Thursday, 16 July 2015


We were rested and ready to move on to Rowington, Warwickshire. The weather forecast looked promising to head up the Hatton Flight and we thought we’d spend the night, before, moored at the top of the Cape Locks outside the Cape of Good Hope Pub in Warwick. A lovely summer’s evening chillaxing in the Kiwi owned and staffed Pub.
Beer for Della

In the morning someone was releasing the metalwork securing the tables and chairs. I suggested to the someone this could be  the "Unchained Melody.”
Cape Lock

With little Canal traffic on the move, I was hopeful a Narrowboat with at least 2 people aboard would come up the Cape Locks and we could team up. The first 2 boats were travelling together, holiday makers, so when the next boat arrived, on its own, I nabbed them and we agreed to ‘team up’. The woman, holding the windlass, spoke about her respiratory difficulties and said that if she was going to ‘flake’ her husband would take over the Locks. I believed her and off we went. We didn’t have to break any records and we followed the holiday-makers who were ahead of us.

The holidaymakers were entering the first of the 21 Hatton Locks when we arrived. Moving in behind us was another pair of Narrowboats. The first 5 Locks went smoothly. The holidaymakers lost all but their remaining two windlasses in the Locks. Some of the crew from the 2 boats behind us were being over-helpful trying to work our Lock for us. I agreed they could help my ‘friend’ who had breathing problems but I was not happy with them taking control of our lock operation and the pressure they were putting on us.  One of the boats was a ‘Skippered Narrowboat Charter’ boat and I am assuming they had a deadline to meet. Well their logistics should not be my problem.
Photo archived from 2014! No time to take photos 2015

The holiday boats, in front of us, stopped for lunch giving us a clear run ahead up the remaining 10 Lock rise to the top of the Hatton Flight. It proved to be a tough run for me. There was no sign of anyone in charge of the Locks or C&RT Volunteers in ‘high vis’ clothing. The only sign of C&RT was a tent set up to attract people for donations. I was ‘cream-crackered’ 4 Locks from the top and the C&RT tent people were reluctant to help saying they haven’t had training and weren’t wearing life jackets. My breathless ‘Lock’ partner appeared late enough to be able to use her challenged breathlessness to talk with the C&RT representatives. No sign of her flaking.

We did get to the top. I breathed from the bottom of my lungs and kept my mouth shut. What joy to get away from the gongoozlers and moor up at our favourite spot in rural Rowington.


 I think when the time comes to do ‘The Hatton’ again we should breast up with a willing boat that gives us all, at best, 3 fit people to work the Locks. Third time up the Hatton, for me, and I’m over it, for now. A double dose of Ibuprofen was needed the next morning.

I think I spent the night dreaming Locks.

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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.