Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Oxford Canal, Braunston Bridge 90

July 27th  
Oxford Canal (now sharing it with the Gand Union Canal)   Braunston 

Lady talk…. Pump out the Jam

Well as much as girls will always be girls on the inside, one must realize that on the outside the polite kids see them as a “Lady”. So I have succumbed to Ladyship and will still girl talk but as a Lady on Avalon Mist. 

So the sight in the kazi, this morning, was not really one that anyone would find joy in seeing. I knew what I had for breakfast 2 days ago and did not care to see it as floaters. Enough said we had to get to the Pump out station, pronto, and what a relief to have our tank emptied and a lighter load to cruise over the low water level of the canal. I'm writing this because readers need to know that conditions are not always as we want them. We had to go into a marina for a Pump Out and I had heard the charges were more costly on this canal. So I greeted the nice man with   “What's your best price for a Pump Out? ₤15?” He responded “₤16”. We had thought it would be ₤20 so I agreed and they got the mobile pump out hose and an operator to do the job, so to speak. 

Oh and the weather. Yes there is weather here, similar to an oceanic climate. I am thinking of becoming a weather forecaster as inevitably the forecast is cloud, sun (possibly) and ?% precipitation. We haven’t had much rain but a lot of gray days. Temperatures are not baking but are we bovvered?

The Oxford Canal is narrow, and the locks are narrow and for one boat at a time. There have not been loads of locks on this canal and I am feeling rather old hand at it now. Actually my hands are looking rather old! The gates are a mix of single but double ladders (to wind up the sluices) at one end and double gates at the other end. It is always good if another boat is waiting to come in as we are leaving the double gate end, then I can jump on the boat without needing to close the gates.

When we were in Banbury, I left Chris to fill up with water and get fuel and I took a mega wash to the Laundromat. 2 loads of washing and then drying time cost ₤10. I looked on E Bay to buy a twin tub but thought it would be difficult to get it sent to us at no fixed abode and not fair to have to ask friends to deliver it to us. So I thought I'd soldier on with hand washing. However, we moored at Fenny Compton and the chap moored in front of us got chatting with Chris and said they'd bought a twin tub but it had blown their electrics when they went to use it, as they didn’t have 240V. He had shown a generous streak and bought his wife a large bucket! Chris told me the story, I felt sorry for the wife, but I thought they have a redundant Twin Tub, we have an inverter (240V), and this could have a happy ending. I knocked on their window and within a few minutes I had a Twin Tub to try out. Chris had spent “rest” time, the last couple of days using a sanding disc and wire brush on the angle grinder giving Avalon Mist's body what for then followed by a brush of red oxide. So his “work” clothes were either for the tip or the Twin Tub. The Twin Tub worked wonders on these clothes and, post wash, hung to dry above the bow. Beautiful. ₤55 exchanged hands and we are happy. (The price in the Chandlery was ₤101 for the same Twin Tub, I found out today).

Well on that clean note, I must go and get dinner ready.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sometimes girls have to scream.

July 20th   near Banbury

We motored on to the mighty Thames, a river where BIG fiber-glass cabin cruisers are available for rental if you don’t own one. A bit too flashy and soulless for the likes of us and I did put it to one of the ?owners sharing a lock with us as to whether the boat indicates the personality. I got a smile out of him.  

The Thames is a beautiful river and I love the weeping willow trees which grace the banks. The foliage looks like a bushy haircut and there was a lot of it! We saw a lot of swans and Canadian geese, even shared one of the locks with the Swan family who paddled in as the gates were closing, and were the first out when the gates opened. The Lock Keeper was not impressed, probably because he couldn’t charge them!

We had to pay ₤22 per day for registration to be on the Thames. The temporary registration papers had to be placed in a window on either side of AM. In effect we had 2 ½ days to get to the Oxford Canal, a journey of over 40 miles. I’m not sure what ₤22 paid for apart from trendy locks which were sometimes operated by Lock Keepers. If there was no Lock Keeper then the “Self Service” sign was up and that meant do it yourself pressing buttons. I was told about 12 locks later that if I was operating the lock then I would be responsible for any other craft sharing the lock. I found all this out because an empty passenger boat, which had sped past us, had closed the lock gates on us just as we were close to entering the lock. I was pissed off with the bloke and went up to have words with him just as the lock keeper appeared. They were obviously matey but I said my words and it made me feel better. And matey said that he hadn’t seen us, and that even if he had then he couldn’t have us in the lock as he was not allowed to take that responsibility. I digress….

