Showing posts from June, 2016

A Productive Weekend

This weekend has been relatively productive where our to-do-list is concerned. Me and Dad have blitzed through a number of jobs that needed doing which is great.

For one, we tested the new LED courtesy lighting in the cockpit on Friday night and then on Saturday morning, I cable tied all the wiring up to existing wiring so it's out the way of the engines and other hazards in the engine bay. I spend a good couple of hours tidying up older wiring that hadn't been done properly. Not only is this safer but it looks far neater and out sight. The lights themselves have turned out brilliantly. They really illuminate the three steps in the cockpit when it gets dark so we can actually see where we're stepping. They will come in real handy when we head out for the evening and return to the boat late at night in the dark. Very happy!

On the subject of lighting, we also fitted two bright LED lights in blue to either side of the bathing platform outside the boat. I've wired them up…

More LED Lighting!

I recently ordered two stainless steel oblong LED courtesy lights that I mounted to the two stairs leading down to the galley. The idea of these lights being that they will provide more of a practical glow instead of being there just for show. The LED lights were a mere £7.50 each from eBay and actually turned out to be really good quality lights with a nice stainless steel, flush finish. The LED's inside the light are arranged to face downwards which nicely glow onto the step which is just what we wanted.

Becuase I was so happy with how these two lights looked and performed, I decided to order three more which I have flush mounted in the cockpit to provide us with a practical glow wherever needed. There is one above the port side step and another above the starboard side step which we will use a lot in the evenings when moored side on along the river. The last one I mounted is just below the transom door at the rear of the cockpit. We've always found that there is never much …

More Problems

You read that correctly. We have encountered more problems with Bandit. :(

More specifically, it began when Dad realised the strong smell of petrol coming from somewhere in the guest cabin. First thoughts were is it coming from the engine compartment or beneath the guest bed where the fuel tanks are located? A quick check of the engine bay revealed a petrol-soaked starboard engine. The new (yes, NEW) starboard Rochester carburetor has flooded and was leaking from the gasket, dripping onto the manifolds and running down the side of the engine. In short, not a great thing to be happening when spark plugs are present. We've contacted the company in which we purchased these carbs from and they've given us a piece of advice; remove the carb, turn it upside down and whack it with a hammer. They believe that the needle valve that regulated petrol coming into the carb has got stuck or that the float has got stuck, allowing too much petrol to enter the carb, forcing it to overfill and …

Some New LED Lighting

Last week, I ordered a couple of 12V stainless steel courtesy lights that I could mount on the stairs leading down to the galley. They were cheaper than others that I had looked at but I felt like they looked just as nice, if not nicer. They arrived yesterday so I planned to head down to the boatyard after I finished college to fit them.

They were quickly fitted and wired up to our Blue Sea Systems switch panel; a new set of switches that we added to the bulkhead down below that houses things such as the 12v and 240v Sealine control panels. This way, we could always add other auxiliaries that needed to be switched and they could all be in the same place.

The LED courtesy lights themselves look good for the money I paid. They were only £7.50 each with free postage and packaging. To be honest, if they had arrived and didn't look very good then it wouldn't have been a problem. They weren't expensive so I would have just not fitted them and accepted the fact that I'd lost …

Bandit's Compass

The compass of a boat is the most important piece of equipment you have.

For us, being on the river means there is no use for a compass in reality. We don't use the chart plotter for navigational purposes but to add waypoints along the river like pubs etc... The banks of the river are never more than 100 feet apart, in fact. However, we do plan to use Bandit at sea in the near future. When we bought Bandit, we were told that the compass' backlight had failed and that we would have to replace either the entire unit or the LED. This was something on our less important jobs list. I remembered today that we needed to look at the compass and thought I'd have a look at it there and then to see what was going on. LED's are so reliable that it sounded unlikely that it had broken. We also wanted to remove the compass as the plastic dome had fogged up and it made it nearly impossible to read.

Our goal was to attempt to mend the compass that Bandit was fitted with 25 years ago at…

Life on the River

As you'd expect, any time spent on any boat is great. It's especially brilliant for me because I use Bandit as a way of escaping the 'real world' at the weekends and evenings. It's a place where I can find time to relax and generally spend time doing what I have a passion for. It's important to get away from college stress and just enjoy the weather, wildlife and the water while I can.

