Thursday, 4 August 2011

Lady scripts

28th July
We motored off, early, this morning and headed over to Rugby, by way of the Oxford canal. We parted ways at Braunston, a fine overnight stay, busy traffic on the canal plus the Braunston Marina has a fine selection of boats for sale as well as boatbuilding happening. A bright start to the day with the sun breaking out through the early mist. I maxxed on getting the laundry done. There wasn’t much needing laundering, really, what probably amounted to 2 light loads in the smiley faces of Twin Tubs. Anyway…  But, early days, and this novelty has given me more time to start to settle into life on board. Yes, sure, we are living the dream and how lucky are we. Life is different. It is interesting to see how much space we use and don’t use. The living room is mostly a storage cupboard with a couple of lounge chairs, footstools and a Twin Tub, that are functional. I am starting to feel more at home than displaced. It is lovely to sit out on the stern and watch canal flora & fauna pass by, and slowly build my confidence at the tiller. I’m OK if I pay attention right from the start. The secret is that I need to keep looking in front of me when Chris hands over tiller duties; Chris has had to step in, more than once, and avert potential crash sites. I’m good on an empty stretch of canal, I can pass under curved narrow bridges, I can ‘tick’ past moored boats. I need to pass more oncoming boats and get Lock confident. I know all these things but there’s no rush.

We often go for a walk, or sometimes cycle, along the tow path. Our walks can become quite extensive. The most enjoyable walks include a farmer’s field of wheat where the footpath passes through the centre of it.  Today, we walked into Rugby. The main shopping area was busy, both on the streets and in the large shopping mall. We went to Waitrose, because we could. We picked up a prepared Indian dinner for ₤2.75. Enough to feed us for 2 days.  Found a couple of charity shops, we hunt them down in every village. Rugby feels alive and has more of our favourite supermarkets.

I have been amazed at how easy it is to cook, on board. We have a 9V fridge which keeps the food cool and eats up the battery power. We are now turning the fridge off overnight. No ice!

And now it is August 4th  and raining. We set off from Rugby around 830 am. This involved going up canal to the nearby “winding” point to turn around! Then a short stop to fill up the water tank and head a couple of miles to the 3 Hillmorton locks. Now we are on track to Braunston, then Napton where we make a Right turn following the Grand Union Canal to Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick and move onto the Stratford-on-Avon Canal.

Last weekend we went to London for the weekend, leaving AM tied up and locked up. No worries. The train took 1 ½  hours to Euston Station. We booked the train ‘online’ ₤18 return. Good price at such short notice. The train carriage is slightly wider than AM.  We had a fabulous weekend with friends, good to be on land for a short time and experience big rooms!

Avalon Mist was moored where we left her and no one had disturbed her. The weather has been warm and sunny, these past few days, and suited our plans to get a bit of painting done. Chris got his angle grinder out and sanded and prepped the roof for undercoating. He started the painting and I finished the first coat. Chris, also, put in a new shower and has sorted out the bilge pump.

The canals are busying up with holiday makers.

1 comment:

  1. I think there's the makings of a book in this blog. A blogging good one!


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.