Thursday, 14 April 2016


The Band of Horse Brasses

I finally got ‘a round tuit’ and completed half of a whole task that is one of many long standing finishing DB projects planned for this cruising season. I suppose being, currently, grounded on water is floating our boat and it makes sense not to waste time on twiddling fingers without purpose! Well that is my thoughts.

The project in my hands is ‘tarting up’ the door that is in situ between the living room and bathroom. When we first moved to live on DB in April 2014 we needed to sort out some privacy in the bathroom and we hung a rug over the gap. That is, our beautiful Moroccan rug purchased early this century on a trip to Maroc. You don’t go to that country without buying a rug. It was so lovely, the rug that is, and the experience, mostly. That rug went to Portugal where we used it as a wall hanging and the sun began to fade it, then it went to New Zealand and continued as a wall hanging to fade in the sun. With the move to England we had no plan for its use and it was locked up for a couple of years in the garage we rented for our diminishing stock of Life’s Laundry. I didn’t want to part with it and it was nice to make a functional feature of it on DB. Now the rug is on the floor in Spain!
Rug 'door'

Ikea’s Bargain Basement beckoned, last year, and Captain Carpenter found a couple of wardrobe doors that would suit the purpose of becoming bathroom doors. Like its owners, the doors are not peas in a pod and both need a bit of work to get them in aesthetic ‘door’ condition. I won’t even go into detail about me and Cptn!!
I spent some time, last year, filling and sanding plus undercoating one of the doors and then a couple of days ago I gave it more attention to detail so I could get a finish coat of paint on it.

I knew that once the living room door-side was painted then the 30 Horse Brass collection, from Nb Avalon Mist days, could be taken out from ballast duties and put on show.

Thanks to Cptn for banging them in along with the suggestion of putting the fancy brass bellows in central position. It makes me feel we have our crown jewels on display.

You know it’s all about the Brass...... 

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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.