Nothing more Frustrating

Than house batteries that won’t play the game !

After 4 years of service, one of Rafe’s house batteries finally popped its clogs and a visit to the battery hospital was in order.

These images are all done from a cell phone.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

The original batteries

Batterytown came highly recommended by my son Andrew after he’d just upgraded our old boat Rorqual’s, new house batteries. He’d gone from 220 Amp hours to 450 odd something Amp Hours.. huge! .. plus he’d moved from lead acid to AGM’s too.

I’d been reading in some of the overseas forums that some of the British Fiat Motorhome owners had a few issues with the batteries that came fitted with some of the Fiat based motorhomes of the same age as Rafe. And sure enough, I had the same brand as well. Although to be fair, I always thought 4 years was about as much as you could expect from a bunch of house batteries.

They’re not easy to get at in the Globe 4 as they’re under the drivers seat but its only a 10 minute job getting the seat out. If you’re doing it yourself as I did, be careful when you pull the seat out that you carefully disconnect the air bag and seatbelt sensor cables when you lift the seat off the pillar! Its all in one big Yellow plug tucked down the side of the seat.

On a Dethleffs too.. Make sure that you disconnect the Solar Array by pulling the fuse out BEFORE you disconnect the old batteries or you’ll fry the control panel (Expensive!)

Only one of my batteries had died but you can’t put a new battery alongside an old one as the old one will kill off the new one in double quick time.

Top down of the new Batteries Handbrake lever on the right

The brand that came recommended in the UK was the German brand Varta and they were getting a much better run out of them than anything else. This also was the brand that Batterytown recommended as well so I was pleased about that.

Apparently they have some new technology silicone on the plates which stops the sulphation on them which stops them performing. This apparently gives them a lot longer service life and effectively increases their badged Amp Hour capacity to some degree as well.

It could be marketing stuff but it all sounds good and if its working for the Brits, it must be ok.

Greg load testing them.. passed with flying colours

So after fitting them I was off to get them tested,  just to give me peace of mind. I have in the past fitted brand new house batteries on Rorqual and found a couple over the years with dead cells straight out of the plastic wrapping !

After the load test.. from 10v up to 12.6 in a blink!

So all good.. we’re off now for another 5 or more years hopefully with some new Varta batteries.

The new Batteries all ready to go

They’re also a nice white colour too.

On the Estuary.. Stunning

One of my all time favorite places in the world is Mangawhai. We’ve even (I have anyway 🙂 ) thought about buying here for later years 🙂 I’m not winning that one though… so far.

Click on the Images for Hi Res


Heading up this way midweek with some fairly dubious and cold weather forecasts, it was the first on my list of places to check out.

Great Spot

Noela was very helpful in the Mangawhai Holiday Park office and showed me where everything was. There are two parts to the camp with the office in the midde. I was given a spot on the northern end right on the waters edge which was just magic.

Nice and Quiet

With just a small hop over the rail and a trot down the beach, you can actually go for miles. There are a couple of good walkways too around to the surf beach (10 mins) and a walk up into the hills which takes you further along by the Mangawhai Heads surf beach.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

The cost for a powered site for 1 was $20 with really nice toilets and showers. Water was right on the park.

Looking back to Mangawhai

There’s something about Mangawhai which I really like. Maybe its just the laid back atmosphere. The Museum is amazing too and is just up the road.

Looking back

I spent the night there before catching up with some old friends Les and Liz who have a sizeable lifestyle block up here with an amazing old villa. They escaped the rat race of Auckland some 13 years ago and just love it here.

Tides Out

A really nice spot and I bet it is busy in Summer.

The Netspeed Speed test here ..with the old router.
Download: 7.25 Mbps
Upload: 0.68 Mbps
Ping: 75 ms

Rafe’s Tracker map

Sneaking in a week day break

When you’re self employed and the busy time is the weekend, its hard to get away and clear the head.

Click on an Image to see Hi Res 

Rick and Suzanne with their Caravan

Cafe owners, Rick and Suzanne from Greenhithe, were my neighbours at Mangawhai and they were having a quiet few midweek days away in their Elddis Caravan before having to head back and get back into it again.

Galley and Living space

They’ve had their 5.4 metre Avante for nearly 3 years and although they’ve been mostly doing short trips to escape their work, they have been up as far as Cape Reinga.

Galley area

The Elddis is one of the better English caravans and is really nicely kitted out. This one has the dinette and one end, with Kitchen amidships and a french bed on the right with the bathroom across the back. It is a popular layout and when you see it you can see why. There is still plenty of room to move about in.

French bed

One of the accessories that they were really happy with was the awning for over their door which looks great for a windy or showery day.

When I first arrived, they arrived soon after and promptly set up a table for lunch with a very celubrious lunch with wine. It looked fabulous. They certainly know how its done. 🙂

Living area

One of the other interesting things with the Elddis Caravans is that they are now part of the massive Hymer Group.

Away in the Wet

Our friends Rob and Helen were keen to get out to play Motorhomes and we were keen too!

As the weekend weather was looking pretty naff, we thought somewhere local would be the ticket. After some false starts, we settled on Pinewoods at Red Beach.

I last came here a year ago and back then they were setting out some new concrete parking for Motorhomes. Thats all done now and it looks great and  apparently they’ve been working really well.  So well that they’re looking at putting some more in.

Nice concrete pads

Pinewoods is run by a company of Bach owners and the Motorcamp is run as part of this.

Some of the baches up on the hill

The showers and access to a nice TV lounge, and Kitchen are included in the price. There is also a coin operated Laundry for those who need this.

