Saturday, 2 May 2015


Our 2015 cruise season has started. I flew back into spring in England
, a couple of weeks ago, after visiting my dear family and friends in New Zealand. Heartfelt thanks to them all for their love and hospitality. I appreciate that you all have busy lives and were able to make time for me who flits about!

This trip I found out I had finally reached the status of seasoned air traveller. Shame the airline of my choice doesn’t put me in that league! I had no signs of time zone jetlag on arrivals ‘Downunder’ and return to  ‘Upover’ following the long haul of at least 27 hours, each way, including transit stopovers. I was aware, this trip, of my fading memory and the realisation that I am well and truly ‘Muddle Raged’! Hiss and snarl with low capacity for frustrations of daily life. The words “Don’t you remember?” have become irritating and invite thoughts of dementia marking my ‘sidelines’.
I understand my lifestyle is enviable but then so are reminders of a ‘normal’ life that escaped me. I am now living a life of ‘dreams’ that unwittingly happened to me. No I am not sobbing about it; in fact I am embracing my luck and good fortune. ‘Don’t dream it be it’ is my mantra.

I was better than pleased to get to the tail end of my flight Auckland-Brisbane-Du(don’t)bai-Birmingham International. In my state as free spirit with no alcohol I passed through the Immigration eye scan, collected my semi smashed 4 wheeler suitcase and traipsed past ‘Nothing To Declare’ to the Arrivals hall. I was brought to a halt when the Cabin Crew, in front of me, stopped walking. Their uniform indicated this was the crew of my flight. Not being slow in getting my mouth to work I had words with the uniformed Captain Pilot in front of me.

“Keep moving I want to get out of here. Oh and thank you very much for a great flight.”

The pilot appeared happy with my brief words of appreciation and did not hang around. Or was it the ubiquitous passenger had become a person?!

I was ecstatic to be reunited with my hubby and dog and keen to be back on DolcieBlue. It did take me a few days to really feel back in my place at ‘home’. I certainly am there now and it’s lovely.
DB had a few days tied up at the water based workshop at Braunston Marina, while I was away. There was essential work to be done on the stern deck to gain access to the 5 batteries in situ near the engine. The original floor opening to the engine was suited for a short small skinny person. You get the idea!

The new hatch in the foreground

The boys at Colecraft didn’t look this skinny or the other S words above! Be warned no Boatbuilder is perfect but we love our DolcieBlue.

Now with the modified access the Captain is able to happily go into the engine chamber and deal with all that needs doing down there. And being the bottled blonde I am, I like the aesthetic of the new stern covering.

Another boon is the proper ships wheel. I had never thought what a difference 6 integral handles would make. Gone is the excuse for a steering wheel with its whirly wheel and in its place is the real thing! Steering DB has taken on a new meaning. This has been helped with some technical adjustment that means steering the rudder doesn’t take an excessive amount of turns. Even I, the self appointed Admiral of DB, have begun steering not only on the Captain’s command but at my whim as well! Hallelujah.

Indoors, I wallpapered the ‘living room’ last November and the porthole liners are permanently in situ (for as long as permanent is) in the living room and bedroom. (I cannot bring DB to berth category!) The bedroom portholes also have foam plugs that are easily put in situ at night. The battle with condensation on these windows is over.

The latest installation has been doors into the bathroom which means the bathroom can be shared when we have guests. No need for the Thetford toilet now in the small room with the inverter. Yay.

That’s the nuts and bolts of home improvements to date. There will be more.

We are now in Cruise mode. We left Rugby, yesterday and moved along the Oxford Canal passing, and I quote “That bloody (excuse for a swingbridge) bridge at Roses’ “. 

At Hawksbury Junction a bloated floater, probably a stoat or possibly a badger, was sadly at the gate to the Stop Lock so I phoned C&RT to report it. I felt I should let the Authority know as someone who has an ‘ology in Elf and Safety needs to grapple gently with this. I am not qualified.

Saturday May 2nd and here we are moored up on the NO EXIT Ashby Canal (aka Ashby de la Zouche Canal).

NEWSFLASH .....We have heard NB Avalon Mist has been sighted in Willington (Trent & Mersey Canal) and good reports have been announced. Sweet as!

No comments:

Post a Comment

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.