Sunday, October 01, 2017

Lots to see and learn in Banbury today.


Well Banbury Canal Day, despite being cancelled and then uncancelled, went pretty well. The good folk of hereabouts turned out in lots of thousands to buy food and crafts from the various market areas and the trading boats, there were long queues for the boat trips and the live music outside the social club was popular, as was the kids funfair in the park. We just sat there looking pretty, well Herbie did, resplendent in our bunting.



Lots of local charities had stalls too, as did IWA and CRT, who also had a boat with some bits of lock on it. Can you identify what the bits are, and do you know the correct name of them?


I had a long chat on Friday with Nigel, (or was it Kevin? Maybe it was Tarquin. Anyway..) CRTs Head of Operations for the Oxford Canal. He's been with BW /CRT for 22 years and seems to know every nut and bolt of every lock on the canal. Definately a hands on sort of bloke. We talked about various locks down this way that had had or still have paddle problems and he was explaining some of the challenges they face in getting them fixed. The largest challenge seems to be funding, the cost of some of the castings required for some of the paddle gear is eye watering. Then there is the problem of boaters who think they know better trying to operate faulty paddles that have been taped up awaiting repair, and making a matters a lot worse. That's what happened at Marston Doles last week.

I asked about the crumbling brickwork on some of the lift bridges. He said their aim was to repair or rebuild two per annum, but sometimes the budget won't stand it. The one they rebuilt at Somerton this year cost 200 grand!! (I think I heard him right).

Reservoir levels, he said, were still a concern. Apparently a lot of this year's rain has been isolated and not where the reservoirs can catch it. Off the top of his head he was able to quote me how many millimeters depth was left in each of his reservoirs. There is a lot of back pumping going on. Apparently water is being pumped up all the way from Leamington to the Braunston pound and then on up the Napton flight to feed the summit. He did quote me how many litres per second they pump, but as he pointed out, it takes a helluva lot of pumping to replace what is lost by a busy morning on a lock flight.

So tomorrow we finish our four week cruise. It's been very good indeed. No doubt later I'll be able to remember more things to tell you.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Jobs for the Boys

CRT have got stuff to keep them busy up here, but people are grumbling about how long it is taking. The lock second from the top of the Napton flight is causing big queues. One bottom gate paddle is out of action entirely and the other can only be raised a couple of inches so the lock is taking twenty minutes to empty. I've heard tales of people queueing for three hours!

Back down at Whilton the other day there was a fallen tree right across the canal. This hastily grabbed as we passed photo doesnt show it too well, but the tree has fallen from the right hand bank as we look at it.



Mercifully the trunk has sagged enough to let most boats float over it, but only just. Out of gear of course.

Then today I heard a tale of what might be CRT performing an unrequested duty. Cutting a boat's securing chain. At least we presume it was them. Up near the Wormleighton radio mast on the Oxford summit a man had left his boat for a few days while he had gone off to work. He had secured his boat via a chain between a ring on the edge of his roof down to the arnco, locking it with a padlock. When he returned to his boat, he found that his chain had been neatly cut with bolt cutters and placed on the roof complete with his padlocks. We can only assume that someone from CRT concluded that chaining a boat in this way is unsafe because the boat could tip over sideways if the water level changed materially. However I would have thought that up here in this ten mile pound, such a rise or fall would be highly unlikely. Is this general CRT policy I wonder? In which case it would have been nice of them to leave a note explaining their actions.

Speaking of Jobs for the Boys, I have resumed writing my sequel to my blockbuster novel of the same name, as I have now spent the twenty quid it has earned me and need more funds. I am currently up to 46,869 words, every one a gem, well some of it makes me laugh when I read it back at any rate. I am aiming for a minimum 80,000 words, so only 33,131 to go.

Should anyone be thinking of attending the Banbury Canal day this weekend, that's where we'll be. Knock three times and quote the password "cake" and we might invite you in for some. And a cuppa of course. The weather forecast says wind and rain, but we can always hope they are wrong. Where is Michael Fish when you need him?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Herbie in the sky



Here we are this evening, now facing North and high above the surrounding land, except you can't see that for the trees. These steps down to the village will give it away to those who know the GU. (Oh, look, there's William across the other side. That means we might get woken tomorrow by the best alarm clock sound in the world - a Bolinder firing up.)



