Thursday, 28 June 2012

You Always Take The Weather With you.

28 June 2012

The early evening of the 27th hosted blue sunny calm skies and Chris raised the cratch cover over the Bow so we could enjoy open views and watch Dave, our smiling neighbour, throwing his maggots and casting his rod.

Dusk turned to night, the air was humid and the Bow was uncovered. I woke in the mid early morning (0330) and heard rain falling. I commented to Chris (“It’s raining.”)And then I thought I should go and check it out. It was definitely raining and I decided to let the cratch cover down and secure it almost water tight. I won’t tell you what I rescued on the Bow from the prospect of the Dryer. No heroics. There were minor measures I could make but I figured it was no big deal. This morning I got it all sorted and the rain had stopped. Feeling confident we were back to normal under these persistent rainy conditions, I was not concerned about the darkening skies and a bit of thunder and lightning don’t bother us, including Della. With the Electrical storm passing, I did think I was glad we weren’t the tallest boat in the Marina, and we didn’t have a mounted steel pole on the roof.

I’ve been in electrical storms that I remember spooked me when we lived in Portugal but they passed by. October 26 1997 was the mother of all storms.(One of the worst floods ever recorded in our district) A 5 hour Mother Nature Extravaganza resulted in nearly 280mm of rainfall that caused widespread destruction along our region’s valleys. I remember waking up in the middle of the night being in the midst of an electrical storm. I did have my earplugs in so the sound was there but subdued. Lightning lit up 3 sides of the house. (The back wall didn’t have windows!) Then throughout the night I woke to the sound of heavy unrelenting rain and it was miserable. At first light Chris got up to investigate. He came back perplexed as he described the state of our lower terraces. A massive river raged and our Well (our water source) was buried, The uprooted floating trees had had a hammer-like attack on any obstacle that was in their way. That was some storm and our valley was temporarily decimated.

So, today, the storm that passed over the Marina was heavy but for me, not scary. It has caused some damage in the local shires but not in our boat world. A nearby ‘Boat- on -Wheels’, as I call it, car park is slightly under water and drivers need to wear gumboots (yes I know you Poms call them Wellingtons) or webbed feet to get to their 4 wheels. Feelings on the Marina were grave as to the severity of the storm and some people I spoke with thought it was the worst storm they’d experienced. We are lucky that Della doesn’t react to the sound of thunder or fireworks. She’ll just sigh and go back to sleep, although 5 November, last year, I remember she went outside to check the boundaries while the mini explosions were in full swing. No negative aftereffects for her!

The journey of the Olympic Flame is approaching us. It arrives in Derby, tomorrow and then passes nearby us on Saturday. We’ll be pressed to catch it but we are thinking a journey up canal to Burton-Upon-Trent on Saturday is highly likely. By the time we get to Burton, the flame will be heading in the direction of Melton Mowbray (Pork Pie land). We have Geoff & Jane arriving, tomorrow, for an overnighter. So we are planning to give them a gentle Canal-taster. If the weather can be a little kind we will pick them up by A.M. in Willington and then head to Stenson Lock and a little beyond. Della is keen to go to our local, tomorrow night, so we’ll ‘wind’ and return to the Marina. With favourable weather conditions on Saturday we’ll head towards Burton and see if they can track down the Olympic Flame. If the weather is infavourable we won’t go to Burton!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

It's raining again and if it's not it will be raining again.

We are now feeling comfortable, living in the Marina and enjoying the home-feel of AM. We seem to have had more days on dry land rather than constantly working on AM improvements. and we have enjoyed plenty of drives and walks since Della has arrived.Many trips exploring the Derbyshire countryside, the beauty of the Peak District and appreciating the local walks afoot from Mercia Marina.
Apart from the ‘pump-out’ trips we did go out for a couple of nights on the “Cut” in AM.
We are, now planning a 3 month adventure canal adventure  around the Penine Ring. By all accounts  the wettest drought is over and the water levels should be favourable to the Northern canals and we can cruise on A.M and make it, dare I say, a holiday. And Della is on board….

Della appears at ease with AM, and seems calm on the Bow. She has a ‘throne-like seat/bed from where she can see and smell what’s going on. She wears her harness and is attached to AM  so that any jump, be it voluntary or an accident,  into the water we can easily pull her back on board.  Della is interested in coots and ducks but has not attempted to get up close and personal while she is on A.M. (I think it’s OK for her to clear them off the Towpath when we are walking as it saves them from being run over by cyclists!). The Swans and the Canadian Geese are hissy and snake their heads in an aggressive manner to ward off  DOG. And then, talking of swans, today I had just lined up Della for a photo shoot on our pontoon, without her lead on, and 3 photos into the shoot, a couple of swans snaked their heads with full blown hissy beaks towards Della. She nearly jumped out of her skin and made to race off. I calmly called her back in-between expletives!! The photo shoot ended abruptly.

Adventures are on hold as my Ukulele Workshop have a gig at the Marina Open Weekend, and I have said I will participate!! My chance to perform with anonymity!!

We have had a few visitors to AM and some have even dared to stay on board. I am loving “my” kitchen and can cater for 4 with ease. The Air bed which we carried around with us for the past year was not successful, too cold and took up too much room. No complaints about the sofabed. Keith-who-can-sleep-anywhere thought that it was easier to sleep on the floor rather than move furniture around. (Chris almost lost his toenail, the first time the sofa was being put into position. His toenail is now guaranteed to fall off in due course. Ouch!) Thanks to Keith & Tony’s feedback  we have, now, repositioned the dining / living room furniture and it will be a lot easier to transform the living room into a bedroom.

Next guests are Geoff and Jane. They will be here the day The Olympic Torch passes from Derby to Birmingham.

Meanwhile Chris is the resident AM  painter and the organic camouflage is slowly being painted. She is looking great and it will be fab when we can get her AM sign in situ.

Anyways my Blogville will return with more entries, very soon.

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.