We decided to turn right off the Kennet and Avon Canal and go a couple of miles down river to Sonning. Sonning is a pretty village and Chris remembers it from his Windsor years. Of course it had an attractive pub and we tasted the water before ‘winding’ and heading up to Thames side of Reading opposite Caversham.. We moored on the banks of a park and by the rowing lanes as it turned out. The bank was awash with swan & geese pooh! (They need Mole from Wind in the Willows to do a bit of cleaning up). But the view over the river to the posh houses was interesting and watching the rigorous rowing training was an eye opener and it certainly rocked the boat. The first rock of the boat made me squeal, a little, as I was in the little room and I thought that we were going to be rocked all night. But when I realized it was the Rowing club, I knew they would be packing up before nightfall. They did restart around 6 a.m.

Day 2 on R.Thames saw us powering along at 4 miles an hour covering distance. The gardens of the posh and fabulous are glimpsed as we pass by. I did wave at some of the houses and photographed more than I needed to. We were going to stop at some of the towns but finding moorings was not easy. We thought we would spend the night just after Day’s Lock where Dorchester was in easy walking distance. Another Self Service lock and after leaving the lock in the way it is supposed to be left, I jumped on AM and we were moving towards a spot we thought we’d moor in when the bleeding canoes turned up and took that exact same space! Kind of 3 Men in a Boat and their support boat or two. So we moved along and found a nice spot away from the pretenders but also no Footpath to Dorchester.

Day 3, our final day of big river motoring, we stopped in Abingdon. Had a walk into town, a cappuccino, and a look at a chandlery (Boat shop). On returning to AM we had a bench seat of 4 gongoozlers, so I had a quick chat with them. I noticed the Bow had what looked like wet white paint spattered on the floor, and I was told it was from a White Heron that had flown by! Dirty White Heron, I wonder what its diet is? I really am getting C – anal! More cruising and we were at Oxford. We had been advised to take the Thames to Duke’s Cut rather than entering the Oxford Canal at Sheepwash Channel. Looking back it would have been a sharp Right turn at Sheepwash and I don’t recall passing it. The signage on the Thames is a little hit and miss, and I think the Environment Agency that take our money could use it a bit to cut back foliage so we mere mortals could be kept in the picture, rather than trying to read trees. Leaving Oxford we passed some open land where there were wild interbred horses sharing space with cattle. They didn’t look like they were socializing. And so arrived the last Thames lock for us, none of the fancy automated system but a job the Lock Keeper seemed to enjoy. (He’d only been on the job a couple of days and was still waiting for the uniform – well that’s what he told us). After King’s Lock we had a right turn into Duke’s Cut and within 15 minutes we were greeted by the single gate lock that is the Oxford Canal. At first we thought we had misread the sign and the river ran out! But on a closer look, yep there was the narrowest lock and through it we went.

So life on the boat, yes I screamed when the horn gets blasted and just about blows out my eardrums. Chris fixed that, yesterday. Most days I’m good with living on board, sometimes it feels too small, sometimes it feels just right, sometimes I’m impatient. All the time I imagine having Della with us, there are dogs everywhere, this country just loves them. I’ve removed the fly spotted pull down blinds, by pulling down the blinds to where there are no fly spots and cutting the dirty bit off. I know I run the risk of calling “Curtains” on this adventure by getting involved in curtains! But I’m good. We had a visit from the expat Kiwi London crowd, last Sunday, most enjoyable. But that will come in under the Oxford Canal episode, to be written next.

Oh and the weather. Yes the forecasters get it right every day, sun and cloud and rain. I think the summer is hanging around waiting for a curtain call.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Girls keep on Talking

13 July 11

River Thames.

