Sherwood Diary: testing our fixed electrical setup

On the 15th February we dropped off the Sherwood with Ken Peachey for a long list of tasks. Repair the step, which kept sticking. New touch lights for dinette. Installation of Sirocco fan. Reconnect second battery and inverter. Check water leak in cabinet.

It took a few days, but they managed to cover it all. We had to have a new inverter as the old one had failed. It’s probably due to the fault that the whole system shut down when we were in Port Hedland last year.

To test out the system we decided to have a couple of nights in the Sherwood using the inverter and our electrical applicances. Our first night was at Pinaroo Point on Friday night (3rd March). We left at about 6.00 p.m., hoping to avoid the traffic, but it was still fairly busy on the road. Our first meal was a leftover curry with rice and I used our rice cooker only, using the gas stove to heat up the meal. As it was late and we were hungry I didn’t want to wait to use electricity (we usually use one applicance at a time).

It was a comfortable night. The shorter days mean that even on hot days we usually get some relief in the evenings. Having our Sirocco fan on helped as well. We were using it as a portable 12v fan and it certainly makes it easier to have it fixed in place. One less item to store as well.

In the morning Stephen felt we should rise early, just in case there was any question about us sleeping there, I think. There were fewer vans than the last time, but one family had two cars, two trailers, and had set up a swag tent, very blatantly camping and the police car which came in the evening just cruised by. I expect they are biding their time as the building next to the carpark is to be a pub/cafe/restaurant. Once that is up and running I’m not sure we will be able to camp there. Partly due to noise and partly due to the lack of space as I think the car park may be overwhelmed. Not good news for local families and other people wanting to use the beach.

The day was fairly cool and after our swim and breakfast we took a walk along as far as the dog beach. It was very busy and had a coffee van as well as the dog washing crew hard at work. There is also an area for horses and we found a vantage point to watch children riding bareback, with the horses being lead around, sometimes into the waves.

For our second night we were staying in the car park outside of Eversley’s apartment. She ferried us and another friend to a local Thai Restaurant in the Karrinyup Shopping Centre. Part of the new development is a large area with outdoor/indoor cafes and restaurants. It’s very attractive. The food was very good and served quickly, a surprise as it was quite busy.

Afterwards Eversley drove the friend home and I went with her for company on the way back. In the Sherwood Stephen had relaxed and put the water heater on so it was ready for me to shower on return.

We slept well and were ready by 7.30 a.m. for the next activity of the weekend, going on a group bird count around the lake. I caved earlier than the others, my excuse being that we had forgotten to put the fridge on before leaving. We had taken the Sherwood to the nearby carpark where the group had gathered. As well as putting the inverter on and connecting the fridge to 230v I made a coffee using the pod machine and milk frother. I often run the milk frother at the same time as the coffee machine. Our new inverter is only 2000w and it tripped with the fridge on as well. However, it was easy to reset it.

The solar works much harder to produce power when we are staying in the Sherwood. In this way it is able to keep the batteries well charged despite the drain of using 230v applicances. It was good to see that it handles the fridge as we want to be able to power it through the inverter when we stop during the day when travelling, rather than have to bother with getting out to switch on the gas, and remember to switch it off again more critically. On a very cloudy day we might use gas, but if we are going to keep driving the DCtoDC charger will ensure that the batteries are full again by the time we are ready to set up for the night.

After the walking part of the bird count we sat around and found out that ‘bird count’ is simply checking off all of the different birds that people had seen, not actually counting how many. People had bought morning tea with them, I made Stephen a cup of coffee and offered ginger nuts.

On return home we mostly unpacked the Sherwood before having lunch and a rest. The rest was necessary because we were going to a concert at Point Walter in the evening. It was free, the music was on the theme of Songs of Freedom and the artists from the Pilbara put on a wonderful show, including video backgrounds to the stage which really added to the atmosphere. There were food trucks, including one offering Kangaroo meat dishes, that was the least patronised. I had to wait about 40 minutes for our food, but it was worth it. We also had our own drinks and snacks.

All in all, a busy and very enjoyable weekend. Matt came to tea last night and spent time with Stephen working in the garden until tea was ready. Usually he comes inside to help with cooking. He hasn’t been eating well, so I made him up a bowl of food the same size as Stephen’s and he surprised us by eating all of it, refusing nice cakes for desert, and having a full cup of coffee afterwards. He seemed quite relaxed even though he was in a manual wheelchair. His electric chair is being repaired and manual chair is on loan. They transfer his specialised seat, but it doesn’t have the same belt or side panel on it. Fortunately, when he is relaxed, he doesn’t push himself sideways in the chair, just because he can!

I wrote this entry a few days ago, but waited as I wanted to carefully add some photos. However, that hasn’t happened, so I’ve just quickly uploaded a few to give the flavour of the weekend.

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