Thursday, 16 June 2011

Almost Ready

Crikey, it feels like we have been here for ages BUT we haven't yet! Yesterday was a mad shopping day full of screaming children in the same shops we went to! Then we got home and the batteries hadn't held their charge and I almost lost it! Actually, I think I did. But I slept and woke up to the tweeting birds at 515. Got stuck into my neurotic habits and by 1430 I was packing away my clothes and ready for a shower. Chris started the motor 1/2 hour before shower time and I had a lovely hot water drenching....Baaa. Yeah living the dream is not always as sunny as it sounds but we are coming up roses now. One folding bike is up and running and #2 is in progress as I type. I have spent the day wiping any surface, washing the plethora of china & crockery left by the previous owner and biffing, I mean giving to charity, the items that are surplus to our needs. Chris got a pound token from the Charity Shop! Now charity shops, that's another story, but they abound in Devizes.(..not to mention Eastbourne).  I did buy a classical guitar at the Heart Foundation shop in Eastbourne. It is an EKO ("mildly collectable" said Bonners, the music shop. I thought the shop was called Bono's!!) and when I get a moment I will restring it. Captain Pugwash cleaned out the bow deck (for'd) as it was awash with oil! But all shiny clean and looking good covered with tools & bikes!

On the flat roof we have vegie plants to plant out (thanks Christinepops). At the moment they are getting a natural watering throughout the day. Thankfully Mother Nature is keeping the canals watered.
Well time to cook the Devon potatoes, green beans & sausages. It has been a hectic day but we are nearly ready to take AM out. I need to get my floaters Badge and we both need to get started cruising the canals.

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A brief history

This is a blog set up by Chris and Sarah so family and friends can catch up with their travels on the British waterways in the summer of 2011. In 2010, I went to England with the idea of getting a narrow boat built. I had specific requirements so I thought that a new build may be the way to go. I e mailed to numerous boat builders, a great percentage of whom ignored me. The problem of having a family name of Laycock is that hotmail and a few others think that I am a porn star. At an early age you learn not to put C Laycock on your school books. But I guess that my nephew Paul did worse. Anyway I spent a very pleasant few weeks driving around the beautiful English countryside visiting boatyards, marinas, boat builders and just a few pubs. I had narrowed it down to two builders and in the last week I was in Devizes Wiltshire when I came across "Avalon Mist" 54 feet of throbbing neglected narrow boat. The past owner had lost interest, hadn’t maintained her and to add insult to injury had been made redundant. After a very short negotiation I was able to buy her for a pretty fair price. On the day the sale took place I had to beg her to take her trainers and a few rather suspect items of clothing, in other words she left everything. Lock stock and barrel.

Soon after the purchase I flew to California to meet Sarah and have a short holiday. Once back in NZ I started to try and organize works. The first thing that I learnt was that the marina does not allow any contractor on site, only their chosen ones, the excuse given is a concern about insurance, the suspicion is, graft, pay back, baksheesh, call it what you like. It is possible to take the boat off the marina to have the work done, but not really practical.

The first job to be tackled was to “winterize” the boat, i.e. drain off all the water, check the anti freeze in the engine and central heating and fit an automatic bilge pump.

No real problem there except communication, the mechanic just didn’t answer e mails. Difficult to do business like that.

The nice marina lady had a quiet word with him, and things did improve, thanks Debs you have been a star through out . He later confided in me the reason for this was that he was dyslexic, apparently a malady [he] claims affects a lot of mechanics.[It turns out that he is a great mechanic and a nice guy to boot].

That goes pretty high on my list of lame excuses, the top one being a really nice Irish guy Pat, who I had employed as a carpenter years ago when I lived in London. He was always a bit late for work, when I finally collared him about it; he said he could never decide what to wear to work.

Nice one Pat.

I digress, the boat was winterized, which was just as well as it was a cold one and the whole marina froze over.

Next job was to have her taken out of the water, have the hull stripped back to bare metal and have a bit of over plating done. There were a couple of areas where there was pitting, and I though if she’s out of the water, may as well do the job right, so a small amount of over plating and then the hull was blacked, and the engine bay partially de-rusted and then back in the water.

Seems like a good job was done, I had the marine surveyor who had done the original survey, check out all the major works and give me written reports and photos, so all good except once again communications.

I then came across a great guy, the partner of the woman who runs the marina and a carpenter/narrow boat fitter outer .He replaced the stern deck and did a great job, also did a great job on de-greasing, de-rusting and painting the engine compartment. A job I should have done myself, but I just didn’t fancy it, not only that be was great with communications and chasing other people up

So that takes us up to present.

There needs to be a bit of electrical work, not much. The outside is badly in need of paint, Sarah and I can do that and a bit of a tidy up inside, and then she will be a really nice boat.