Monday, November 08, 2021

It's curtains for Herbie

Don't panic!  It really is curtains, new ones hand made by Kath from  lots of squares of fabric which she has hand printed / dyed.  Lots of the prints and dyes come from leaves plucked from gardens, hedges or the canalside.  She was out there collecting more leaves this morning.  Sitting in the boat with the curtains drawn and the light outside, it's a bit like a stained glass window.

We've just spent the weekend aboard, two nights in the marina and one out on the canal near the Willow Wren training school close to the top of Stockton locks. All very pleasant and a chance to get used to our new stove ( I say new, it's 18 months since it was fitted but we didn't get to use in last winter).  It seems you do have to "learn" a stove and it's ways.  This one seems to need the ash cleared away more regularly so it can breathe.  Apart from that it's very good, especially considering it cost far less than the old one it replaced.

Out on the canal was a boat selling cake (Daisy's Bakin' Butty)  ) so naturally we felt obliged to support it by buying and eating some.  It's a sacrifice were were prepared to make. 

Coming back to our mooring I did a spectacularly good spin and reverse into our slot. Of course no one was looking, unlike when I bumped the side of the entrance bridge on the way out in full view of the harbour master. Sods Law prevails.

At this time of year we have to think about winterising Herbie each time we leave her.  It's mainly a matter of draining the plumbing and making sure the shower mixer is dry.  The solar panels will look after the batteries and we have the diesel tank full to the brim so as to limit water absorption from the air - a source of diesel bug which glues up your fuel lines. 

One day when we get HVO fuel we won't need to worry about diesel bug as it claims to be non hygroscopic and the fuel will keep for ten years without harm.  It seems inevitable to me that HVO fuel will become common on the canals, maybe even compulsory.  I asked about it at our marina.  They are aware of it and are considering the pros and cons.  They think it could cost up to 50p more per litre which would inevitably put a lot of people.  Their current diesel supplier doesn't have it yet but they probably will be able to offer it  in due course.  I think it would be good if they could offer it as an option.  I for one would be prepared to buy it because it would let us go boating with a cleaner conscience environment wise.  I see that it gets a mention in the latest CRT boaters update.  I forecast we'll be hearing a lot more about it in the coming year.

Now we're off the Cambridge for a few days visiting our son Peter, then back home next week for our booster jabs.  It's all go.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

More greenery - facts emerge

Many many thanks to those who commented on my previous post about greener boating. All good stuff and revealed to me that there's a bit more going on than I thought.

In particular I hadn't heard about HVO fuel.  For those who like me had never heard of it, it's a straight replacement for normal diesel fuel that offers a huge reduction in harmful emissions. There don't seem to be any problems with normal diesel engines running on it, and it doesn't suffer from diesel bug. On the face of it, it looks just what we need.  Of course we need to be wary of hidden down sides. Rather than me explain it all, have a look at these links:

HVO and greener boating - Inland Waterways Association   Why hadn't I seen this before?

HVO Trials report -IWA  "The feedback from IWA members who are trialling this new fuel has been overwhelmingly positive. HVO is indeed a viable alternative to diesel fuel. It is also a straight drop-in replacement compatible with fuel that is already in a boat’s tank."

Crown Oil HVO suppliers - lots of detail about the fuel itself and worth a read

That'll give you all you need to know about the up sides. And there are many.

The downsides?

Availability.  The only canal marina I can find selling it is  North Kilworth(thanks Pip and Mick for the tip off.) - out there towards Foxton on the Leicester Arm.  Fuel boat Barnet is selling HVO to boaters in London. There also seems to be a supplier on the Thames in London.

Cost:  Do the current rules on red diesel declarations apply?  I assume not so we might  be paying full price and HVO is a bit dearer than road diesel anyway.  Personally I'd be happy to pay up.  Does anybody know what they charge per litre at North Kilworth?  Failing that, at a rough estimate I imagine it might cost me something like £100+ a year more.  Continuous cruisers  would find a much bigger difference of course.  There is one cost reduction element - additives like Marine 16 to prevent diesel bug would be unnecessary.  I reckon that using Marine 16 works out at a cost of about 5p per litre of diesel at the correct dose so that would get me about 15 quid back.  Anybody who has had to pay for fuel polishing to get rid of a diesel bug attack would be quids in.

Real world downsides?:  Whilst the emission figures for HVO look amazingly good, you have to factor in the hidden environmental cost of growing and harvesting the biomass crops which make up a lot of the fuel, and the processing of the stuff.  You wouldn't want a lot of rainforest cut down to grow the biomass like it has been for palm oil.

I'm thinking of canvassing others in our marina to see if we get get enough demand for them to stock it.

Moving on - A bit off boaty topic but Sarah made a comment about heat pumps and fridges.  I wonder if heat pumps could extract heat from the canal water?  No idea.  As it happens there is a row of houses with air -source heat pumps just across the road from where our Peter lives in Cambridge. It's called Marmelade Lane and has a number of fascinating lifestyle features.  This Guardian article tells you about it and is worth a read.  It looks very appealing to anyone who likes a community feel.  I stroll past them and hear the fans gently whirring inside the big brick boxes outside the front doors.  As far as I'm aware they don't get your house as warm as a gas boiler can.