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When we had our first boat built, we hadn't been boaters before, so had no knowledge to fall back on; amazingly we got it mostly right , or at least nothing of importance wrong!

This time around, our third boat, we have a better understanding of the boats and our needs for a carefree, relaxing lifestyle.

Below are the things we have learnt and the remedy which has been applied to the new build.

*Lesson: Dave decided on an engine driven 3.5kva Gen set, to run the washing machine, as an inverter may not be man enough for the job if other appliances need to be used at the same time.
The Electrolux Generator produced no power at engine tickover speed so that when locking the electrics would drop out. This was improved slightly by fitting a larger crankshaft pulley but even this could only give a maximum 1.7kva at normal engine running speed.
*Learnt 2nd boat: This time we have installed a third high output engine alternator and an Adverc Battery Management system to get the maximum out of the alternators.
*Learnt 3rd boat: On this boat because we had some problems with mismatched alternators and failure of split charge diodes on boat 2, we are again going with the 3 alternator setup, 65 amp for starter and bowthruster, but this time a matched pair of 120 amp alternators charging through a Stirling alternator to battery charger.

*Lesson: We had a 55kgf electric bow thruster but felt on fast flowing currents this was not always man enough.
*Learn 2nd boat: On the few occasions when the bow thruster is required the extra push of the more powerful 75kgf will be welcome.
*Learnt 3rd boat: We were very happy with the performance of the 75kgf but upgraded to a 95kgf but only because I got a very very good deal.

*Lesson The water filling point on a Colecraft hull is in the bow gas locker which is tricky to access, also water can backup when filing which then floods the locker, making everything in it wet, we then had to leave the lid open to allow it to dry out.
*Learnt: We have two filling points, one each side of the gas locker lid on top of the bow for easy access from the tow path without having to climb aboard, if there's an overflow it doesn't matter as it runs into the canal..

*Lesson: Keeping warm was by a multi fuel stove, a Villager Puffin; a good little stove giving out plenty of heat, the downside being, no riddler, making it impossible to keep going overnight. The other problem was a glass window in the door which turned black, so had to be cleaned every day.
*Learnt: A stove with a riddler and Airwash system for clean glass. AArrow Acorn, a truly excellent stove.

*Lesson: The stern sliding hatch was flat, i.e. no upstanding lip, so when wet and opened from inside, you were greeted with a shower.
*Learnt: An upstanding lip is a must.

*Lesson: I wanted chrome fittings as I hate cleaning brass, but was overruled by David who wanted a more traditional finish. It looked wonderful when newly polished but soon dulled, in fact it was a full time job keeping it shinning; guess who had the job of polishing!
*Learnt: A chrome finish is minimal maintenance and is our choice second & third time around.

*Lesson:The length of our first boat was 62ft, the maximum length for most of the waterways. We knew there were 4 canals that were un navigable for a boat of this length but as we were living aboard for 7 months at a time we felt the inside space was more important.
*Learnt: Second time around the boat is 60ft long so we can do the parts of the system that were inaccessible to us before. We don't anticipate the loss of 2ft being a major issue.

*Lesson: We had CCTV which worked well, except the bow camera was in the cratch, so unless the side was rolled up you got a wonderful view of the inside of the cratch.
*Learnt: The camera will be mounted on the front of the boat for maximum viewing.

*Lesson: As an afterthought we treated ourselves to a satellite system. This included a Kirstan dish which should have fitted on the roof by sucker feet, the trouble was our roof was slip resistant with a sanded effect so the feet wouldn't suck onto it. We then got a magnetic mat, the idea being the mat magnatised to the roof and the sucker feet stuck to the mat. A good idea but when a breeze was blowing the dish fell over as the mat wasn't man enough to hold it down.
Dave fitted a flag pole holder to the roof, attached a pole to the satellite dish and they slotted together, an excellent outcome as for very low bridges we could lift the dish down and lay it flat.
*Learnt: Have the satellite system installed during the build. We now have a German 'Camos' which is easy to set up from inside the boat, looks neat and tidy on the roof and doesn't have the eyesore dome.

*Lesson: Blue deck lights were fitted around the rear deck which worked by a sensor, a good idea as when returning to the boat in the dark, they automatically came on as we stepped aboard. The down side was when cruising through a tunnel the lights came on and dazzled Dave.
*Learnt: The lights are fitted under the Taff rail, pointing down.

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