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.

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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.