Yesterday we completed the Kennet and Avon Canal at Reading where the Canal meets the Thames, thanks to guidance from hard copy Nicholson ‘Waterways Guide 7’ (gifted from Pops) and a little bit of help from Tony, Dave & Sandy, and Mark along the way. I feel like I have earned my Lock operation  badge and am in process of biceps & quads formation, abdomen flattening, and lower spine torturing. Yes we did 94 locks since leaving Bradford on Avon not to mention all the others we did with Tony when we left Devizes for the Caen Hill Flight. The locks were not in as good condition as the Caen Hill locks. The tourist rental companies, reportedly, give minimal instruction and do not  stress the importance of using the windlass to control the speed of the ladders as they drop to shut the sluices! Many rentees drop the paddles, a loud sound is emitted which in effect damages the paddles causes the lock to need repairs blah blah blah.

We also did our fair share of swing bridges. The first one of our last day on the K & A Canal was jammed as it had been overswung and a bolt was blocking its swing. A towpath user gave me a helping hand and he pushed the bridge while I jumped on and it worked! Of course the responsible person trapped inside me phoned British Waterways and reported the problem to their answer machine. Most of the recent swing bridges involved stopping traffic all by the turn of a key and the press of a button or two at the handily located control boxes. And there was the Aldermaston Lift Bridge which resulted in traffic being stopped for approx 30 mins while 2 boats went through one way, then 3 boats went through the other way including one of the boats that had already gone through and needed to turn around. And then all of this meant we lost our place at the next lock, but it’s not a race!

On the outskirts of Reading we came to Fobney Lock (at the waterworks) which looked perilous for post lock “me” pickup, as the strong weir stream came out at right angles to wear I would be picked up. I thought I was better to open one gate for AM to exit from and then climb down the ladder and jump on to AM’s roof before she left the lock and not bother to close the gate. Chris did his best to control AM and make sure I left the slippery ladder in safety. We left the lock and, amazingly, the gate closed behind us. How thoughtful!

The second to last lock, in Reading, was an interesting affair. It had 4 paddles either end  for the windlass to wind, then drop. Then once AM was out of the lock, Chris waited for me at the temporary lock mooring where the local drunks pushed the traffic light button for us and we got the green light to pass through Reading CBD. What fun, lots of waves from the lunchtime crowd and then eventually to the last lock which, although self operated, gave us a taste of Thames River lock operation…automatic, tell your father!

And so to the Thames, what a beautiful river. More on that next Blog. But suffice to say there are some big cruisers and makes me wonder what the size of your boat says about your personality.
So what’s life like in one’s narrowboat home. Firstly, it is rather busy on the canals. If you are on the move then there seem to be a lot of locks, and little time between them. My job, until I get my steering competency badge from the captain, is to open and close the locks. This means timely departures off the boat at landing points so I can ready the canal.The plus is I keep fit and sleep well at night! But there are other tasks to do, I am demonstrating some of my domestic- goddess- in- the-galley abilities which I had put to bed some years ago! Many of you will know that Chris is a fab cook and has kept me well fed over the years. So now the worm has turned. The laundry is sometimes taken to the launderette for ₤7 (machine wash & dryer) but I have reinstated my Portugal hand washing skills using the kitchen sink, wash basin, and hip bath for all laundry except towels. I am a good wringer but towels I’m not interested in. We are currently building up a used towel collection!

We fill our water tank usually every 2-3 days so we know that we won’t run out. We think the water tank holds 300 litres. It seems to take longer to fill it than it does to use it! (Filling station traps are marked by a tap icon in the Nicholson’s book). The shower is great. The hip bath is similar to a shub but not as big. The shower spray has good pressure (the water is on a pressure system) and the calorifier heats the hot water when the engine is running. I had a hot shower, this morning, from water that would have been heated yesterday. It was lovely.

Then there is the toilet, yes you know you don’t want to know but you do want to! All I will say is that we only put what needs to go in the toilet in the toilet, so we can limit our need  to “pumpout” the contents, as British Waterways want ₤10 for each ‘pumpout’. I didn’t think our shit was so valuable! The old Elsan loo is free disposal but we have seen a composting loo on one of the narrowboats and thought that’s the ticket. So on that wee note, I’ll go. Laters.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Where are we?

