Monday, 26 September 2016


I enjoyed the experience of a brief late summer surge. It was melting heat for almost 3 days. It began with heavy morning dew that evaporated as the heat of the day rose to give a pleasant evening warmth lasting well into the night before the small hours chilled the humidity and dawn would begin with heavy dew – the nature of nature.

Rickmansworth Long Term Mooring

Using the Tesco mooring at ‘Ricky’ and I popped in to fill their trolley with my trolley and non essential items in the supermarket, mostly, for ballast. It’s amazing how accurate I get with filling my trolley, I think I am a contender for the terra firma Trolley Dolly! After breakfast we took off and caught up with the Australian and shared a few Locks to Cassiobury Park, Watford. We were going to moor up before the Iron Lock but we got grounded. A touch of Dredge-it would make a huge difference but fat chance of that happening. So we went to the shady moorings above the Iron Lock and took off, early the next day, sharing the Locks with father and daughter to Kings Langley. 


The early start meant I had time to varnish the oak now in situ on the side hatch interiors, and have a play on my Uke. Actually I play my Uke(s) pretty much daily. I want to be ready for  ‘Ukeoholics’  in Spain!

We set up the Wheel House canopy, as rain was forecast to fall and the late summer burst was going to end, that night! I managed to get some washing nearly dry on the clothesline and thankfully it became dry enough with a bit of creative positioning under the fading sunrays. Later, a passing thunderstorm was audible as the sky darkened and Della got a bit freaked! She never used to!! Thunder and fireworks are an anxiety trip for her now!!!
Spot the Lake!
Our overnight mooring near King’s Langley was rural and a wire fence embedded in the towpath hedgerow separated the canal and a fishing lake where some Anglers were camped. It was weird to wake up and hear voices, loud voices, as their tent started to flood. “Get a boat” I thought. The heavens opened and rain bucketed down until late morning. In hope that the rain was finished we untied DB and headed to the next Lock. The water levels were high which meant the Wheelhouse canopy needed to be removed before the Lock as a low bridge would have done the job for us!
Boat ahead tried to drown yesterday!

The rain started up again, and we got well washed going through Hemel Hempstead. We are becoming aware of the Widebeam boats, on the Cut, that seem to be Continuous Cruisers pretenders. They are moored on linear moorings either near bridges or on bends. I don’t think they are thoughtful about their size and I don’t think they play the rules. We, Narrowboaters, need to be understanding of their contribution to the Canals. I’m not sure what it is they offer! We pass some of these boats being fitted out. Yeah, I can see that a 14 Day mooring isn’t appropriate but they take the p***. The 14 footers are twice our width and their license fee depends on boat length like us. I know I’ve got to get over it but they need to be prepared for contact sport now becoming known as a ‘Westie’ after the steering skills of Timothy West as seen on TV. I do not aim to give a steel kiss but if they are in the way then they are in the way.

On the outskirts of Hemel, the rain was pouring down and I needed a bit of a push to go up the flooding Boxmoor Lock. The Canal was running more like a river, the Lock was overflowing and I was nervous with the thought of banging the pegs in above the Lock but there was another boat moored up there and I felt better that I left one back gate paddle raised, once we had ‘done’ the Lock. The water would then run away and down a side water drain to the River Bulbourne. I think said River is usually like a Creek!

Inclement looking weather, next morning, but drier than the day before and a ship going down the Lock gave me the impetus to get on the move to Market Harborough aka ‘Arborough.
And they left the gates open! 

Cptn was on Lock operation works to get us to Winkwell Swing Bridge. The swing bridge is a key operated traffic stopper and I thought Cptn would enjoy the experience. An Australian going the other way greeted us at the Lock and said the Bridge is busted and help is on the way. It was Saturday and after waiting 30 minutes I phoned C&RT emergency phone number who told me they knew about the bridge and someone was on the way. I asked when they will be arriving and I was told ½ an hour. I said that was what they told someone an hour ago! Anyway 15 mins later the bridge-men x 2 arrived and they got the bridge swinging. We gained another BW key left by an Australian. That’s a bonus.

Up, up and away. 7 locks later we moored in our ‘usual’ spot in ‘Berko’. Nice spot and we were waiting for a package of coloured vinyl contact sheets so we could get working on DB’s aesthetics. We rely on Poste Restante for mail deliveries. This delivery was not a smooth hassle free one and the post mistress had some words for us “Please let us know when you are having packages delivered to us. What is your phone number?”

As we were leaving Berko we found a windlass left at a Lock; a Slazenger tennis ball and bathroom tiles by the boat rubbish bins.

Near the Wendover Arm. Big arse wide beam..continuous cruiser!

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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.