boat. These are vital.

After rummaging around I discovered that Lizzy doesn’t have a battery charger and the only way to charge them is to run the engine. The boats are pretty close together, I’d rather not be chugging away on diesel every day to charge them, and I also want to know how charged they are so some kind of monitor would be good.

Victron blue smart IP65 charger

Victron plug-in battery charger – a quick and easy option

I’ve been here a few weeks without charging them, so they must be getting low now. Running leisure batteries down past 50% apparently decimates their life expectancy, so I needed to get a charger sorted. There are however about a thousand options, broadly speaking how many outputs it has, whether it’s installed permanently or not and how many amps it will provide to the battery bank.

I joined the ’12 volt boating group’ on FB and the experienced chaps there pointed me towards a Victron Blue Smart 15 amp charger. I’m on a 16 amp shore power connection so that’s the biggest I can go, and having one fitted was going to cost me god knows how much and probably mean waiting a while for a marine electrician.

Victron Connect app

Victron Connect app that connects via Bluetooth and shows your battery status, amongst other info

Galvanic Isolation

When lots of boats are all wired up to the same electrics like in a marina, apparently any electrical problems can result in other boats using my ‘sacrificial anodes’ or hull to ground their boats, rotting all my metalwork in rapid timeframe. Obviously that’s not great, and fitting a ‘galvanic isolator’ can stop this happening. I went for a plug in one to avoid having to do any more wiring and it arrived really quick.

Stove Situation

The previous owners told me that the stove fitted to my boat was designed and built by them, which worries me slightly. OK, a lot. There’s potential to poison myself to death my carbon monoxide and/or set fire to the boat if things aren’t up to scratch. The stove, flue and fireproof wall panels all need to be up to spec to avoid issues.

While I’ve run a couple of fires and it all seemed fine, I’d be reassured by a stove technician giving it a once over.  It’s the wrong time of year to try and book that though as everyone else is doing the same, plus it’s another £150, so it might have to wait.

Wild Weather

We’ve just had an insane 5am storm, rocking the boat and smashing it with rain. I spent an hour lying there panicking that Lizzy isn’t waterproof enough and is filling up with water. Thanks brain.

Internet Infuriation

The marina has fibre optic internet to the power/water bollards, and the marina recommended Hyperoptic to provide gigabit internet. I found that rather exciting. After nearly two weeks of contacting their ‘support’ department by phone and ticket however, I was no nearer an installation. They forgot about my ticket, said they had booked an install when they hadn’t, and sent me the router without the long cable I’d need to connect to the boat. So close, yet so far.

They then informed me their engineers’ waterside safety certificates had expired and it would be another few weeks until the first available install date. I cancelled as their service was absolutely shocking and I don’t want to give them a penny. I’ve since found out they are owned by some horrible investment company that also invest in fossil fuel pipelines, so I’m glad to not support THAT.

I’m currently running a TPLink 4g router, a Poynting external antenna (both donated by lovely neighbours) and a SMARTY unlimited data SIM. This gets me around 4mb up and down which is enough to work on web designs, do emails and watch a bit of YouTube.

Back to Phone Coop

After cancelling the useless Hyperoptic, I found out the Phone Coop can apparently provide fibre here too! I’ve been with them for over ten years with services at various properties. I’ve got an open installation with them at the moment and while they said it’s going to be tricky, they should be able to provide internet for me. I can’t speak highly enough of the Phone Coop. The complete opposite to corporate call centre methods, they actually take ownership of a query and follow it through, calling me back when necessary. I’ll update when I know more!


There’s been a huge amount to learn this month, along with some unexpected outgoings. I’m still surrounded by piles of boxes.