Girl's keep on talking!
We are in HUNGERFORD, still on the Kennet & Avon Canal. Since the last blog at Honeystreet we have covered 17 miles, 23 locks, 1x tunnel and 2 swing bridges. The weather has been the weather. At least one day the weather didn't listen to the weather forecast and we cruised under warm sunshine. The majority of the locks were yesterday when we teamed up with Arthur and his narrowboat. Much easier to be sharing lock duties with good company included, thanks Arthur! (Sorry that we couldn't sort out a space for you to moor in Hungerford).
The weather was pretty wet this, morning, and we decided to cast off when it looked like the black clouds were turning grey. We saw the last lock we had gone through, yesterday evening, was overflowing so I went up, windlass in hand (windlass is the tool of the lock operation Trade, not forgetting the toughened coccyx of my person), thinking that I'd wind up the ladder of the bottom gate and empty some of the lock but the flow stopped and I saw that Mike & Liz who we'd met on the locks, a couple of days ago, were going down. So we agreed to do the lock trail to Hungerford together.  That worked well and we saw the benefit of having a 'bow thruster' (what moves the boat from the front in a sideways direction) - good for position in the lock and good for moving into a mooring. The most interesting lock, today was the Hungerford Marsh Lock with the Hungerford Marsh Swing Bridge (over lock). Yes the bridge was over the lock and you can't go into the lock without moving the bridge!
So now we are in Hungerford. We've checked out the shops, got 2 litres of  semi skimmed milk for 80p (reduced cos it's 2 days til it's use by date)! We are happy to be back in internetland, funny we never used to need all this connectivity.
Sleep comes easily when you are a locklubber. Soon I'll fill you in on what life is like, for me, on a narrowboat.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Girl Talk - Flat bottom boat you make the rockin' world go round!

5 July

Honey Street, Pewsey. Moored up outside 'The Barge Inn"' circa 1810. We are less than a stone's throw from the door to the pub!

We left Bradford-on-Avon a couple of days ago and swiftly chugged, via 15 locks on Sunday, to the bottom of the Caen Hill Flight. We wanted to have an early start on the "Flight" on Monday and let Matey Locky (of NZ "dog" notoriety) know our plans as he passed by on his 4 wheeler. Well he asked us first! We teamed up with holiday makers ( 2 women and an 11 yr old kid) who were in a narrowboat rental (probably 40ft) to go up the flight. Easier to do it with 2 boats than solo! Means teamwork working the locks. So 3 hours and 50 minutes later we were in Devizes. On the way up the "flight" the 11 year old was skippering their boat. He was doing a fantastic job but it didn't go without incident. On about the 7th lock he slipped in the stern on the slippery floor, as he was using his pole to keep the boat in line after entering the lock, and slid into the water. This happened just as Avalon Mist was entering the lock! Quick action from Chris in stopping Avalon Mist and encouragement from we women above averted tragedy. It took a lot of effort for the boy (Alex) to haul himself back on deck and he was briefly in shock but got his breathing back in control and then on with the job. In Devizes we stocked up on groceries which involved a bus ride to Lidl. (Kind of like Pak'n'Save in NZ and a supermarket we used to go in Portugal). We were moored, overnight, opposite the Devizes slipway wharf. We decided that we have our own reality tv station - 'Channel Can(n)al' Hanging out for some of the afternoon was a young woman who had the most annoying laugh, worse than Vicky Pollard if you have ever watched "Little Britain", and couldn't say a sentence that made sense. Later in our viewing was Canoe/Kayak school which would allow audience interaction. Dad and 2 sons in the canoe, Dad and the older son rowing and young son in the middle being young son in the middle. Chris commented to them how lovely it was to watch them busy and learning how to paddle. Youngest son said "But I'm not doing anything!" Later, just before sunset, the Swan family promenaded along the wharf. Then mum and dad Swan jumped in the canal followed by their 6 developing Cygnets and paddled over to see if there were any treats for their performance. No such luck!
The weather, the past couple of days has been warm and sunny. This morning started off sunny but the forecast was a 50% chance of precipitation and yes, as chance would have it, they were right. But are we bovvered? The laundromatted washing is hung out in the bow, under the cratch cover. We have now moved ourselves 7 1/2  miles in an eastward direction, from Devizes, and the adventure really begins. We moored for lunch (savoury scones) followed by a road walk into the pretty village of All Cannings and a field walk back to the tow path (2 miles we are guessing). The village was full of thatched houses, chocolate box pictures thought Chris. The village shop was run by volunteers from the village with pricing geared at encouraging the villagers to shop affordably, there, rather than pay the 2 pound return bus fare to Devizes. What a great idea and what a sense of community. They also had an old red phone box on the side of the footpath which was used as a book exchange (i.e. bring a book and swap it for another).
Now we are at Honey Street, in view of the 'White Horse" on the hill and  temporarily moored at The Barge Inn which was once a slaughterhouse, a bakehouse, a brewery, and a grocers. It is also the International crop circle centre. I reckon it's the White Horse that does the crop circles.
Right off to investigate. It could take some time!  Laters!

