Thursday, 3 May 2012


The thought of another drought provoked rainy weekend, well the word weekend is by the by, but we are in for harsh weather so the forecasters say. Yes we have brought the worst weather in 100 years. I shouldn’t be so forward to say we brought it but we did the same when we moved to Tauranga. We weren’t long in town when we had the worst rain in 25 years followed 2 weeks later by the worst rains in 100 years. So hope our 7 year itch doesn’t bring exceptional reportable weather here.

Little Della is settled on the boat and is now looking like she is wondering why she is here. The mega daily walks, rain or seldom- shine keep her entertained but I think she is wondering what her purpose is now. The rabbits have a ‘chase me’ scent and the Swans are hissy. I think she thinks the Coots would be fun for a frolic. A few daily treats help.

Today we did the IKEA run in our ‘boat’ on wheels. Breakfast, there, is the best and then a hasty walk to Market Hall, Bargain Basement and we’re done. The self checkout assistant is helpful & friendly and shares the joys of the customer who had a meltdown, earlier, because of a queue. My advice to her for the best customer service was to agree with the customer. They don’t expect it. (If you’re not sure then cross your fingers as you speak. I didn’t tell her that!)

So I’ve been thinking about local vernacular. The daily greeting, here, is ‘AllRight’ sounding like ‘Ullrooit’. The response is meant to be ‘Ullrooit’. When I first had this said to me, I launched in to how I was or wasn’t allright. I did think that everyone was so friendly and caring! And they probably are but they weren’t really asking if I was allright, they were just saying ‘Hi’ in acknowledgement our paths were physically crossing.

It has been nice to have a few days less home improvements motivated. We are trying out a new bed extension layout tonight. That is another story but I would like to sleep without the gunwhale being my new best friend. So let’s see who falls out of bed tonight! Well it is either me, Chris or Della! Yesterday the largest pottery mallard fell off our wall followed by a carpet tile or 3!


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

‘Rack’ the Knife

 It looks like the canals will have a bit more water than anticipated, well that’s my forecast. There must be some shared benefit with all that rain that we are getting!

We have been at the Marina for 7 weeks, now, and now reap the benefits of our hard work getting AM canal-worthy. We can move ourselves on water independently and AM is running well! Indoors, we have transformed the what-was the galley / dinette, and the lounge room berth into one room with a wide shelved floor to ceiling storage space, a bright and functional galley (an IKEA solution) giving access to the living /dining room (which will also turn into the guest room, at night!). The new door to the Bow (front) is perfect.  There is still more to be done but that is part of the project. I feel excited about this part of the project whereas most of the last 7 weeks have been like living on a building site. But the hard work paid off. This week the never-ending ending did, in a way, arrive and we can be less work focused and go on days out!

So the Galley, I do think of it as a ‘kitchen’ on a boat because it is the sort of kitchen I could live with anywhere on land or water! So if I refer to it as kitchen or galley, I mean the same thing. Chris put our ideas onto paper and drew possible layouts and was able to choose suitable drawers and cabinets to fill the space and offer storage solutions. Next step was IKEA. (We did source another kitchen supplier but we realized IKEA would have a tested product that Chris could professionally install, oh the joys of being a carpenter + builder). A further visit to IKEA (Nottingham) and Chris had his layout to share with an in-house kitchen designer who made some good suggestions and could show a 3 dimensional view of our plans. Needless to say the car was full when we left the store.

Some of the highlights of living without a kitchen…

-aware of water availability
-2 washing up bowls (one to rest the drainer on) and a 5 litre water bottle are essential.
-Use the same crockery and cutlery.
-Paper towels are very helpful with wiping the plates pre-wash
-Purchase of a jug to boil water (cos we have electricity).
-Purchasing prepped/cooked supermarket meals. (as well as fresh veggie stir fry mixes)
-the temporary work table is kept out of the intended galley site until absolutely necessary
-Purchase a microwave/convection oven/grill and work out if the inverter will cope!
-Supermarket meals are fast to get on the table!
-make sure your buckets do not become builder’s buckets
-You get to know your neighbours who send out invites for “us”dinner. Thank you TT’s Dave & Heth.

A few days later the galley housed all kitchen stuff. The kitchen sink was in situ but drained into a bucket and the taps didn’t work! The gas was delayed in being connected but during our wait for this to happen; we realized that we would need a gas cooker. The inverter would struggle to run the microwave/oven which was a lifesaver to have during the Galley refit. So, a week ago, we were reliably connected to our gas bottle and the hob and oven (cooker) are in use. 

We are slowly covering the galley walls with helpful storage items. Today, we were delivered a magnetic knife rack……..

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.