Saturday, 30 April 2016



Well the plan is to cruise and more or less we are underway. Although there is no overall destination there are appointments, of health matters, needing the Captn’s attendance. Luckily the Bus Pass is a brilliant tool except for the ‘twirly’ (too early) appts, then the trusty car is needed. One day I expect to be old enough for a Bus Pass. There was a time, I remember, when I couldn’t wait for the day I would be a teenager. “Why?” I ask myself because I remember becoming the normal adolescent- from-hell. “Old people are so out of date and know nothing.” Oh and old people were at least 30 years old. I was the first kid to have life experiences and why should I tell anyone. It was confusing. Now I know different of course or was I off course! Anyway that was then and now I am at the age where I am not old enough for a Bus Pass. “Get over it, how lucky am I?!!!” I am fortunate to get to my age, have excellent health and continuing love from my man. I have reached the age where ‘old’ friends are not making it to old age, a right we always believed we had in the perfect world that does not exist.
Barrow Deep Lock ahead

We are moored near the Barrow Deep Lock at Barrow-on-Soar. As it is called the Barrow Deep Lock there is no surprise in finding out at 9’7” it is not a shallow lock! Della was very excited, yesterday, when we walked to the Lock and found a number of children lying down watching 2 large canoes rising in the Lock. Well they were lying down until she appeared surprised at seeing humans at her level. The Teacher was quick to remind the kids to lie down as a safety precaution at the Lock. I suggested to Della that she lie down but I wasn’t dominant enough for her to obey!

There are more than enough pegs at the Lock mooring and we are tied up, for a few days. The C&RT enforcement Officer will be aware that we are there. There is no signage saying no mooring ever, in fact there is no signage and we are planning to leave on Sunday.
During the meantime we have been busy, no time for snoozing or cruising. There have been a number of ‘finishing-off’ jobs and we have been making a start.....
I’m not a natural born painter-decorator. I have done a lot of house painting interior and exterior jobs, having been married to the unsettled carpenter for close on ¼ century. We have renovated some amazing places but I think I prefer ‘muck’, aka cement render, to wood. I think I’m pedantic at trying to get gunky bits close to perfect and I take it personally if I don’t get it right. So I let the carpenter get involved and get the project moving. Looking good and cosy homely. The ship’s wheel was a breeze for me.
Wheely good

Lastly, finishing with the weather. Close to two seasons in one day all week! And I’m not talking summer or autumn. There is only hope that there may be summer, this year. We have had the odd hint of a sun that could be warm, one day, and it maybe spring then the grey cover spreads bringing hail and snow with rain! I wish whoever is in charge would fix the leak in the sky! I heard the slugs are happy, this year, no winter cold to freeze their slimy bodies. Wait til they visit the lager bath!
Cruise is planned for Sunday whatever the weather.

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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.