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Girl Talk again


Just checked the date as I need to confirm that today is actually today! And, yes, I had it right but only after thinking about it for a minute or two. So, somewhere along the calm waters 10 days has passed since we added to the Blog. Yesterday, we were in Trowbridge (‘.row..’ is said like row your boat, not ~row~ with someone. I tried the ~row~ way with the bus driver and he said “where?”), for cheap shopping and a WiFi connection where we uploaded some photos on Blogspot. The photos were taken after the Caen Hill Flight, so we will post some of the previous ones once I have sorted out downloading them off my mobile phone. (Our current internet connection on AM is non existent where we are moored.)

So to backtrack (or do boaties say  to ‘backwater’?) we departed Devizes Marina and headed the short distance to Devizes on Tues 21 June and found a mooring on the canal close to the town centre. I managed to jam a fingernail as I was sliding the metal hatch cover and closing the metal door to the stern. That hurt, and I high tailed it to Superdrug to get some Arnica cream applied as quickly as I could.

The next day, Tony arrived from Eastbourne and we set off under rainy skies towards the Caen Hill flight of locks. We had six locks to pass through before hitting the rapid 16 flight of locks. Initially the rain got worse and we thought we’d moor up and carry on the next day. Then the sun came out and we got stuck into it. I say we, but I was not lock active until mid flight when I was allowed to take hold of the windlass and wind the paddles up or down. All I know is some are easy and some are not, definitely an Upper Limb strength builder. Then there are the gates to open and close. Once the water in the lock is level with the water outside the lock the gates can be opened / closed, one’s bum is generally used to push the wooden gate lever over the space of a wide semi circle. Over a series of locks the tail area starts to feel a little tender! The last 3 locks of the “Flight” were assisted by the British Waterways Lock keeper who was keen to get us out of the monitored are so he could have an early end to his day. When he found out I was from NZ, he said that he has one word that he associates with New Zealand and that is “DOG”! We looked at him in surprise and he asked us to guess what he was talking about. I said “Fred Dagg, get in behind”, and he said “Footrot Flats”. Yeah right whatever! I told him that Caen in Portuguese means Dog. By that time we were on the last lock of the day and we cruised off to moor up and find a pub. We found a place to moor but there was no pub a short walk away! So we watched the sun set from Avalon Mist, had drinks and dinner then went to bed weary from the days efforts. It had taken us @ 7 hours to do 1 ½ miles that day!!

We woke up early, and after our standard breakfast of fresh fruit, cereal, yoghurt and milk we were off to the first of 13 locks that day. There was good distance between locks and we went just over 5 miles. Apart from locks there is also the occasional Swing Bridge to open. Locks and bridges mean getting off the boat to operate them unless there is other canal traffic that will do the work. The locks need to have their gates and shutters closed unless someone is going to use it straight after we have, and the sing bridge needs to be reinstated for pedestrian or vehicle use. This means many jumps on and off the boat depending on the frequency of the aforementioned. ‘Fit not Fat’ are the words of the moment. I enjoy the graceful glide of Avalon Mist as she is gently pushed out from the edge of the Canal as I climb aboard.

