Sunday, 17 November 2013


Popular Q’s
“Have you finished her?”
“When will she be ready?”
“How’s it going?”
“How long do you think she’ll take to fit out?”
“Are you going to sell your other boat?”
Popular A’s
“Yes, Chris has, but I didn't like her look and asked him to start again!”
“A couple of weeks!”
Indicate 4” / 6 cm by space between index fingers.

The 'wood-look' floor was 2/3rds completed prior to our summer canal cruise and Chris had made 2 top boxes that transform into 4 roof boxes. The idea is the A frame roof of the roof box will have a solar panel on either slope and be in an ideal position on DB’s roof to receive max daylight.  The obvious comment from the helpful people who see 2 roof boxes is “You won’t see over the top of them!” We are so thick-not... DER! Of course we will travel with an obstructed view and bounce off the steel boats that leap out at us. Who wouldn't do that?

Meanwhile, indoors, Chris is focused on fitting out the open plan kitchen/dining/living room, and is set to get the wiring and plumbing underway. DB has been covered with sterling board over the spray foamed cabin sides, and the upper wall and ceiling in the living room are now lined with wooden panels.The wooden panels need sanding, undercoating, filling, sanding, undercoating..... (my job). I have made a start.

A few trips to IKEA and we bought the flat packed cupboards for the kitchen. The day of purchase we risked driving down the muddy field to the boat to drop off the flat packs. Yes, we carried the packages to DB, in our best gumboots (Wellingtons) after the car wheels started spinning in the mud. The earlier IKEA breakfast gave us strength to inch the car over sterling boards and back on firm ground. Thanks to our friend from the rental boat company who had made a timely boat drop off and didn't walk past us! Next day Chris had the flat packs emptied and the kitchen took shape. Now a Kitchen consisting of cupboards is not a kitchen until there is something in it that gives it a functional clue. Our kitchen cabinets have started their use as a place for the work tools. Sensible really.

The fit out sounds a big job and it is BUT we have done bigger on terra firma in previous adventures. Yes our ages have not passed us by un-noticed but we are fit and healthy!

Yesterday, Chris lit the fire (Morso Squirrel) for its first time ever! We have had the fire board and hearth tiled with appropriate granite tiles and it looks fantastic. The fire regulation for a multi fuel fire on boats is clearly defined and there is no room for error. We have obeyed to detail! The fumes from the first fire were strong and we opened the Houdini hatches. I’m going to the boat, now, to check out the second lit fire! Will the kettle be boiling?

Check the Wheel House!!

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.