Yes we are on the Weedon Embankment, up level with the roof of the church! Having strolled into the village below, I'm pleased to report that they have a very good, well stocked One Stop supermarket (not the Tesco Express on the A5), a rare thing on this part of the GU and only a short walk from the canal at this point. For a village stores we thought the prices were very competitive too.

We spent the previous two nights in the long pound in Stoke Bruerne locks, along with some charming neighbours. Here's one of them.



Sorry I don't know his name. To be frank, he didn't have a lot to say, and he was a bit stand-off-ish, but quite passive. He and his family work for the local wild life trust, keeping down the scrub at the brick field nature reserve. I recommend a walk round it. He didn't bother to join us for the pub quiz either. We could have done with some help because it was very hard this week. Predictably it was one by a team of eight. Someone ought to devise a handicap system for large quiz teams.

When we arrived there , the pound was very low. I'm not talking about Sterling here, but referring to the fact that the bottom of the canal was too near the top. We were not alone in sitting on the mud at an angle. Someone must have alerted CRT who switched on a back pump and water gushed from an outfall for at least 36 hours, and the pound was fullish but not overflowing. That's a helluva lot of water.

Kathryn was there to say "Hello, Goodbye" when we came through the top lock. The sun was shining and it was a lovely morning, so of course we then plunged straight into two miles of dark wet tunnel!

Tonight, in the interest of research, we plan to investigate the Plume of Feathers, whose menu looks interesting. I'll report back.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A morning surprise and a night time shock..

Arriving at our favourite mooring at Great Linford, it looked just as attractive as ever.




It's a spot I never get tired of. Very peaceful with just the occasional dog walker.

Next morning however we pulled back the curtains to see half the park covered in marquees, gazeebos and vans! I strolled down to take a look. I was a bit taken aback that it had all arrived that very morning. It was the Milton Keynes Food Festival. Artisan bakers, brewers, distillers, pie makers, ham smokers, cheese sellers, currys, samosas, paellas, and a lot more I can't recall now. Also there was a tent with live music and another with gourmet chefs giving coookery demonstrations. Well what a treat. The only annoying thing was that we had eaten breakfast before pulling back our curtains. Anyhow we got some fab cheese and some great sourdough bread, some Indian pasties and a couple of yummy takeaway curries for the fridge. They're all gone now. - that's both the food fair and the food we bought.

Later that night, about half past ten we were sitting quietly on the boat listening to one of my ace (even though I say it myself) playlists, when there was a terrifically loud bang outside the boat. An explosion in fact.

Looking out into the darkness we could see flames about a hundred yards away. Something was burning fiercely, first in three plumes of flame, then two, and finally one which must have lasted for at least ten minutes. We couldn't see or hear anyone out there. I decided not to go nearer to investigate, in case whatever it was exploded again. Eventually it all went quiet and we went to bed.

Next morning I walked down to investigate and this is what I found.



Three aerosol cans, one of which had clearly exploded and two which had burnt out, a couple of torch batteries and a lot of burnt cardboard, all on top of a drain cover. I rang the police and reported it in case it was someone practising bomb making, but there being no wires or anything like that, I daresay it was kids who set fire to the cardboard, then threw on the cans and batteries and retreated to a safe distance. It was, I assure you, one hell of a bang.

Next day our 48 hours at the mooring was up and we were due to move, but the mooring warden came by and said we could stay another night as it was not busy. Thanks Mr Warden. These moorings belong to The Parks Trust, as do the ones at Campbell Park, where I'm told the warden is not so generous. The overstay fine is 50 quid.

Cruising through Milton Keynes is a genuine delight, over two hours of really attractive park land, all I suppose run by the Parks Trust. Well done them.

Tonight we rest our weary feet in Fenny Stratford, having walked over the hill and down to IKEA and back as well as the obligatory traipse through the store. It was worth it, because we now have a load of reasonably priced LED lightbulbs for home, and a few other things we never knew we needed. IKEA is like that.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Glow in the dark canal

Just as we were approaching Cosgrove yesterday, we suddenly noticed that the canal water had turned a really bright green, almost luminous. This continued for about a hundred yards and then it stopped as suddenly as it had started. What could it be we wondered? Some sort of algal bloom perhaps, or maybe one of the moored boats along there had spilled something nasty into the water.

