Friday, 19 February 2016


Where have all the cars gone? Long time passing!

Like a boat out of water so are our days on the Costa Blanca Espaῇa. I’m not saying I don’t belong, I belong as much as I do anywhere in this global world, but my happy space has to be NbDolcieBlue or is it our ‘wide-beam’ apartment on land in Los Montesinos. Chris, Della and I have a fortunate life full of change. There are challenging times but only when I put up my own obstacles.

So NbDolcieBlue is grounded, literally, and we are into month 4 under the winter-sun in Spain. The drive to our home in Spain was a piece of cake, taking 4 days and we enjoyed the comfortable budget accommodation found on  A change to the continual 24 hour car journeys we used to do, when we were younger, to and from Portugal.

Is the United States of Europe what I thought would develop after Britain signed up with the E.E.C in 1973 and dropped trade with its colonies? I don’t know. Actually it never crossed my mind then. All I remember was my ‘land of milk and honey’ aka NZ was cast adrift for better or worse and my meagre salary dropped under Muldoon. 
21st Century Europe is homogenised and, in my opinion, George Orwell’s 1984 ‘Big Brother’ is evident. Forget the celebrity-ized reality thingy that Google search engine finds when you search Big Brother. Bah humbug!

Yes, between Chris and I, we have been most fortunate in being able to experience life in evolving mainland Europe in the last 30 years....England, Portugal, with a bit of France, and now Espaῇa. I never thought we would actually buy in Spain but it has made sense to do so. Have a beautiful and social dog, like Della, and no day passes without meeting people with or without dogs. Nationalities abound...Spanish, British, Norwegian, Irish, German, Swedish, Kurdish, Danish, French, Belgians, and Dutch (There are 28 countries that make up the European Union. Norway is part of the EEA {European Economic Area} and although not a member of the European Union, they can still live and work in the EU). Yes our discussions are in English, the universal language. Chris and I, both, try to talk to people from Spain in our pigeon Spanish using our days of Portuguese vocabulary to help us along. It’s respect!

So why are we all in the Costa Blanca? Yes it has to be the weather as the bait that has been bitten. The winter is a long time arriving and it really hasn’t come although the sun is taking a break, this week. A week ago we were sitting out under 25C at the beach. Today we are under the cover of a grey cloudy sky and a drop of rain.

Shhh.... Nice change and the oxalis is blooming!

Solarium view towards Las Salinas de Torrevieja

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.