Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Solar Panels Amping up

It was the hottest day, this summer and we cruised down the Stockton Locks, 8 Locks + 2 more near Itchington.
We teamed up with a boat we had been following, at a distance when we left our mooring and they had turned out of the nearby marina, that morning. We had hoped they had seen us and it turns out ‘He’ had but ‘She’ hadn't. By the time we turned up, they were about to enter the Stockton Top Lock and ‘She’ had negotiated with the boat,going down, the next Lock to join them.

“Whatever”, I said. “We can wait for another boat.”

He had words with Her and they agreed to do the flight with us. The day was warming up and I was 'dripping' by the end of the 10 Locks. The paddles are hard to wind, back to counting 23 rotations! There are no C&RT Volunteers on this flight of Locks.  We gave ourselves a short recovery time to eat and hydrate. Mr ‘He’ and Mrs ‘She’ were going to move later and we’d share the next 10 Locks if they turned up. 

We cruised at 'tic' speed, which is slower than walking pace, best not to rush and we knew there was a fast flow water point at Bascote Bridge. Ideal for using the shower while the tank was filling with no need to restrict DB’s on-board water use.  Our water tank will hold 1250 litres water, when filled. With sensible water use, we shouldn’t need to fill up the tank for at least 14 days i.e. don’t leave the tap running ever, plan your activity with water use, keep an eye on the Bow water mark as the lighter shade of black becomes greater as the Bow rises with the reduction of water in the tank. (Not rocket science!)

Again it takes me back to Portugal days when our water supply came from our Well until that was buried in the floods of 1997 and we had to put in a bore hole. All in all we couldn’t take water for granted and nor can we with living on a Narrowboat. We do appreciate C&RT for keeping water points free and accessible.

Tank filled and freshened up, off we went to begin the cruise through another 10 Locks. I was up to continuing to the end of this ‘workout’ and the draw card was the thought of at least a week in the Royal Leamington Spa area. We got to the Radford Bottom Lock and found a shady mooring.  Looks are deceiving and DB lurched each time the Lock emptied.
Blackberry promise

I felt I had earned my Rum o’clock that evening but we had no coke! A cyclist stopped as we were mooring up and she informed us, as she left, the nearest supermarket was close but far away by foot. Chris took off to Radford Semele to see if he could find a village store. In the meantime, the cyclist reappeared with 2 bottles of coke. If you are reading my Blog, kind lady, “Thankyou thankyou.”

Then there was this chap wearing a high-vis waistcoat who implied that he was the self appointed monitor of the nearby Locks and that there was a problem with youth emptying the ‘pound’ between the bottom 2 Locks. He said he owned a transport company, he owned lots of houses, had an Elm tree that was blocking his driveway, he was waiting for his Narrowboat to be returned the following day... His story was too fabricated to be believable.
Poppy field near Radford Semele

We moved to the Lidl mooring the next day where we spent a week tied up on mooring rings. Great moorings and freshly baked continental breads from Lidl are irresistable.  

We were in no rush to move but some bored youth persons, one night, took a dislike to my plants.  

Time to go!

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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.