When we tied up after the bridge, we chatted to the man on the neighbouring boat. "Oh I know what that is" he said, "I used to work in Environmental Health and we used that stuff." Apparently it is fluoroscene, a harmless fluorescent dye which is used to track water courses, so it may have been used to find out where a ditch or a pipe was leaking into the canal, or vice versa. Our informant said that sometimes they used three different colours to see which of three things was the culprit. Imagine that, a rainbow coloured canal. He also said it glows in the dark so it can be used at night. I'm sure he was right, there were a couple of CRT boats at the site of the dye and men were doing stuff.

I'm very prone to earworms, sometimes they last for days and I can't stop singing or humming some song I don't necessarily even like. Today we passed a boat called Bird on a Wire and that set me off. It's a Leonard Cohen song in case you didn't know. Earlier this year I was forced to send an email to Stanley Accrington, who used to do the folk circuit with daft songs including one with the line Why Must I be a Dyslexic in Vole which I couldn't get out of my head. People of a certain age will know the original song it parodies. I loved the line which went something like, "Each time you touch my hand a tin leg runs down my spine."

I'm delighted to report that our favourite mooring at Great Linford, overlooking the park, was vacant when we arrived, so that's where I am writing this.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Chasing the light

Hmmphh! I'm sure I wrote a blog post yesterday, but somehow it got lost. Never mind, life goes on and tonight we are here.





Yup, Cosgrove

The light was good for photos. After taking a lot of pics of the bridge I went off in the direction of the horse tunnel hoping to get the low light streaming through, but the sun had other ideas and did this just before I got there -




That was the last we saw of it. Oh well.


Yesterday after two miles underground we emerged into Stoke Bruerne where the redoubtable Kathryn dropped in for tea and cake, plus lots of canal gossip of course, and then Kath and I dined at the Navigation. Two very good steaks and a bottle of Hardys shiraz for twenty quid. Very good we thought. They had a good quiz too with an interesting format. Twenty five general knowledge questions randomly scattered on a five by five grid. Then at the end, the answers read out in random order and the first to get a line of right answers takes the prize. Needless to say that wasn't us as we were the smallest team.

This morning at half past six, Kathryn came past on Nb Sculptor en route for Foxton and gave us a blast on her klaxon as she did so. I don't think our neighbours were best pleased.

Tomorrow Tesco at Wolverton ( taking care to avoid their mountain as advised by Frank Ifield fifty odd years ago), then on to Great Linford with our fingers crossed that our favourite mooring is free.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wind, Willoughby and a Whizz.

It's Tuesday evening and we're waiting for The Big Wind promised by the Met Office. Stuff on Herbie's roof has either been stowed away or tied down and we are moored in what we hope is a sheltered spot just North of Blisworth. Do you think I should lash Kath to the tiller? Maybe we should have motored into the middle of the tunnel and stopped there:-) Mind you, the rain would probably be worse in there.

Dave, the Eberspacher whizz at Heyford Fields has done his stuff and we now have a working heater. Actually there was nothing at all wrong with the heater, it was all down to a couple of old bullet fuses in the power line that had corroded. The Eberspacher is too clever for its own good sometimes, and if it senses too low a voltage it turns itself off. Listening to Dave talking us through the heater's start up sequence showed us what a sophisticated piece of kit it is. He also fitted us a timer switch so we can program it to start up before we get out of bed. And, here's the good bit, all for a lot less dosh than we had feared. I wouldn't go anywhere else now.

Last night we were joined by Rick and Marilyn for a bash at the Monday quiz at the Wharf at Bugbrooke. Quite a good quiz. Just before the last round, we were within a single point of the lead, as Rick is fond of saying, general knowledge is our speciality. Then the inevitable popular culture questions appeared and we sank into obscurity. Who the hell is Holly Willoughby? She cost us a load of points. I think we should declare a fatois on her.

This, as you all know is the season of fruits and misty mellowness and we are eating plenty of blackberries with our breakfast cereals and tonight we have blackberry and apple for pud. Typically we have to walk only a couple of boat lengths to stock up every time we stop. I wish hips and haws were more edible - we would be really feasting.

Oo er, the wind is just starting to make loud noises outside. Stoke Bruerne tomorrow if we're spared.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Downhill on the Level


Is it just me, or does the canal here look like it's plunging down hill? You might recognise this spot if you've gone "over the top" from Fenny Compton to Napton. I still can't believe it's on the level, although of course it must be.

