Saturday, 19 September 2015


This blog is a reply to Lisa in response to her comment on my previous blog. Try, as I do, to respond to Blog comments I my posts to REPLY just don’t work. So in response to Lisa....

Chris is Yorkshire born and his family moved to NZ, much to his chagrin, when he was a young child and he was close to desperate to get back to Blighty in the swinging 60’s. And he did. The last thing on his mind, some years later, was to team up with a Kiwi.

Sarah, me that is I, is from NZ and was keen to ‘do’ my OE ( old term, overseas experience,  now known as ‘Gap year’) before I settled down to  ‘normal’ life. I met Chris in London, we moved to Portugal where he had a donkey stable in a field and so began our ‘good life’ in the ‘United States’ of Europe. 11 years later we left our ‘love nest’ and the bureaucracy that frustrated us, and returned to begin a new life in NZ with me thinking this could be our forever plan. Sadly our two dogs, Blue and Dolcie, were not fit for this journey.
Blue & Dolcie

It soon became clear, when Chris was battling a life threatening illness that he wanted and needed to return to England, his ‘mother’ country, and all that could humour and challenge him there along with the possibility of mainland Europe beckoning, as well.

In 2009, a couple of ‘friends’ asked us about possible holiday adventures in England, Chris immediately thought about Narrowboat holidays. The friends ended up renting a ‘Tupperware’ boat on the Thames, and the seed was planted with the dream of us returning to England to live on a Narrowboat-to-be. Chris and I spent a lot of time searching Narrowboats for sale on the Apollo Duck website.

In 2010 Chris flew to England on a mission to either look for a Boat Builder to build us a boat, or to purchase a ‘pre-loved’ Narrowboat should one take his fancy. NB Avalon Mist (AM) was for sale at Devises Marina and Chris made the decision that she will be a good starter for us and we could afford to buy her. Purchase made and the following year, 2011, we both came to England to try out the lifestyle and move AM to Mercia Marina near Derby.
Della holds a mouthful of Ball

2012, we packed up our home in NZ and flew to England in mid March. Della, our Miniature Schnauzer, was flown over seven weeks later to join us on Nb Avalon Mist. 

April 2014 we moved aboard Nb DolcieBlue...........

DB unplugged!
Lock-n-Lol with Nb DolcieBlue

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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.