Solar Courtesy Lights

Having pondered fitting some solar courtesy lights for some time and receiving advice from Shaun, another Piper owner,  I decided that with winter approaching it was time to act.

Unfortunately the lights that Shaun recommended were not in stock so I finally plumped for a couple of Juslit 74 LED lights, 600 lumens, from Amazon.  They are motion activated, can be switched to either off, 50% illumination or 100% illumination.  After a few days use, we now know that the 50% illumination level is perfectly adequate.  The unit is waterproof, heat-resistant and frost-resistant.  It is compact ( 6″ x 4″)  and is activated from about 20 ft away within a 120° arc.  The light has a 270° arc.

As I wanted to attach them on the steel part of our wheelhouse, I purchased some 10mm dia x 2mm Neodymium magnets with 1kg pull each.   I fixed them to the lights with 3M self adhesive pads, cut to suit the magnets.  The advantage of them being fixed with magnets is that I can easily move them from one place to another if and when the need arises.

There are lots of options when it comes to light so I just thought it worthwhile to post this for information.

The photographs below are:

1). The light itself.

2). The rear of the light showing the magnets attached

3). The light at 50% illumination

4).  The light at 100% illumination.


Los Hervaderos, Lanzarote

A short video I filmed while on holiday last week at Los Hervideros (literally the ‘Boiling Waters’) which is a series of caves and blow holes which have been eroded into a former Lava flow on the rugged coastline of Lanzarote.

As the waves crash into the caves, mountains of white surf are produced, giving the appearance of ‘Boiling Waters’.


Impressive boat handling

Here is a short video taken by a passenger who was waiting to board the Staffa ferry.   Staffa is the small island off the west coast of Scotland where Fingal’s Cave is located.

This little island (0.5 miles long and 0.25 miles wide) looks like it may be from a different planet. Its hexagonal columns were formed millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions and a vast blanket of lava that spread into the Atlantic Ocean. Years of waves crashing against these columns created the magnificent Fingal’s Cave.

Staffa was hardly known until 1772, when the botanist Joseph Banks highlighted the wild, natural beauty of the island. It soon became a must-see location. Famous visitors have included Queen Victoria, Lord Tennyson, Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and John Keats; all fell under the island’s spell.

Staffa was placed into the care of the National Trust for Scotland in 1986, a gift from John Elliott, Jr, of New York in honour of his wife Elly’s birthday.

Staffa was designated a National Nature Reserve in 2001.

Stern deck canopy fitted. What a difference!


You can see my previous post about stage 1 of this project here:

Steve from Titan Boat Canopies arrived early yesterday morning (we delayed him from last week due to Henley Regatta making the town very busy) and despite the soaring temperatures, he boldly soldiered on and completed our stern deck canopy.

He has spent a considerable amount of time and effort in helping us get to what we thought we wanted and his enthusiasm to produce a quality product with exacting fit was very impressive.

We are absolutely delighted with the end product.

We have also replaced the wheelhouse and dog box cover to be in the same material/finish.P1020736

The clear plastic window screens can be individually rolled up or removed completely to give a bimini style canopy, or can be replaced with an ivory coloured set of fly screens, which allow air to circulate, whilst giving some privacy and, hopefully, keeping out the bugs when they are around.



As with most thing when it comes to boats, there is always a compromise.   In our case, due to the Piper 57N having a rising stern deck, it has been necessary to increase our air draught by 250mm.   This is not necessarily desirable but in our case, we consider that the benefits of having the canopy that we wanted outweighed the minor inconvenience of increasing our air draught, which may result ion having to remove the canopy and framework occasionally more often than previous.   However, given our long term cruising plans, we are expecting this to be a minimal downside.

One upside of the increased air draught is that we have gained a valuable new storage area on the stern end of the wheelhouse roof where we can store a couple of lightweight chairs and the canopy sides and doors neatly out of the way.


A final word about the supplier, Titan Boat Canopies.   We highly recommend them.   They have been very honest and straightforward from the start.  For example, I first called them in February of this year and Steve told me straight away that he would love to manufacture a canopy for us but at that time, his order book was such that it would be May before he could do it.   After some deliberation we accepted that fact and decided to go with them.   We are very glad that we made that decision, for all the reasons mentioned above and simply because we are delighted with the end result.

We have no affiliation with Titan, other than that of a customer.


Canopy manufacture under way

The manufacture of our stern deck canopy is underway.   It is being made by Titan Boat Canopies, based in Cambridgeshire.

Steve, the owner of Titan provided us with a very good quote and we subsequently placed our order.   He came to discuss our detailed requirements and to take measurements for the stainless steel frame.   Once the frame was made, they fitted it to the boat.


and then produce a great piece of equipment to take detailed measurements for the manufacture of the canopy.  The simplest description I can give is that it was a computer with and extending wire attached and a pen attached to the end of the wire.