Down at Napton, we strolled into the village to mooch around the Village Store and Post Office. If you've never been then make sure you do next time you pass through. This is definately not yer average Spar or whatever, more of a posh deli really and they'll serve you a pot of tea and some wicked cakes at tables inside and outside. Of course you can buy some of the produce of the local buffalo farm which you pass on the way down - burgers, sausages, buffalo milk ice cream(!) and the like. Apparently the herd has grown to over 140 by now. We didn't buy any of that but we were ensnared by a sample tasting of their Bloody Mary Ketchup, on special offer and as you'd expect containing Worcestershire sauce and a touch of vodka. Now we have to decide what food is good enough to put it on. Any suggestions?

Just down the road on the way back to the canal we passed the Napton Cidery. They had some of their cider in the shop but we hadn't bought any. However that evening we of course went into the Folly for a meal - it would be sheer folly not to, as the food and drink their is always good. Anyhow, they had some of the Napton cider on hand pump so I asked for a taste. I like good real cider, but a lot of real cider is far from good. The Napton cider, I am pleased to report, is very very nice, and although stronger than beer, it isn't too strong.

The pub was packed early on (booking essential these days), but as it thinned out later we got a chance to chat to Mark the landlord, who as all customers know, is a bit of a character. He produced a pack of cards and proceeded to show us a couple of really clever card tricks. At the time I had no idea how they might have been done, but after sleeping on it I have some theories. I must call in next time and see if he will repeat them. If I'm right he must have put in a lot of practice at sleight of hand. Well if all that doesn't tempt you to visit the Folly, let me just add that although you have to wait a while for your food when they are busy, it is well worth the wait.

Today we rest up in Braunston while it rains. I have been doing some more on my novel, surprising how you can change the pace by shuffling some chapters about, and Kath has been doing some art work on her iPad, inspired by some bulrushes we saw along the way. She uses an artists App called Procreate, which is very good. Here are a couple of versions of her bulrushes. We can't decide which is best. Opinions welcome.


Tuesday, September 05, 2017

On top of the world



A shaft of September sunlight falls on Herbie as we rest for the night on day 2 of our cruise. Clever so and so's will deduce our position from the second photo. That radio mast is a dead giveaway. Kath has had a long held yen to stop at this spot to enjoy the view so who am I to deny her the pleasure.



Yes we're up on Wormleighton hill heading for Napton, Braunston and the GU.

Next Monday we have an appointment to get our Eberspacher heater fixed and serviced by Boating Leisure Services at Heyford Fields. If the man there is as skilled as he is affable, then it should be a good job. We might even get a programmable time switch installed if it doesn't work out too dear.

Thereafter, we're not sure where to go. We could plod on to enjoy the delights of Milton Keynes or we might race back down the Oxford and hit the upper Thames. If you don't have a plan, then it can't go wrong. That's what I say.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Journey to the end of the Earith

Richard, our eldest, is a naughty boy. He has lived on his boat Nb Bankside in Hartford Marina near Huntingdon for eleven years and never moved.  Well the boat that is.  Not only tha,t but he has virtually never run the engine.  Anyhow, at last the time has come to repaint the boat, so the inevitable eventual move could no longer be put off.  Bankside is living proof of the folly of painting a boat red.  Over the years all of the red pigment had bleached out of the paint, leaving the boat a mixture of cream and rust. Its fair to say she looks pretty terrible on the surface. Arrangements had been made with a boatyard at Earith to give the rusty old barque a thorough going over top and bottom, after which she will hopefully emerge all clean and shiny in two pack green paint with a cream roof.

“How do you fancy a four and a half hour river cruise in a rusty boat whose engine hasn’t run for ten years?” was the question he didn’t ask but might as well have.  Well it was with some trepidation that I volunteered, inviting Rick to join us as ship’s engineer, expecting every minute for his mechanical skills to be called upon.  I am not normally a pessimistic person but I confess I was not the least confident that the boat would survive the journey.

So last Monday I popped up to check out the engine and running gear.  The prop shaft turned easily by hand so at least that wasn’t seized up.  The engine was a different matter, mainly because the battery, as you might expect, was knackered.  So one new starter battery later and a good cleanup of the contacts by a nice man at the marina, attempt number two was taken.  Blow me down, she burst into life.  What’s more the ten year old diesel in the tank still did it’s job, no hoses split, nothing overheated and the gearbox turned.  I was later to remark that Richard didn’t deserve to be so flippin’ (I may have used a different expletive there) lucky.

