Friday, 20 May 2016


Stenson Lock was the perfect stop for a few days that became a week. Great mooring site with hard standing, mooring rings and not too busy with passing traffic. Boats rarely moored overnight and the Lock was personned 7 days by uniformed (not uninformed) C&RT volunteers, many from the boat ‘burbs at Mercia Marina. I think the volunteers do a great service for the holiday boat rental lock novices. Stenson Lock is a deep one and the vision of water entering the filling lock initially from opening the ground paddles followed by the gradual opening of the gate sluices can invoke fear rather than awe. Yes I think it is best to have a dutiful person doing the deed. As for me, I’m Lady Lock-n-Lol, I sometimes appreciate a breather especially when the Lock paddles are not as forgiving as most that I encounter. Stenson Lock does have one paddle with issues.

Home improvements continue on DB but with less gusto than earlier. Door frames in the bathroom got a tentative coat of top coat but are still in progress.

Dog walks were great. Della warms to the scent of squirrels and rabbits but, to date, she doesn’t make contact. The moorhen chicks are starting to appear. We need to watch Della as she can make their life appearance very short. The hissy swans are nesting and the Canada Geese are parading their ‘yellow’ chicks.
Moorhen chick 

We walked a good mile, likely 2km, to Mercia Marina from Stenson and not forgetting we walked back. Della and I did it, one way, a few days later and Cptn drove us back. It was lovely to see old friends and familiar faces at the Marina. I dived into a couple of the ‘Life’ Laundry spots to check out junk and treasure opportunities. That’s all I’m disclosing or declaring.

I do understand how people feel at home in a welcoming and organised community but I do not miss living in boat urbanisation. Life moving along the waters of the Canals and Rivers has a free and independent feel. Sure there are some rules and responsibilities but no great shakes.

A spontaneous moment saw us become land lovers for an afternoon when we drove into the Peak District, along country roads and gasp at the natural eye candy of Spring beauty over the fields and far away. 

Chatsworth House

I had seen some of the countryside during a bleak midwinter when I worked, briefly, in Bakewell over 2 years ago. It was lovely then but even lovelier now.

How lucky are we to explore near and far, on the same day and then return to DB and know we have hit the jackpot. I don’t even have to buy a Lotto ticket.

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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.