Friday, 8 April 2016


YES we are not on land but tied up and plugged in at Union Wharf, Market Harborough. Does this mean we are grounded on water because we are not moving?  It is a calm place to adjust our pace and mindset to living as water gypsies. It goes without saying but I’ll write it, we do feel at home again on DB and we are excited about cruising. There have been a few appointments for routine body maintenance, nothing to do with DB.

A couple of days ago, being in my Pinocchio frame of mind, I asked Cptn what he was doing on his laptop as he purposefully finger tip tapped the keyboard.
“Thanking.” he answered
“Who are you thanking?” I was puzzled.
“No, Banking.” He replied.
Was he mumbling or is my hearing becoming compromised? Banking, of course, it’s the bugbear.

The Bank, not to be named by me, in receipt of our attention invited a domino effect of events that are comedic material and must be shared. This hit my giggle button. I mean how could they be so inadequate, try as I may to be empathetic it’s just not happening.

It’s about an Internet banking Login failure that would have been dealt with IF the Bank had posted a new Log on PIN to our postal address, as they said they would. It should have been waiting for us, on our return from Spain. It wasn’t. A phone call to #0800 and they agreed to post a new Log on PIN but that is a problem as we are not near our postal address SO could they send it to a local Branch of said Bank near us. SO yes all Cptn has to do is make a request for Log on PIN at local Branch!

Cptn, accompanied by Della-the Navigator, walks to local Branch to make the request as mentioned above.
He is informed by gushing Bank officer “There is a new system in place and all you have to do is Log on to your account and you will be sent new Log on details.”
“Que? Der! How am I going to Log on if I can’t access my account because I need a Log on PIN to do this?”
Bank officer replies “Hmm yes well you’d better phone the 0800#. Use our phone.”
Real time 0800# voice says “Yes we can give you Log on details BUT first you need to sign up for the service WHICH means you have to log on to do this.”
Confused and bemused Captn discusses how can this be resolved and is told by real time 0800# voice “Complaints service.”
Cptn waits, holding the receiver, for more than 10 minutes when real time 0800# voice returns giving the following response “Sorry sir, you are not able to make a complaint because they are still dealing with another complaint you made, some months ago.”

You can be sure Cptn will never be caught in the ‘apathy’ trap.

The sooner we are chugging along on DB the sooner I can put my head in the clouds!

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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.