Tuesday, 15 September 2015


The Heron guides the Wey
The Murky Wey
The waters of the River Wey are nowhere close to being clear water but it is a beautiful navigation from its mouth onto the River Thames, at Weybridge (you guessed it Weymouth, Devon, is at the mouth of the 5.5 mile R. Wey). It follows a meandering route through Guildford and  beyond to Goldalming, the end of boat navigation.  
Dunkirk Boats not in the Wey

We moored up in the free 24 hour moorings, temporarily occupied and vacated by the Dunkirk boats, the night before we went on The Wey.

We had an early start and were up and a-Wey to the Thames Lock where we were met by ‘friendlies’ of the National Trust for Historic places and Picturesque bits  who are responsible for the 20 mile River Wey navigation. A very helpful and friendly 30 minutes passed while we shared our DB info, signed an ‘I will obey’ document, handed over money to secure our passage on the Wey, and given the windlass with the long handle that will overcome any challenging lock paddle or person we will or might come across along the Wey. The windlass was loaned to me under threat of payment if we didn’t return it. I couldn’t see any reason to keep it and it was too big to lose.
The sluice is open!

Instructions on Lock operation were fore and aft ropes to be used when filling the Lock. The water enters the Lock through the sluice at high pressure. Tricky for one person to manage both ropes and winding up paddle. For the two of us it was probably easier but I needed to be in two places at once. Given that I am fit and aging, I was able to move with the flow but I do wish that natures finest natural wooden bollards had a stick-out  t  so the rope could be tied more securely, as the paddle is being raised and the rope is albeit briefly left unattended.

The long handle of the Wey windlass does give helpful leverage to wind up the ‘paddle’ but it needs a straight arm to turn it and avoid harming the sticky out bits in one’s upper torso.
Elvis sings
Weir on the Wey

There are two positives about the Lock gates

1.     1.  As a tree hugger, the wooden gates are large, smooth and not cold to get up close to. An occasional gate hug is necessary to get the open / close momentum started. If that doesn’t work there is a T handle on the end of a chain attached to the end of the gate  that can be pulled to open the gate.

2.      2. Both gates are left open when your boat leaves the Lock. I like this idea.

The River Wey is a relaxing and peaceful and the navigation snakes its way up to Guildford and beyond to Godalming. We went as far as St Catherine’s Lock and winded just before the Lock. The reason being Max Headroom was going to bother us a wee Wey beyond this Lock at Broadford Bridge which is 6’4” at normal water levels. For DB to pass under this bridge we would need to remove our roof paraphernalia, in other words 2 x Roof Boxes! No Wey we thought.
Keith's Anzac Biscuit stop.

We had Keith, our mate, aboard for a few hours so we pulled into the channel just before St Catherine’s Lock and rested with DB’s nose poking out into the river. A ‘worker’ powered dinghy went past and the chap aboard said
“In all my 30 years of working on this navigation I have never seen anyone pull in where you have. Very nice.”
“Look no ropes!” I said.

Newark Lock

Highlights on the Wey are, briefly:
 Remote few and far between moorings, friendly people walking and talking on the towpath, no boat congestion, going rope free down the Locks, the fresh bowl of free home produce with the best windfall Bramley apples.

An aWey day and more is a MUST.

                                                                   Surrey rules OK.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I just found your blog, it caught my eye as we have recently left the River Wey too.
    I noticed that you mentioned NZ in your "Brief History" and also California, at the risk of being a snooper may I ask if you are an American/New Zealander couple? If yes, I am interested as to how you came to buy a boat and start off boating! We boaters are quite a collection of folk eh? But really I don't mean to pry, I am only interested.
    NB What a Lark


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.