Tuesday, 11 August 2015


Della's view

As much as I can imagine, or is it dream, what our cruising plan is I have come to the realisation, albeit belatedly, that I am not aspiring to be prophetic! Just got to learn keeping my lips zipped is the best solution.

We are on the border of Shakespeare territory which must inspire Blog soliloquies. Ponder this Shakespeare reborn as a motivational Canal Boat Blogger wordsmith. 
Whether it is the call of the 21st Century ‘random’ ticking a box, 
Or to wear a Hi- vis jacket under the gaze of ‘Elf n Safety, 
No more algorithms flowing in my chart, 
The flesh is tough and the mind is withering under the torture of Bureaucrapolgy. 
Learned Billy silly Billy wherefore-art-thou Billy? 
The madness is on the rise!

Back to DB and our reality. Up until a few days ago we were moored outside the Navigation Pub, near Bridge 65 on the Grand Union Canal. Nice spot. The weather, yes the weather, has clearly been overcast more often than clearly clear. We are comfortable on our Ark and the threat of rain is up to the meteorologist, 52% at midday today. Seeing is believing and I saw nothing! I think I just get sick of the days when they are gray/grey... Whinge on.....
What does he think?


We were almost cajoled by a couple of warm days featuring  patchy blue sky to plan our cruise down to Sharpness and cross the Bristol Channel, with a pilot of course, to Bristol and travel up the Kennet & Avon Canal (yes, there is another River Avon, flowing down there, in the Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset area.) A series of 3 investigative visits to Bridges 40 and 41 on the Stratford Canal armed with a boat pole and tape measure, using our eyes to keenly observe the transit of Narrowboats through Lock 31 into Bridge 41 we made the decision that DB would take the plunge and head to Stratfor-upon-Avon. Then we read the projected weather forecast for August and decided that rain and wind in the West was not favourable. We also heard that Narrowboats were waiting days at Sharpness, to cross the Bristol Channel, due to high winds. Oh well there is always next year. Let’s turn around and go down to London.

Before we left our Navigation Pub mooring, we gathered some seasoned wood in the form of up to one metre long logs that were lying at the side of the towpath camouflaged under the green hedgerow. 2400 return steps away from DB. Two sack trolleys and 4 trips later, we were in business. Logs stacked on DB’s Bow we set off for Rowington Ridge stopping to fill up with water at the fast fill Tom o’ the Wood water point. Next day Chris was in his element with the chain saw and I was in my element chopping rounds of wood with the axe. I find it cathartic don’t ask me why! Now we are prepared for cold weather with wood stacked away in various nooks and crannies on DB.
This is the proper way to see things.

Since beginning this Blog we have come down the Hatton Flight. This time we made a good choice with our ‘partner’ boat with 4 of us working the Locks. I even decided to have some time steering DB into the Locks. “Slow down” entering the Locks was helpful feedback. I have to say that watching DB go into a Lock from the ground always looks like it is travelling at speed and I tend not to watch DB going into the Lock these days. Practise will build my competency.
Snug fit at Hatton Lock

We passed through Leamington Spa, yesterday, and filled the cupboards with provisions leaving us enough time to get to Itchington. Another good Lock share, and a peaceful night in the country.

I have walked 119kms since 20/07/15. I am thinking I could offer my services or is it charge my services to trial walking shoes for Boaters!

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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.