So that evening we were in Semington, a stone’s throw from the Somerset Arms Pub. The Pub had a nice drop of real ale and I was partial to the one called ‘Gem’, same name as my parents dog! We ate, on board, then an early night and I was up early for a morning walk on the tow path. What a fabulous time to take photos. I posted some of the shots on the Blog. I am now waiting for delivery of a battery charger as I left mine in NZ thinking my battery was compatible with Chris’s and it isn’t!

Oh well, off we went to Bradford on Avon, a further 5 miles along the canal in the direction of Bath. Tony left us the following day, and we went on to Bathampton, 6 ½ miles. Moored up close to “The George” Pub for 3 nights. We took our bikes along the towpath and checked out the locks that take the boats down to the Avon River. We had decided that we would go no further than Bathampton in AM but it was great to have the bikes to see what we were missing out on. We were just turning the bikes around when Steve and Prema phoned us to say they were at AM. for a visit.

So we winded (turn around) at Bathampton and went to Dundas wharf to fill up with water and then stopped at Limpley Stoke for the night. Had a fab walk through 2 villages (Limpley Stoke and Freshford) which involved walking through fields and ended up in Avoncliff at the “Cross Guns” pub drinking ale from Box Steam Brewery. A quick, just over a mile, walk got us back to AM and we found ourselves cramped in by a tourist wide beam boat. So we moved and next day headed to Avoncliff and we have been in that area for the past few days. Dave & sandy came and stayed a couple of nights and we took them up canal a little way which included going up (and down) the Bradford on Avon lock. We have met some lovely English people (Ian & Sonja) who have a beautiful narrowbeam boat and they went ‘up’ the lock with us as I was needing some instruction cos I realize that as the lock is filling there is a risk of water flowing over the bow and I don’t want that.

And here we are, it is now July 2nd. Chris has fixed the dripping tap in the kitchen and sorted out the alternator position so that the fan belt won’t get chewed up again! Amazing how he can do these tasks. I’m so lucky. We are finding canal life is very pleasant. Having said that, our days have been busy and, today, I am trying to relax.

I’m very happy with my Trolley. I wheeled it to Sainsbury’s, yesterday to get some water, milk, Stilton cheese and other things which seemed to fill the trolley! Then as Sainsbury’s didn’t have an adjustable spanner or white spirits, I hauled the trolley onto the Sainsbury’s bus to be dropped near the hardware shop in town. I sat on the bus and the driver said to me “are you going to buy a ticket?”. I said “I thought it was a free bus” and he said  “no” so I said “I’d better get off” and he said” haven’t you got any money” and I said “no” and he said “oh well I’ll just mark you off as having a bus pass!”  Nice bus driver.


Friday, 1 July 2011

Ships log July !st

Its been busy. I think that we thought that we would be updating every couple of days, but what with the initial sort out, cleaning, putting things away [the narrow boat has enough space but it needs good sorting, a system, and a bit of discipline]
So we are making progress in that direction.
Sarah has got most of the moss off the windows, and is being a bit of a domestic goddess, and has taken over my roll as cook, which I’m enjoying.
We have had minor mechanical adjustments, dripping taps, a fan belt eating alternator, but things are getting sorted, and I have even had the angle grinder out knocking off rust and red leading [or not] probably red lead is illegal these days.
We have met a lot of really nice people, especially Ian and Sonia who have been so helpful with advice, giving us maps etc etc. Thanks new mates.
We have a rough itinerary, [thanks new friends] it goes as follows, but of course could change………….
Kennet & Avon to Reading………. On to the Thames to past Oxford……….on to the Oxford canal and along to Warwick……..poss. detour to Stratford on Avon,,,,,,,,,,, Tewksbury…….Worcester….and on to Birmingham………...on to near Liverpool then double back to Stoke on Trent {Robbie Williams, Potteries etc] and on to Burton on Trent and Derby where we hope to get winter moorings.
So lets get this posted and will try and be more regular with the blog.

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.