Friday, 14 August 2015


So I wasn't concentrating, I was tired and sitting on the new bench seat on the starboard side of the  stern deck under the warm sun as we cruised along the Grand Union Canal near Lower Shuckburgh in the direction of Braunston. I’d worked more than 10 Locks, earlier, and had a brief steer of DB while Chris ate his lunch. Now I was sitting down absorbed in a bit of Android Therapy on my phone and paying no attention to what was viewing on the Canal! In hindsight I would have been safe seated on the port side bench where my location would be mid Canal. This stretch of Canal was busy with boat traffic either on the move or moored up meaning that boats can be 3 abreast at times. I was confident with Chris’s skill on the wheel and had no reason to be watching our movement so I jumped out of my skin when 'THWACK' suddenly my open Right eye got punched out by a giant overhanging branch. “AAAARGHHH!!” It was a powerful and my phone flew down on the deck. I was in shock and feeling the pain. I took off to the bathroom guided by my Left eye and placed a wet flannel over my damaged eye. I didn’t want to check out my eye socket straight away! I was ranting and raving to myself, as no one else would hear, and I was so pissed off that I hadn’t been watching the overgrown foliage on the Canal bank and taken cover!

At the time of writing this I have put 2+2 together and can confidently add up what happened to DB's name on the stern! The 'UE' must have been damaged just after my eye took the beating. I removed the L but that's another Blog.

To find a ‘positive’ in this painful experience, I am lucky my eye wasn't plucked out and I am fortunate the injury is minor to the white aka sclera of my eye and has not interfered with my vision. I haven’t got a black eye so I can’t blame Chris for beating me up. He wouldn't do that anyway!
Yep my eye is a little sore but is healing. Now I need to write to C&RT and point out where the overgrowth on the Canal needs pruning. More importantly if I am going to relax outdoors as we cruise then always sit where no danger lurks!

On a happy note, later that day, we moored up in front of NB Waiouru. I had met up with Tom and Jan, last year, on the Oxford Canal near Braunston so it was pleasing to reacquaint with them. Given that there are a number of Narrowboats with Maori names, it is good to meet Kiwis that occupy them! 

Nb Waiouru, in behind

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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.