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.