Monday, 4 April 2016


The Day before

I suppose the heading is not pc (and it’s not techno talk) but DB does not have human rights, she is a steel boat and rust will never sleep. Rust can be kept at bay with attention. At the build of DB she had twin pack epoxy applied to her hull. We understood that this would give her hull protection for 5 years. 2 ½ years later has proven this is not the case and we need to take action before rust stays awake or pitting occurs.... blah blah blah. Her hull needs blacking! It wasn’t so bad but it wasn’t so good and we are proud of our vessel. A slip slap slop of bitumen paint is cheaper than epoxy which is cheaper than long lasting ‘Zinga’ (anti corrosive ‘zinc’ paint).

Now to play favourites with the spring weather fairy wishing we can get two coats on her before she is lifted back on water! No pressure. The weather forecast is mixed. Yes we are back on the wee Island of varied weather where the most we can be guaranteed is that there will be a little bit of whatever is forecast. Eyes down for purposeful action and eyes up to the clouds to recognise rain carriers!!
Chris, on the tools not toys, had the angle grinder with wire brush in use to prep the hull while I made a cup of tea or something. The down-wind was in our favour so I could get the paintbrush swinging without excuses! There was a lot of sq ft or cubic metres to cover. (Q. How long will it be before the EU create a law to end ‘willy nilly’ Imperial measure and use the metric system?  ‘Half’ a metre is OK.)

Well on Day 1 the paint flowed like the traffic in Spain and the hull was transformed. A few raindrops but nothing paint stopping!

We were nearly jumping for joy but we held back until we had done the second coat, the next day. I tell you we grinned from ear to ear after we had got the second coat done. Literally, seconds after we had finished it snowed light snow but it was snow!
The Day after

Happiness is the moment. Tired YES but FIT for age!

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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.