So on Friday morning we assembled at the boat with bags full of tools and armfuls of life jackets plus anchor, warp and chain borrowed from Herbie. Nothing like being prepared for disaster!  Kath spent twenty minutes extracting the boat’s electric shore cable from ten years of undergrowth wile I delved into the weed hatch to clear the accumulation of water weed and hand spin the prop which had a decidedly crusty surface.

After starting the old BMC 1.8 once more, we untied the brittle old mooring ropes and punted the boat off it’s pontoon until we were clear of the raft of weed.  Gently opening the throttle and unable to take our eyes off the temperature  gauge and the voltmeter, we crept out of the marina and onto the River Ouse, which along that stretch is very pretty. 

I wouldn’t call Bankside’s engine smooth, or even smoothish, well, it is a BMC that hadn’t run for ten years, running on ten year old diesel, but miraculously it chugged along without doing anything scary and we were soon at our first lock. The guillotine top gates on Ouse locks are frustratingly slow to say the least and we were soon revising our four hour estimate, while Rick did his best to remain incognito, understandably embarrassed to be seen crewing such a rusty old barque.

Then came Hemingford with its beautiful riverside church and then probably the most picturesque spot on the Ouse, the medieval bridge at St Ives. 

stiv1 (1 of 1)

We slunk through in full view of the usual gongoozlers,  trying not to look too rusty,

stiv2 (1 of 1)


and plodded on through the miles to Brownshill staunch where we entered the short (barely) tidal section, then through the final lock and into the comparative safety of the boatyard.

Well, to cut a long story short we made it!  By the time we got there, the old engine was remembering how to run and seemed fairly content in its role. No-one was more surprised and relieved than me, although we still wait to see what condition the hull is in when they get her out of the water.  Whether I will be volunteering for the return trip sometime in October all being well, remains to be seen.  That'll be a good time for some before and after pictures.

Meanwhile, the Great Herbie Autumn Cruise is about to start.  Where will we go?  Stay tuned to find out.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Solar panel connection reseach. Interesting findings on YouTube

Well now, there's a thing! Helpful comments from Frank and Dave (thanks chaps) on my last post caused me to doubt my decision to connect solar panels in parallel rather than in series. Their arguments were erudite and persuasive. So wanting to delve further, I called upon my secret weapons, Rick, the smartest Engineer (with a capital E) I know, and I know a fair few, and Peter my brilliant Cambridge PhD scientist son (well I have to play the proud Dad sometimes) who has taught me so much inluding most of what I know about electronics.

Rick has never looked into Solar energy in any detail, but his knowledge of electrics and his sense of logic led him to side with me in so far as recognising that serial linking two panels with similar voltages but potentially different currents might not be advantageous. I left him to ponder.

Peter had never looked into solar power either, but he is nothing if not a quick researcher (with a good knowledge of electronics) and went off to look at a lot of graphs and interview the internet. One of his many mantras is that "Theory tells you which experiments to run" so he set out searching for people who had actually compared series and parallel solar panel connections and taken proper measurements under different conditions. What he found was very interesting.

There is a series of YouTube videos presented by a smart lady called Amy from the eltstore which I believe is in Canada. I wont go into all the detail here, but she connects up panels one way and then the other and takes readings of panel volts and amps and the amps delivered by a connected MPPT controller. If you go to Youtube and search for solar mismatch, you'll soon find her.

I was particularly interested in the mismatch topic because my intention is to add a new panel with an old one, and to some extent they will have different characteristics.

What Amy's tests clearly demonstrate is that when adding a second panel with a similar voltage, but materially different current from the first one, it is much better to connect them in parallel. All the specs and graphs i have looked at show that panel voltages are nearly always remarkably similar and stable but amps generated vary a lot with panel size and solar energy input. Furthermore, and most interestingly she demonstrates that under partial shading, series connections suffer a much larger drop in ouput than parallel. Go see for youself if you don't believe me. The videos are very good. She also does a good demo of the effects of tilting the panel in low sun, and another on the effects of temperature on panel performance.

This, as I see it, is the difference between ideal conditions and the reality of solar panels on a boat. Frank and Dave are quite correct and in ideal conditions I would follow thier advice to the letter. The ideal would indeed be for me to have two identical panels, each with their own controller, and each receiving the same amount of sunlight. The next best thing would be two identical panels connected in series to one controller and getting the same sunlight.

