Thursday, 23 June 2016


The Navigator is always on the look-out

Even in the slow chillaxed cruise mode we are not without itinerary changes. 

Barbridge Pub Mooring

We moved to beautiful Chester from Nantwich with the plan of going to Ellesmere Port, the end or the beginning of the ‘Shroppie’ (Shropshire Union Canal), with the knowledge of impending paperwork and an inspection from a ‘surveyor’ from the Manchester Ship Canal so we could use the Canal with the big ships to get to the River Weaver. (I’m realising, in England or is it Great Britain that rivers are named as the River ‘Blah Blah’ not the ‘Blah Blah’ River. In NZ the anglicised name of the River comes first e.g. the Clutha River.

Chester mooring

We enjoyed a pleasant and must be returned to, 2 nights in Chester, where we took prime moorings within easy walking distance of the beautiful Elizabethan/Tudor CBD not forgetting the Cathedral and  the city ramparts. As what happens every year it was my birthday and I had fun visiting the plethora of ‘Op Shops’ (Charity Shops) and spending minimal amounts of money. Our mooring was outside an Indian restaurant sandwiched between a dog friendly Cafe/ Restaurant and a dog friendly Pub. Need I say more? At the Pub we met some interesting people, a couple up from the ‘Land of London’ of 8.7 million people and another couple (it was ‘her’ birthday too and I was advised to google the Gemini-Cancer cusp for astrological information about the whys and wherefores that could make up, in my words, my ‘poisonality’). They were from Keswick (popn @5,300) in the Lake District who have a link with the ‘Prince of Darkness’.   Oh the joy of speaking with ‘randoms’ meant in the nicest possible way.
Boats can go up and down

Leaving Chester, The Staircase Locks was C&RT volunteer ‘manned’  which we were grateful for. They are deep dastardly locks and we had checked them out a couple of days before, on a Sunday. There was no volunteer working and a Narrowboat was moving up the staircase. We, as ‘the helpfuls’ helped out and lucky that we did as the gate into the Top Lock from the Middle Lock would not budge when it looked like it should move! 

Leaky leaky....

Obviously the Lock waters had not met level, problem with the leaky top lock gate.... I can picture why and how we resolved it but no need to explain it. Playing with paddles, in the Staircase system, was involved and a silent cheer from the handful of Gongoozlers when the gates opened.

“Thank you ever so much” was the warm message of appreciation from Mr & Mrs Fellow Boaties.

Doer uppers? It doesn't float my boat!!

We cruised on to Ellesmere Port enjoying the rural cruise and excited what the new adventure would bring. The Port is a Museum and we were able to moor up, down below so to speak, for a small fee. 
Are there pirates?

We anticipated we would be staying for a couple of nights while we got the paperwork for the Manchester Ship Canal attended to and paid for. That was when we first heard that there was a problem with the Lock onto The River Weaver from the shipping canal. 

Manchester Ship Canal

Sure enough, a phone call later and we were informed the Lock is out of use and waiting for a ‘Diver’s’ report. There was no identified timescale for this and we thought to head back to Chester the following day.
First was a night at the Museum. No pirates!
How many DB's go into Cuddington?

We hadn’t thought about having a Plan B and we have yet to confirm what we will do. 

Thx Mr Volunteer

But we had another night in Chester. I changed my Banjo (Birthday present) for a Bass Ukulele to begin my collection of Ukuleles! 

It's all about the Bass....

I have my trusty and much loved and used Cordoba concert Uke.
Tra la la........................

Sometimes I get to mosaic my paua pieces. Creativity is sanity!

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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.