Wednesday, 6 April 2016


On the third morning of our return to DolcieBlue, a new day dawned frosty but sunny. It has to be said there was no sleeping in with a feeling of big action today. It wasn’t moving mountains but it was moving our 4 walls! We heard the engine of the mobile crane resound as it kicked into action from where it is parked 50 metres from us. It was the first time we had seen the crane in action as we had left DB in water when we left her in October ’15.

View of a 'Mini-me DB'

We were told we were #2 in the boat movements today. The first boat for the mobile crane was the new arrival on the back of a truck. My curiosity for information was answered by my sleuthing skills. The truck, Tuckey’s (based in Southam), is the same company that delivered DB to Mercia Marina in July 2013. So that indicated that the boat on its trailer was possibly from Colecraft, the boatbuilders (Long Itchington) that built DB. The new build Narrowboat on the trailer was in the style of DB! Are we becoming common? Hardly!

Rise DB

After a long and patient wait it was our turn and it was an amazing experience. I didn’t have any collywobbles about it. I trusted these guys my yet to be penned parody of the song, ‘About the Bass’.... “It’s all about the boat, about the boat no pressure.”

Bye. (Why is Cptn carrying a ladder?)

Our beautiful @20~metric~tonne DolcieBlue was harnessed and raised off the ground. Sounds like Nb S&M!! 

Rust bum! We'll get this blacked next time.

Awestruck with open mouths at the presence of her steel splendour as she was carried, legless, to a resting place 50 metres from where she lifted and lowered onto a trailer which would attach to a tractor. 

Db's got wheels

Right down the country lane or Left to water?

Trailer skills

DB was towed to the final lift location where she waited 'in limbo' on the trailer parallel to the water’s edge.

Lift me up before you go-go

She was harnessed onto the static hoist, with tender loving care, and her centre of balance was found before she was raised and ‘inched’ (that’s not metric!) over the water and lowered slowly with hands steadying her to guide her into the tight bay. No splashing was involved.

Drop me in the water...a fitting end.

Yay Dolcieblue is back where she belongs, on the water.

Would we do this again?



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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.