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.


  1. Absolutely loved seeing the guided tour of the boat on Skype last night, thanks so much for that. The lifestyle looks idyllic.
    Florimondo looks more handsome than ever, he certainly scrubs up well. Who knew?

  2. You are going to make yoghurt????


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.