Steve then began to touch the frame in lots of places and as he was doing so, the computer was designing the basis for the canopy cover.

If you look closely, you can see the result in the shot below (unfortunately my shadow is on the screen).


So now, Steve has taken the digitized plan back to his workshop for the production of the canopy to be started.   The next step is to “first fit” the new canopy and make any necessary adjustments before taking bit back to the workshop for final finishing and then fitting it to the boat.

You can see my article on the completion of this project here:


Motorcycle onboard!

bike web 1

After spending many hours thinking about, designing, producing and co-ordinating the fitting of my motorcycle platform, today was the day when I finally got to load up my bike.   Loading it was very straight forward using the ramp which stores under the platform and it was easy to secure the bike into into the bike grab (which holds it upright), using ratchet straps and a handlebar tie down system which compresses the forks slightly and holds the bike firmly into the web 2

Finally, I fitted an overall cover to protect the bike from the Canada Goose droppings!





Wheelhouse window blinds sorted!

We have spent many hours trying to decide how we were going to solve the issue of window coverings for the wheelhouse windows.    We wanted something that would be visually attractive and serve the triple purpose of partially blocking out the sunlight when we are sitting in there, blacking out the windows when anyone is sleeping in the occasional double berth in there and to hide the interior from prying eyes when we leave the boat unattended.

The difficulty in choosing was that the wheelhouse folds down to accommodate access under low bridges and it has three arch topped front windows.

We were offered many suggestions of different possibilities by different people but we were having great difficulty in deciding what would suit us best.

In the end, after much deliberation, we decided that 25mm aluminium venetian blinds would be the best solution for us.    We contacted a local blind supplier who visited us and quoted £1200 to supply and fit the blinds.   This was a little more than we had anticipated so I was prompted to measure each window and see what I could buy the blinds for.   I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could buy all eleven made to measure blinds for £300!   Even better, I could order them and they would be delivered next day!

Measurements checked and double checked, I ordered the blinds and they duly arrived next day.   (   Me being me, I had them fitted the next day, am very happy with the results and even happier that I was able to save £900 as compared to the supplier’s quote.

The blinds have given the wheelhouse a much more homely feel as well as serving the purposes we were looking to achieve.




Another week, another trip to Henley

Henley is arguably one of the nicest towns on the river.   It is also a favourite haunt of ours from the 1980’s when we were on the Thames with out 27′ Fjord cruiser, “Mikarla of Welwyn”


It also happens to be a couple of hours cruise from our berth at Dreadnought Reach, which is very convenient when we have day visitors.

We were fortunate this week to have our daughter Becks, her husband Trev and their dog Fudge on board for a day so you can guess where we headed to.   We both feel that we could never tire of visiting Henley and this was another enjoyable trip.

On the way we passed through Sonning,  Shiplake and Marsh lock and of course we passed the impressive Shiplake College although this time we were fortunate that the rowers from the college were occupied elsewhere!

Shioplake College
Shiplake College

As we were arriving in Henley, Fudge took the opportunity to check the place out from the port gunwale.   He’s very comfortable in his new lifejacket!IMG-20170412-WA0004

The ladies went shopping while Trev and I enjoyed a cold beer on the aft deck which also gave Fudge a chance to keep his eye on the local duck population.

We then left Henley………..

A beautiful view of Henley with the Red Duster in the foreground

and headed back to Lashbrook Eyot, where we moored for lunch opposite some of the multi-million pound houses in Lower Shiplake, before heading back to Caversham.P1020248

We also welcomed our youngest daughter Laura and her partner Mark to see the boat this week, but as time was short, we headed to Henley by car for dinner.   However, we managed to squeeze in a quick walk to Marsh Lock before eating.20170416_132831

A hob cover that works

We are making good progress in completing the loading and personalisation of Steel Away.

One item we were particularly interested in sorting out was some sort of cover for our hob, which, as you can see from the photographs, is located on a peninsular worktop in the galley, facing towards the saloon.


After much research I was able to come up with a solution from Hob Covers Direct. (   They offer a fair choice of styles and sizes and after some e-mail communication with the helpful owner of the comapany (Colin), we placed our order and 48 hours later we were in possesion of our hob cover.

I have now fitted it and we are very pleased with it.   As you can see, it serves 3 purposes:

P10202501.   A neat finish over the hob.

P10202522.   A splashback when cooking.

P10202513.   Some additional work space for food preparation.  (We cover it with a vinyl cloth when using it for this) to protect the stainless steel.

Once again, we have no connection with this company other than we have received a good product at at competitive price and excellent service.  On that basis alone, we are happy to recommend them.