More Baches

The forecasted weather was bang on and it was naff but we had a nice time in Rafe for happy hour. Helen had made a nice Lasagne and we added some chicken and bits so we moved to the Tracker later. A great fun night.

The best table Tennis table I’ve ever seen!

Early in the morning, I went for a walk around to see if I could get some updated piccies around and after that the others went for a look around.

From Jacobs Ladder looking towards Orewa

Right at the top of the camp, there are some well fenced concrete steps which run down the cliff to the rocks called Jacobs Ladder. From here you can see right up to Kawau and across to Orewa.

Around the other side is a direct track through to Red Beach which comes out behind the Surf Club.

Red Beach

At $18 each with the NZMCA discount, its priced reasonably and is a nice place to stay and if you live in Auckland, its not far away.

The Netspeed Speedtest here
Download: 15.13 Mbps
Upload: 2.16 Mbps
Ping: 20 ms
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-36.601808,174.705547

Rafe’s Tracker map

Faster, shiny Wifi !!

Just recently, the good folk at Netspeed showed me a new secret weapon for my Wifi.  A new router and its FAST!

Neat, something new

The big differences apart from it having some new shiny hidden bits that bring in a stronger signal and better management of the aerials, is that the new router is 2.4ghz and 5 ghz and also Wifi AC. The old router is Wifi N and 2.4 ghz only.

What does all this mean I hear you ask. Even as an ex ISP manager myself, I had to look it up to find out and this is what I found.

Once you have setup the router which you can do by just turning it on, its that simple. The router will send two signals for your phone or ipad,  the 2.4 or the 5ghz. Its your choice which one you use.

New Router

The 2.4ghz is slower but can reach further but is susceptible to interference from some other devices as it works on a crowded frequency. This is what most of us use now and is probably good for using outside and around your Motorhome.

The old Router with the new.

The 5 ghz is much faster as its a higher frequency but doesn’t do distance but within your motorhome, you won’t have a problem. It is FAST believe me!

The old and new back on

The other Major difference…. 
The Wifi AC is nice and shiny and new and as one techy told me, it is the difference between a Ferrari and a sedan. It has a lot more speed, supports a lot more people on the same router and does what is known as beamforming. As I understand it, this means it finds out where you are and strengthens the signal is your direction. Sounds a wee bit spooky 🙂

The speed improvements are something else.
Here’s what I got in our driveway in Devonport.

With the old modem..
Download: 41.77 Mbps
Upload: 33.28 Mbps
Ping: 51 ms

With the new one in the same location, the same day.
Download: 94.6 Mbps
Upload: 29.6 Mbps
Ping: 41 ms

While I did the speedtest, as the dial only goes up to 60mbs, I was waiting for the guage to snap 🙂

The new Router in place

Its fast. If you want one of these new shiny things and turbo charge your Netspeed connection, get in touch with the friendly crew at Netspeed.

Everyone has a Jetty

Over our boating years, both Alan and I have had some amazing moments in both Bon Accord harbour at Kawau and around Kawau so being  driven around on the ferry so we could have a good look with a commentary was a real treat.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Lidgards and Kawau Yacht club

Alan does one of the biggest, if not the biggest Wooden Boating Blogs around called Waitematawoodys.com and was on the Classic Yacht Association committee with me for several years.  We have been known to sneak away in Rafe for the odd boys trip which are always fun!

We left Rafe about 9:30 from the Sandspit Holiday Park and wandered along the road to the wharf to get our tickets and check in.  So after having a cuppa at the café on the wharf we set off about 10:30 for Kawau.

Mansion House

Being an Island and only accessible by boat, Kawau Island has only a handful of roads and a handful of vehicles.

His and Hers

Almost all the houses only have water only access and the way they’ve been built either on top of a hill with their own chairlifts (think electric Wheely Bin on a rail 🙂 ) with a jetty at the bottom or on the water. Some of them are amazing but I suspect most would be either baches, occupied by retired folk or who don’t have to commute.

Kawau Yacht Club

We were on the Royal Mail boat which started at Vivian Bay in the north and worked its way around to Bon Accord Harbour and Mansion House Bay and then down to South Cove where there was mail to be dropped off. On the way back to Mansion House Bay for lunch, we passed the Old Copper Mine.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Kawau was huge source of copper in the mid 1800’s with a community of around 300 related to the Mine and its output at its peak. By the 1800’s it all fizzled out and most of the miners moved on to the Gold Fields.

The remains of the Copper Mine

After a walk around the Mansion House and the coffee shop, we eventually made our way back to the ferry. It was nice barrelling along at 15 knots in the sun with a glass of Pinot Gris in hand.

Alan getting off the Ferry
Friendly Peacocks on the lawn

We walked back to Rafe in the Sandspit Holiday Park and prepared ourselves for a meal at Sandspit Yacht Club.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Half a Million Hits !!

Its a huge milestone and we finally got there..

Some of you probably aren’t aware of the number on the top right of the blog but thats the total number of hits that have come our way.

The Hits on the right

You’re not alone and its really interesting where everyone comes from. Most hits come from NZ but there are a lot of you from the UK and around Europe as well. The Dethleffs Users UK have been big supporters too.. Thanks Richard!

Where the hits came from over the last year.

We started the Blog way back in August 2015. One of the first posts was about a Fiamma clothesline I installed on the bike rack on the back of Rafe which as been really useful and it was nice to see that it got some good hits again just in the last week!

When Fiona and I went to the South Island last year, it became very obvious how often we were recognised and how well read the Blog actually is. Thanks to everyone that made themselves known .
It was really nice to meet so many of you and get your feedback.

Thanks again for your support.. Now to get to the Million Hits!