Sunday, 23 June 2013


At the end of this week the vision of ‘The DolcieBlue’ is destined to be a reality as she is booked to be trucked from her birthplace in Long Itchington and dropped, I mean lowered, by crane into Mercia Marina. Luckily she is empty of life’s laundry apart from fenders and an engine, and we are very excited that we will finally have DB. She is a ‘Peachy’ coated steel superstructure for Chris to masterfully fit-out as our new home.

We are getting stir-crazy with the wait and the monotony of life on the Marina. Our dream is to live on the ‘Cut’ but the day for that to happen is still an age away. While our life is physically active with dog walks around the Marina and along the towpath we need some life on the ‘outside’. It sounds a bit like we are incarcerated!

Coot Chick

Spontaneity used to be our second name and as a restorative approach we have decided to go for a mini break on the ‘Cut’ next week. We need the freshness of the outside Narrowboat world so we have arranged a small adventure to discover a new but old canal or two. We'll moor DB in her “Design-n-Destiny” berth to await 'Stage 1'.

Plan is for us to stock up on positive vibes and return refreshed, ready for a new start.


Friday, 14 June 2013


Today was the day and it arrived and is about to be over! We were going to take physical possession of DolcieBlue today. The planning had been dotted and crossed, her shell had been completed and paid for and DB was scheduled to be delivered sometime today. The truck to carry her and the crane to hoist and drop her were booked. Cool bananas. But, alas, the peachy paint job that was brushed on to her was lacking a magic formula and corroded around her shell 48 hours after application. Bugger damn & blast are appropriate words. Chris had visited DB on Monday and all seemed ticketyboo. The following day we found out the plans were thwarted by a lack of additive in the paint. No one to blame, no need to run, it just happened. On a positive note she has been sanded and smoothed and rubbed and cajoled, well I’m getting carried away I don’t think she had been cajoled.

Today, her date of scheduled delivery, we woke early really early aware that she was not going to arrive. Oh, I suppose it was best that there had been a blip as the weather was overcast and there were drops of late April showers. Chris and I decided to go and visit DB, see for our own eyes what had happened and leave the ladder and work mate that we were carrying around in the car in preparation for the next stage of her fit out. Well we need space in the car and we don’t have space on AM and mostly we wanted an excuse to visit DB and check out, in person, what had happened.

It was the first time I had seen DB after her peachy paint job and from a distance I love her colour. The room that holds AM was empty when we arrived. I had been thinking we could revert to the beige colour for DB but when I saw her peachy brightness Chris and I agreed that we should keep her that colour. It is different and glows not in a neon way but a warm way. I am not aware of seeing a colour like hers on the canal and we like to be a little different. Up close I could see why she wasn't fit for delivery. It was like a form of excema. I really felt for Gary and his blokes, it must be a nightmare for them. The guys are getting on with stripping AM of paint. Not my cup of tea working with white spirits, it is a headache in the making for the end of the day. We went and got them a few beers just in case they needed to pander their headaches. 

I’m not going to post a photo as I want to have the impact on the day of her launch, so to speak. So that is it as far as DB. Watch this space…..28 June is now the appointed date for her arrival.

Fingers Crossed.

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.