The 2016 boating season has technically kicked off now but due to the awful weather we're currently getting in Cambridgeshire, there isn't much traffic on the water. To some, a quiet river is more their scene. However, I like a busy river because it makes it that little bit more interesting. There are more friendly people to talk to who share the same interest as you and I quite like some excitement and challenge when driving Bandit so a busy river for me is great. It's nice meeting new people and listening to their stories about their own boats. More times than not, …

Rained Out

The weather this week has not been too brilliant. On the upside, we've had warm temperatures at about 23ºC for most of the week but this type of weather usually welcomes thunderstorms.

We've had thunder and lightning on and off all week and along with that, Mother Nature has also sent us torrential rain. The part of the river that we are based on is very much affected by the rain. The Ouse runs up as far as Bedford right the way to Kings Lynn. On the map, we are based closer to Kings Lynn way (which is downstream) and therefore, any rain that the river collects upstream will find its way down to us within a couple of days.
Bandit has a very high air draught and because of this, if the river rises,we are in the selection of boats that become stranded on a very small stretch of river. As you turn out of the marina, there is a lock on the very left. If the river is too high, we can't get through the guillotine at the downstream end of the lock. Looking to the right, heading u…


Today marks the 13th year since my Grandad Tom lost his battle with cancer. He died on 8th June 2003. Like me, he had a big interest in boats and had himself a 1989 Sea Ray 220DA called Jeana. The boat had a black canopy and a huge Mercruiser petrol engine with Alpha One drive. I don't remember much as I was four years old which is a real shame. I do, however, remember visiting him in his hospice while he was quite ill and then after he passed away, I remember seeing his Sea Ray 220DA moored up at the marina where he had kept in since he purchased it. He berthed Jeana at Ashlett Creek in the New Forrest, Southampton for a very long time and would use the boat to cruise over to the Isle Of White at the weekends. Clearly back when petrol was far cheaper than it is now.

Before he died, we all decorated a big colourful box that we would keep his personal possessions in after he had passed. When the time came, my Nan put everything in the box and most of it has been kept at her home in…

A Productive Couple of Days

Over the last couple of days, I've been taking advantage of the fact that I have two weeks off from college and have been zooming through a good number of the jobs that have been building up since we got Bandit back in January.

The biggest job me and Dad have accomplished is getting both the port and starboard engines working. It's taken us months but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. We've finally got our carbs on and they are now working as they should. However, there is still some tuning to be done to get those twin 4.3l V6 engines running as smoothly as they should. We've looked at getting something called a 'Colour Tune Spark Plug' which is made specially to tune the carburetor fuel/air mixture. You simply screw it in and watch for a blue or yellow flame. Blue indicating the fuel/air mixture is just right and yellow being far from it...or something like that. Some researching to be done clearly.

We also fitted two new rotor arms to bot…

Five New Fluffy Arrivals

Recently, we've had five new arrivals in the marina.

We have been watching the female swan sit on her nest for the last couple weeks and finally her five, fluffy, small cygnets have hatched. We witnessed them take their first swim today with their mum and dad and all went well. They swam around the marina for a bit then headed back to their nest for a rest. These two swans have had a good history with keeping their previous cygnets safe. The biggest issue for them in the marina are rats eating their eggs, which is now no longer a problem, and foxes. Last year, the marina staff put a mesh fence around her nesting area so no fox could get in there without getting into the water. This worked very well last year so I hope they try to do something similar this year.


After a day of tinkering, we finally got there - both of our newly reconditioned Rochester Quadrajet carburettors are on the engines and are working!

Yesterday, we had removed the 25-year-old carb from the port engine and strapped our new one back on. We had been told that all we had to do was start the engine and do some minor adjustments to the fuel/air mixture screws in order to get the engine running perfectly. Yeah right...

Nothing we did worked. We began with bolting the carb on and tried to fire her up. No luck. The engine would simply not start. It would occasionally fire, but never actually run.

So this morning, we continued the long process of adjusting the fuel/air mixture screws, 1/4 turn at a time, trying to start her but failing each time. We were then having to leave the engine 15 minutes each time to dry out as the carb had flooded it with petrol. This went on for about two hours. We then gave up and fitted our second new carb to the starboard engine.

