Saturday, 16 July 2016


Wheelhouse Canopy 

Once we got moving down the Shroppie we got moving. The Wheel house canopy has been tweaked and with a new metal beam and a replaced metal beam, both with a noticeable tangential curve that will eliminate the ‘ponding’ that was caused by the central straight metal beam. It was a design fault but the result is well worth the time and effort we put in to getting it sorted out.

With the continued never-ending inclement weather we are putting the Wheel house frame and canopy up each time we moor (less than 15mins work) and the stern canopy goes up (another 15mins work) if we plan to stay for more than one night! If the weather looked like a long settled period, once referred to as Summer, then we’d not bother with canopysing (I invented that word!) the stern end of DB.
Crossing Nantwich Aquaduct

Our plan is to cruise South and get away from the watery skies that are beginning to drown my attempts to ‘chillax’. We left Nantwich under fair-weather and remembered the moorings near the secret nuclear bunker and where we had seen a couple of hot air balloons flying above us when we were on AM in 2011. I had forgotten it was also in the vicinity of the clay pigeon shooting range but was reminded when I started to hear some vibrating bangs not long after mooring. Della tuned into the noise quickly and started to look agitated with mild shaking. The solution was to untie the ropes and cruise away from this noise as we didn’t want to upset Della.
Della looking to Overwater Marina

We found a nice mooring site near Overwater Marina and not far to the Audlem Flight of locks. The Marina was not in our view just beautiful countryside and we thought we could stay here for a couple of nights. The only sight that annoyed me was a boat cooker that had been fly-tipped on the side of the towpath. Lazy so and so’s. I have been thinking about people’s attitude to rubbish. This includes the small stuff, as well. I remember in the early 70’s there was a ‘Be a Tidy Kiwi’ campaign that affected me in my school years. To this day I still remember it and the feeling of pride I had at being a tidy Kiwi. I still keep putting rubbish where rubbish should go!
Reflecting on night vision

When it came time to move on, we planned an early start on the run of 15 Locks. And we were the first on the move from the bottom of the flight. Another boat turned up, behind us, just as we were on the rise in the first Lock. Fab, it was holiday makers from Sth Africa who were in a hurry to get up the Locks and their ‘Lead’ Lockie helped us, as well. We started to meet other boats, eventually, coming down the flight and synchronicity came into play. All good.

After the Audlem Flight, we stopped for breakfast and I walked back to the Farm Shop at the Top Lock. I couldn’t turn down a tray of 2 ½ dozen farm eggs for £5. It amazes me how the hens can put a printed red number on a clean egg shell. Country farming has come a long way.

The Adderley 5 Locks were next. The traffic was mostly one way and there was some waiting involved. I gave some help at the first Lock to the solo boater, in front. He wasn’t exactly happy with my assistance; he didn’t think it was necessary to move out of the Lock until the boat waiting for the next Lock ahead had gone into the Lock. I think he was not in favour of women, saw them as bossy and he said the name of his boat read backwards as his ex-wife’s name. Whatever, I got behind the helm of DB and left Chris to Lock with ‘matey’.

We soon made it to Drayton (aka Market Drayton) and got a good 48 hour mooring, where we overstayed ever so slightly due to rain! Nice place and friendly boaters passing through.
Thanks to Ray & Linda on Miss Elouise for your friendship and help with the positioning adjustment to the stern fender and the addition of the button fender. It was bloke’s work and you and Chris both did a fine job.

Arthur leads AM

I was sitting out undercover on the stern minding my own business when I heard a siren horn blast and “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah...” being called. I stuck my head out and saw ‘Arthur’ on the bow of Nb AVALON MIST!!!  It was a wonderful sight and we were both so pleased to see Chris and Kev and see how they had made her their home. I had forgotten the sound of AM’s horn, but I still think it is cool and unique on the canal.

Off again to the 5 Tyrly Locks. The Canal was busy, that day, probably because there was a bright light in the sky! We pulled out and were well underway when another boat decided to pull out in front of us. It was one of those things but, in my book, if the coast is not clear you wait. They obviously didn’t want to be in the back of the queue for the Locks.

These Tyrly Locks have a vicious side wash below the lower two Locks and we had discussed ways of dealing with this with NB MissElouise and the method to try with Tyrly was with the bottom gates open for access, at the same time wind up the top ground and gate paddles with the hope the side wash would diminish. And YES, our discussed surge management plan worked! As DB made a controlled entrance into the Lock, I wound the top paddles down.
Woodseaves Cutting

At the top lock, the Nb that had pulled out in front of us, earlier on, waited until we had got out of the Lock and let us go first. We guessed they were going to let us lead them through the narrow Woodseaves Cutting and we would be able to let oncoming boat traffic know that they were following. Were they conniving or were we getting paranoid?  So we got to Woodseaves Cutting and just as we were going around a blind bend we saw the nose of an oncoming boat! Holidaymakers, they were considerate. They stopped and edged into the bushes and we got through with no steel kisses. It doesn’t have to be a contact sport. I gestured to the boat behind to stop and that was the last we saw of them.
Nature's offering

We thought of stopping at Norbury Junction but there were few moorings and no Internet hot spot. 

We called it a day when we got to Gnosall got set up for rain.

Water and mooring!

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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.