Sunday, 18 September 2016


Brentford Basin

The plan, this year, had always been to go up the Grand Union Canal (GU) from the start to finish, a way of getting close to our winter mooring. The temptress of the R. Thames laid its bait as we cruised, easily, along her waters and we did a tally up of pros and cons before we decided we would definitely go UP the GU Canal. We have done Norton Junction to Brentford, which was so last year! It’s Brentford to Norton Junction then continue on the GU Canal-Mainline to Birmingham. I know there are a ‘lorra’ Locks and miles of canal but it is not a ‘bar-steward’ and with Cptn and I sharing the helm and Locks, we can do it ‘piece of cake’.

Brentford Basin, once we had secured our prime visitor mooring position, was a good resting place for a week while Cptn sorted out his dental work-to-be-done, in London. Positive decision made, now watch this space, the tooth fairy will return the missing one!

Cptn has been busy getting DB’s eye-candy plan ready. So with the first delivery of A4 size stick on colour vinyl plastic, we could make a start on decorating the exterior of DB. A blank canvas, that we have always received high praise for her lines. Now we are getting random comments about her aesthetic plan.

'Statue Bro'?

“You are BRAVE!”
“It (sic.coloured vinyl plastic) looks interesting; amazing; wow.....” Depending on age and (L) or (R) Brain dominant.

Time passed quietly in the Basin. Della had a groom.  We went for a walk into Syon Park, London home of the Northumberland’s, and were gob-smacked to see the mass of vehicles belonging to the  huge film unit currently in occupation. As to be expected, there was no information given to what was being filmed apart from it’s a sequel to a blockbuster movie. Oh well, I’ll have to wait until it comes out on DVD and is in the local charity shop for resale! Sorted.

We had visits from some of our London friends, before we cruised into the sunset. Great to catch up and recharge the friendship batteries! Sorry to Annabel who got a £60 parking fine, on a bleeding Sunday, in the Brentford Basin office car park. No-one uses it on a Sunday, for heaven’s sake! Get me out of London, I thought........
Moving on up, moving on out.
So, happily, we left Brentford Basin at midday on Monday. The water levels were low but we were more than keen to get underway. Our mooring was taken straight away by a wide-beam boat. The Basin had been full all week with London boat people. It’s a way of life. 

There is a neglected plastic boat that looked burglarised and I wonder what C&RT are doing about it. I’m sure the Enforcement Officer knows and there will be some lengthy costly procedure taking place....

Asking for it.....

It is so unfair for people who use the waterways responsibly.
There's a book in this!
The cruise up the Hanwell Flight of 8 Locks is not an experience I’d rush back to. We did the 2 Locks before the flight, and 6 of the 8 Hanwell Locks before calling it a day. The green algae covered waters are not pretty and, I think, synonymous with London canal waters. 

Does algae have floating rights?

There is work to be done, on this flight and I think if it were my backdoor waters I’d be out giving a helping hand! All I wanted to do, now, was get on out of here.
Hot day starting up
Next day, we were ready for an early start. The day was forecast to be hot, and we were keen to be off. I took Della for her early morning walk with windlass in hand; she had to walk the gang plank as the water was too shallow to be moored directly alongside the towpath. The gang plank training at Wargrave Marsh on the R. Thames, had given Della confidence to walk the plank. We went to the Lock ahead and I wound a gate paddle to empty it. We walked on up to the top lock and there was a wide-beam boat about to enter it. I let them know we would be coming up and to leave the gates open as they left the Lock. I stopped emptying the Lock below and began filling it so it would be ready for them. I thought they would be down, at our level, before we were ready for the Lock.

They were just approaching the Lock, from above, as we were approaching, from below. They didn’t show confidence in what they were doing and I couldn’t resist giving them words to get moving. Apparently he used to moor on the River Lee but now moored in London. Surprise surprise. He had been a boater for 6 years and had cruised the boat down from middle England. “Oh, one of those.” I said. I’m turning into a bitchy old cow, transparent and robust with little empathy for diversity. It’s not right!! 

Get me out of London. I made an attempt, on August 1st at 0630 hrs, to book a mooring space at Rembrandt Gardens, Paddington with C&RT for 6 – 12 September. In hindsight I was lucky that I didn’t get the mooring. I think to be almost certain of being allocated a space, the email has to be sent on the dot of 00:00hrs 1st of the month for the month ahead.... That will be a new game for me!

Bull's Bridge and the GU Paddington Arm

We cruised straight ahead at Bull’s Bridge and ‘Up’ the GU to get through Cowley Peachy, Uxbridge and beyond to Copper Mill Lock, Harefield. 

Double berthed on Widewater Lock Moorings! I saw 'car'boat near here, last year. 

We were on the way and little sign of boats on the move.

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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.