We made sure that…

Out With The Old, In With The New

So today we decided to remove the old Rochester Quadrajet carburetor from the port engine and replace it with one of the new ones we'd ordered from the States.

So far, things haven't gone too smoothly...again. The company we purchased the carbs from claimed it had been pre-set for a Volvo Penta 4.3L engine but things didn't really seem that way when we tried to fire her up. This could be completely down to the characteristic of our specific engine, though. The engine simply won't start. We have had some success with attempting to play around with the fuel to air mixture screws but the engine still won't run. The screws were set at 4.5 turns outwards when they arrived and we've been told they should be no more than 2 turns outwards. So, we've turned them in and have slowly turned them out 1/4 at a time. We've had better luck though as the engine is actually firing, just not running yet. Dad reckons it could be where the oil has dried out where the engine…

Bandit's New Carburetors

Today, our reconditioned Rochester Quadrajet carburetors arrived. Every bit of the two carbs have been replaced, apart from the metal casing which has been sandblasted and powder coated. They are practically brand new carburettors. Happy days!

It's been five long months of tinkering around inside the engine bays trying to get Bandit's twin Volvo Penta AQ205A 4.3l V6 petrol engines running as they should be. We've done so many things to the engines in an attempt to get them running as they should but everything we've done has made no difference what so ever.

After removing both the factory-fitted Rochester carbs, it was clear that they were very well used. We were convinced that these old carbs were the source of our problems so we decided to splash out on two reconditioned ones, that are practically brand new, and we will fit them one evening this week and see what happens.

The company we purchased the carburetors from are located in the USA. They did take their time t…

Flotilla to Ely - Day 4

Monday 30th May 2016
Flotilla to Ely - Day 4

Sunday morning was by far one of the worst mornings we have had on Bandit. It was horrifically windy, overcast and cold. Even more so than the day before. It was really nerve-racking for me as we had to get back to our home marina in Saint Ives today; a 5-hour trip. It was going to very difficult for us with our single engine and I really hate being out in the wind. Even with our twin engine Mirage with the Vetus bow thruster, it was always horrible being out in the wind.

Anyway, we tried to put that to the side for the moment and went round to Josie to have one last crack at trying to get their engine running. We tried for about an hour and came to the conclusion that it was something more than just a loose wire. They were happy to do the journey home with a single engine which put us both in the same situation. We both knew that it would not be easy to navigate the Old West River in this wind. The river in question is extremely shallow and…

Flotilla to Ely - Day 3

Sunday 29th May 2016
Flotilla to Ely - Day 3

The third day of our adventure was the day we planned to stay at Ely and relax. We didn't move the boat at all. We stayed moored where we were and walked into town several times, visited Cathedral Marina at Ely and just generally enjoyed our 'holiday' away.

When we began our trip on Friday, the weather was lovely and warm with mainly full sun. It was very much identical on Saturday as well which was fantastic for our 5-hour cruise down to Ely. We had the canopy flipped back at the front, above the helm and it really enjoyed our cruise down, apart from the breakdowns. The winds were barely noticeable and it really was perfect weather for boating. Then Sunday arrived and it was absolutely horrible. The sun had completely disappeared and the wind had reached about 25mph throughout the day. We were thankful that we had got a good mooring and didn't plan to head off anywhere until the following morning. We still made the most of w…

Flotilla to Ely - Day 2

Due to lack of Wi-Fi or 4G signal while away for the last few days, I was unable to post any updates. I'll post the next three day's updates at once instead.

Saturday 28th May 2016
Flotilla to Ely - Day 2

Alarms went off at 9:00 and we got straight to business. We woke up, had some breakfast and said morning to the other boats that were going to be tagging along on this journey. We had moored up at the Pike & Eel marina overnight so we could set off straight to Ely in the morning. The Pike & Eel marina is basically a huge field and over the damp evening, little mosquitos had stuck to the outside of the boat absolutely covering every inch Bandit. After a quick hose off, the flies were gone. We gave the boat a quick wash while we were at it so she looked nice rolling up at Ely when we eventually got there.

While we did this, Josie had her diesel tanks topped up to ensure they could get there and back. We had all planned to use our VHF radios to keep in touch along the way.…