Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Girl Talk contd.

Well the longest birthday (for me this century) on almost the longest day has passed. And it was great to have so many birthday messages, e cards, and one actual old fashioned card card.

As Chris mentioned I did have fun with the Avalon Mist's shopping trolley, yesterday. I had to leave the Marina on foot and get out through the locked gate. I was told to press a button near the gate but I couldn't find the bleeding button, it was hiding from me!. I phoned Chris for help and before he came to my rescue, Norman appeared on the other side and let me out! Now I know where the button is, it took me all my strength to open the highly strung gate. Th trolley and I  made 2 trips to the supermarket and I made a third trip on my own to return a flat pack pine footstool which we didn't want as we have a blue plastic similar item already. The trolley is an icebreaker in meeting people (normally Della serves that role!). On my first trip to the supermarket, I needed directions and a woman in her early 80's walked with me along the pavement. I heard her say to her husband that she was going to show a lady how to get to the supermarket! No words to define me in a particular age group. Funny I am a "lady" now, not "young" lady or "relatively young" lady or "old" lady. Anyway I spouted forth about the joys of trolleyhood and that a trolley should not just be seen as equipment needed for old age or infirmity. It encourages fitness and independenc for me cos it means walking from the boat, means one doesn't need to have a coin to get a supermarket trolley, it can hold the heavy stuff, and the trolley can be filled without proper packing until after it has been checked out. This means identifying the length of conveyor belt needed and placing items so the heavy bulky stuff is at the front and the squashables are last so that I can pack with efficiency. Do not be fooled that you need to fill the trolley right up, each time, you go shopping!
We are now awaiting the hot water to heat up so that we can shower and be ready for cruising off after Norman has come to do the last minute mechanical thingies. The motor is running to charge the batteries blah blah (trolley talk is easier!) and it is rather loud. Oops Norman has just arrived and turned the engine off. Peace but hot water yet??
News just in .....the horn and the spotlight are now working! Watch out world!

Time to get this show on the canal. Laters......

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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.