Friday, 27 May 2016

BREAKING NEWS ...... LOCK GRAB – Hitch with a side hatch

We left Alrewas, early this morning. There was a trickle of boat traffic in front of us and the chap in the boat, in front, was a sad person who was wearing a troubled life on his shoulders. My instinct is to be helpful but I am wary of certain people. I was on the Lock role, at the first 2 Locks. Chappy, in front was solo and I did help him, a little, at the Lock. The next Lock, he departed leaving his emotional baggage and I got the Lock emptied and gates open for Captn to bring DB into. You know I was paying little attention, well no attention to DB slowly entering the Lock. I’m best informed to moderate my helpful nature and button my control of most situations!

I heard an agonising ‘grunch’ (onomatopoeia for combined groan and crunch) as half of the bedroom side-hatch was amputated from DB by the Lock Gate. It sounded as awful as the damage looked. I was alerted, by the noise, that something damaging had happened. I heard a plop and automatically gestured to Cptn to stop. That was unnecessary as DB was moving into stop mode anyway as she was almost fully in the Lock by this time.

In the candy floss that used to be my brain, I was looking for a piece of wood surfacing in the Lock. Thinking back there was the wooden lining on the side hatch that I had painted. Looking down over DB I saw Cptn appear on the stern with the heavy duty BIG magnet on a long piece of narrow rope. He dropped the magnet into the water and started fishing around on the Lock bottom in search of connection with the Side Hatch. Patience is a virtue and Cptn patiently fished around until he spoke these words. “I’ve found it.” He pulled it up to the surface and it was just out of reach so he watched as it slipped off the magnet and back into the water! “Get the Boat Pole.” I was instructed, as he fished around with the magnet. Soon the Side Hatch was on the magnet and as it was pulled to the surface the heavy duty plastic hook of the boat pole was put in position. The Side Hatch was lifted aboard....tut tut.
Hmm and we thought an amputated side hatch was a problem!

We have moored up, for the night in Handsacre, Staffs. Cptn has become Carpenter and done a temporary repair on the gap left by the Side Hatch. Security and weather protection are sorted temporarily.

How lucky that Chris is multi-skilled. No sleep to be lost.

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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.