No gym required

On the last boat trip, I had a battery problem.  Within half an hour of the engine being turned off, the battery light changed from a friendly green to an ominous amber.  Luckily, it was January and so the fridge could be switched off and food put in the cratch to stay cold.  But even with that big energy saver, I still only allowed myself one light on at a time – flat battery paranoia was rife.  On my return to the marina, mains electricity and a battery charger, I did some half-hearted research into how to test if your leisure batteries have had it.  The suggestions sounded confusing and time-consuming, so I decided to throw money at the problem and buy a bank of new batteries.

On opening the hatch to where the batteries are stored, I was greeted by a mass of wires.  At least six, maybe as many as eight.  “I am never going to remember how this all goes together,” I thought to myself.  Happily it is 2017 and the modern person does not need a good memory, but instead a smartphone with a camera.

Next step: actually getting the batteries out.  This meant I had the opportunity to use my excessive amount of spanners and thus continue to convince myself they were good value for money.  After I removed the first bolt, I remembered to turn off the batteries, lest I get a 330 volt reminder about electrical safety.  All was going well until I got to the last bolt.  It would not budge, even with some encouragement from liberal amounts of WD40.  I had been feeling empowered and independent-woman-y until this point.  I decided I might be better served by employing ‘hopeless female’ instead.*

It was a beautiful day outside – surely there would be plenty of strong-looking men around to come to my aid?  Not a soul.  I loitered hopefully around the laundry, but Friday afternoon does not appear to be a popular washing day.  So it was back to plan A – independent woman  who can unscrew stuff all by herself.

And in the end I did.  But my physical labours did not end there.  Batteries are very heavy.  Stupidly, forearm-breakingly heavy.  And I had three of them to lug out of the hatch, along the length of the boat, onto the jetty and into the trolley.  By this point I was back in full independent woman mode, resolved to forget the unnecessary helpless female episode, and pushed the trolley with purpose (and I hope a grimace, though in reality it may have been a lot closer to gurning) towards the marina shop to trade them in.

As if from nowhere, half a dozen people were now milling around outside, and each of them kindly advising me to put the batteries in the car and save myself the effort.  I smiled (grimaced/gurned) each time, more determined to show them that not only can this independent woman unscrew batteries, but she can transport them under her own steam.  I think my point was entirely lost on all of them.

Some time later,the new batteries were loaded on board and I consulted my substitute memory for how to wire them in.  The photos were not as clear as I might have hoped, but still a significant improvement of the blurry image I had in my head.  So I gave it a go.  However, I was not so confident in my battery installing abilities that I went ahead and turned them on straight away.  I went back to Plan B and took up neighbour-to-the-left’s offer to check it over.

Sadly for my independent woman ego, I had not quite done a flawless job.  One of the battery attachments wasn’t on properly and I’d missed a wire.  But when the moment of truth came – the big switch on – I did not get fried and the lights came back on.  Battery success.

Almost.  The friendly-green-sometimes-amber light that tells me how the batteries are getting on is part of the solar panel unit. That light did not come back on.  Maybe in a couple of months my biceps will have sufficiently recovered for me to investigate correctly reconnecting the solar panel.  Right now me and my arms need tea and biscuits.

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Respect‘ by Aretha Franklin.

*I am a feminist but…..’hopeless female’ is one of my strongest problem-solving tactics when it comes to my boat.  It may turn out to be a less effective tactic for smashing the patriarchy.

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The joy of tidying….and heating.

Anyone who has visited Double Fracture will have noticed that I have quite a lot of stuff.  It’s not quite a hoarder’s paradise, but you could surmise that I am not good at throwing things away.   Because of this a friend, let’s call her Bekky, recommeded I try the KonMari approach – tidying by category instead of my traditional approach of by room.  Her book promised not only would by home be tidier, but my life more successful.  Previous adherents to the method have subsequently increased sales, got divorced (but in a positive, life-affirming way) and re-established lapsed friendships.  I would be happy with a less cluttered boat.

First up was clothes.  I emptied my wardrobe and all my drawers onto my sofa.  KonMari advises you take each item in your hands – those that spark joy you keep, and those that don’t get thrown.  I didn’t always stick to this golden rule – I couldn’t claim my work uniforms make me light up exactly, but my manager would have something to say that would definitely not spark joy if they ended up in a bin liner.  Even with practical omissions, the bin bag filled up.

Books and DVDs followed.  I discovered six toothbrushes and three cooling sprays (I have never used one cooling spray) in the toiletries clean up.  Out of date food hit the skip, and a box of cake icing tools was generously (?) donated to a charity shop.  Once I got going, there was no stopping me.  Space is at a premium on the good ship, and I was no longer going to waste it with dehumidifying contraptions that seemed to make no difference to condensation. (It was a different story when I got to the photos.  You can’t expect me to change overnight.)

I haven’t yet discovered my true purpose in life, or found the love of my life through tidying.  But I have managed to shock my parents with empty kitchen worktops, and that is no easy task.  And tidying has brought me a sense of acheivement if not quite unfettered joy.

There was, however, unfettered joy at another recent boat event.  My diesel heater broke at the end of January and this was not fixed until the beginning of March.  (I got a professional in once I had established that my previous problem – an empty diesel tank – was not the cause in this case.)  My heater is loud, and I turn it off at night as the whirring keeps me awake.  However, after six weeks of a cold bedroom and no hot running water, that whirring was the sweetest sound I had heard in a long time.  (It’s up there with Nwton Faulker percussing on his guitar, and Forest scoring a last-minute equaliser in the East Midlands derby.)  The joy of heating definitely beats the joy of tidying.

This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Hole in a bottle‘ by Canaan Smith.

Footnote: My tidying might have been flawed.  I may have tidied my passport and credit card into a bin liner.  Maybe clutter is the way forward after all.