But that ain't gonna happen. I will have two different panels, generating different current, but closely matched voltages sharing one controller (because of expense and installation challenges), and on many occasions when we have to moor under trees or next to a wall or building, or the morco chimney casts a shadow over part of one panel, we will encounter partial shading. Unless anyone can prove Amy wrong, I'm going parallel. Having seen her videos, I might even consider getting a 150W panel rather than a 100W to add to the existing 95W.

Now I need to remeasure the roof space.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Solar expansion planning

Having decided to up our solar power on Herbie, there’s a bit of technical/ electrical planning to do, so for the record and in case it helps anyone, I thought I’d set out the considerations here.  Also, people cleverer than me might spot a flaw in my deliberations and put me straight.  Please feel free to correct me if am wrong.

Our current (gettit?) arrangement is one Kyocera 95w panel charging through an Emponi MPPT controller which is OK up to 100w but no more.  I also have a shunt type ammeter in the negative line between the controller and the batteries.  This shows we can make anything up to 6 amps when the sun is strong and in the right place.  More often we are averaging something like 3 amps.  we would like to double that by adding another 100w panel.

So if we have two panels, should we connect them in series or parallel?

I first decided series might be best, so the voltages are additive, and higher voltage in the cables means less resistance losses. Also, daisy chaining up the panels would be simple.  As I understand it, the down side is that if one panel creates more current than the other, there would be equalisation losses.

Now I’m more inclined to connect in parallel,  This way, as long as the panels generate the same or very similar voltage (much more likely), the currents are additive.

So what do I have to check in choosing a new panel?

Voltage is the main thing.  Panels specs should quote  the open circuit voltage Voc, typically about 21.5 volts and a maximum power point voltage Vmpp typically between 17.5 and 18 volts.  For parallel connection a pair of panels need to have these values as similar as possible.  Our current panel has a Vmpp of about 17.6v which I have checked with a voltmeter to be sure it hasn’t deteriorated in this respect.  I’m not sure but I suspect panels deteriorate more in amps than volts.

Type of cell is another issues. Monocrystalline or polycrystalline.  Poly is cheaper, mono is a bit more efficient so panels are a bit smaller for the same output.  They also tend to look a bit nicer. This is where you have to consider space on the roof.  I haven’t made a final decision on this yet, although the difference of up to £50 spread over ten years isn’t a lot. The narrower the panel, the less chance of tangling with Herbie’s centre ropes.

The panel frame is a bit of a consideration, but most of them are ok.  I just need to check the side of the frame is deep enough to take the screws for my tilting stands. 30mm plus is ideal.

Quality.  This is a tough one.  Panels come in a variety of prices for similar specs.  How do you avoid getting inferior quality without paying too much?  My gut feeling is that most panels are OK irrespective of price, but for something I want to work well over many years, I’ll stick to suppliers I think are reputable.  Our last one came from Midsummer Energy, not the cheapest but still reasonable and they are more than just box shifters.  I’ll probably stick with them.  Bits of cable and plugs etc I’ll source from ebay I think where they are a lot cheaper.  Little bits like that can soon add up.

Controller.  I’m going to have to buy an uprated one as the Emponi won’t take 200w.  Choosing MPPT is important, dearer but much more efficient.  Google it if you don’t know why.  Size matters too.  I want to fit the new one in place of the old and space is tight just there. Some of these controllers are at least twice the size of others.  And then there is cost.  Some come with more bels and whistles like remote monitoring etc.  I just want one that is efficient, has the right overload etc protections and from a good manufacturer.  Victron (well known in boat electrics) do a good small 15A MPPT controller for about £80.  That’ll do nicely.

Connections – how best to wire up in parallel.  I am pleased to discover than using the industry standard weatherproof MC4 connections, you can get natty branch connectors to plug two cables into one, which is what you need.  Lots of videos on YouTube show how to do it.

Cables.  Cables get hot and waste power if they are too thin.  They could even catch fire. I checked our existing cables. They are 4mm squared which will be OK to carry the increased current. Phew! I didn't want to have to take the boat ceiling down again for a new run of cable.  I need to check the cables between the controller and the batteries and the fuse too.

So I’ve done my homework.  If you can spot any flaws or omissions I’d be glad to hear about it.  I’m reckoning the panel, plugs, cable, controller, new tilting frames (see previous post) are going to add up to in the region of £300+.