Saturday, 15 October 2016


The Lidl mooring between Leamington Spa and Warwick is fab, an ideal location to said store and nearby business park, supermarkets and train station. We thought this is a mooring we would overstay and the day we were marked by the C&RT enforcement inspector gave us a definite legal limit on our mooring. He said 5 days and he would be back in a week’s time. Cool bananas! My opinion is that it may have been 48hr mooring but without signage, it must be 14-day mooring. I think we maxed on 12-day mooring!! Shhhh..... Cpt had to use the wonders of his Bus Pass to collect the ‘Red Car’ to get it serviced and MOT’d. Plus he had to take the train to London for the tooth fairy to give him a new tooth. Car and tooth were successfully done and the green light is shining for the continental run next month. Our car is amazing; it started up the first turn of the key and passed its MOT first check. (Did you know in NZ that a car’s WOF has to be done twice yearly?)
Big Yellow Bus....our first final farewell leaving Europe trip 2004

Pimpmobile- Molesworth NZ

Little car,Van-Rouge and the Pimpmobile  - Tauranga NZ

Over the years we have been owners of vans and cars and they have generally had a name, maybe it is a ‘bogan’ idea but we knew what car we were referring to without writing words on number plates! There was the ‘plucky’ Renault 4, the ‘long’ car (Peugeot GRD 505) Blue and Dolcie each had their own length of passenger seats, the ‘Pimpmobile’, the ‘Van Rouge’ (VW Transporter), and ‘Jap Jag’ (Mitsubishi Diamante) to name a few. Our present car we call the ‘Red Car’ (Vauxhall Astra) and it is clocking up the miles. In NZ cars from Japan are popular and affordable, European cars are pricier and cars generally have high mileage (in kilometres). In the UK cars appear to be late-model and affordable. I do take interest in the age of cars; I can identify that by the number plate! The make is not even close to the tip of my tongue but I do recognise colours!!


Back to DB... staying on the water. We have kept busy with DB’s aesthetic exterior coloured pattern installation and enjoyed the positive comments she receives.
“Never seen anything like that before on a boat. Love it” said a gongoozler.
 “It is ‘Random’ like our life on the water,” I reply.
The day we started to continue our move up the GU Canal Mainline, I did the last minute heavy stuff shop at Lidl thinking that a small Lidl trolley would make an easy transfer of goods onto DB. I was not aware that trolleys now have an anti-vandal lock if they are moved out of their comfort zone! I soon found this out and had to haul the trolley along on one castor to get it to DB!! Had to haul the empty trolley back to Lidl and ask a ‘friendly’ to unlock it so I could get my £1 coin freed from the slot. I told him I was a ‘Trolley Dolly’ and made the appropriate gestures. He laughed, I laughed and I got my £1 back.
Cpt had been to have his spine tweaked and as soon as he was home we untied the ropes and were set free, smiling with being on the move. I insisted on helming, I’ve got the feel of the wheel now and my steering is close to accurate. Cpt reminded me there was a sharp bend after we pass the Tesco mooring so I blast my horn and seconds later the nose of a Nb moves into sight. I move DB to starboard canal-side and no ‘Westie’ occurred. They hadn’t heard my horn and they hadn’t sounded their one. What’s the point?
Cape of Good Hope

We spent the night moored outside the Cape of Good Hope Pub, Kiwi owned and managed. We ate their good food but didn’t stay for the Quiz night. I think with our limited knowledge of sport, current music, movies and tv our chances of even marking the board are restricted and we’d feel dumb and dumber. I did see that movie at least 20 years ago!
Going up the Hatton before the incident.....

Up bright and early in the morning, Cpt side-moved DB to the water point and while filling her almost empty tank the clear sky clouded over to give us a gloomy start to our climb up the 21 Hatton Locks. We’ve done these Locks a few times and this time, we could alternate jobs as Lockie and Helmie every 5 Locks. It all started very well until 4 Locks in, a Lock gate caught the stern rail on the starboard side and DB lurched.
Yikes, I squealed “This is not good. Why is this happening?” The rail had bent but was still intact.
At the next Lock, Cpt had noticed that when the Lock was full the open Lock Gate doesn’t keep flush with the Lock wall and needed to be positioned so it wouldn’t grab the stern rail. The fabrication of the rail by Colecraft is not right; it should have been better positioned to avoid this contact! We used to have looped braided fenders hanging on the hull sides but they were recently removed for repair as they kept getting pulled from their position. We were opening only one gate, that is how we Nb’s do the wide locks.
Moving up Locks we now had a method to avoid damage. We were happy that a Volunteer started to help us and Cpt had instructed him the method we needed to use for leaving the Lock. When I got back on the Helm, I forgot to remind the Volunteer to correct the Gate position and DB got caught again! Steel groans and a lurch as the rail got grabbed and barely stayed intact. The rail was now busted and bent horizontally over the water and I knew I couldn’t get into the next Lock through one gate. I gave a few blasts on the horn to try and get Cpt’s attention and soon I was slowly cruising into the Lock. Too late, the stone wall before the Lock Gate got DB’s damaged stern rail, amputated it and it slid down into the water. Not even a splash!
Oops Yikes Damn Bugger Blast

I was agape, shocked at what had happened and you have to imagine the words that passed my lips! What an event I wish had never happened. Well, it was a clean break and not a happy situation to be in but it had happened. I don’t handle this situation well thankfully my partner does! Mind the gap!! DB is made of steel and a new rail with a bit of surgery from the Welder followed by a lick of paint should return her into aesthetic shape.

We don’t have to stop cruising. No stern canopy to erect for the rest of our voyage. We got to the top of the flight, and after refreshment at the nearby Cafe we moved on to Rowington with me at the Helm. We had to follow a holiday boat that was moving slower than ‘tic’ which does cause difficulty with steering DB. They made no move to let us pass them and I was tempted to irritate them but I held off and they gestured to us on DB to pass them as they left the Shrewley Tunnel. I saw them the next day and they said I should have indicated I wanted to pass them. Here’s a thought, if you are aware you are going slower than slow and a boat is on your tail surely you would just move out of the way to let the boat go past!
Don't cry no tears, rail will be fixed next year!

Finally, we were on the Rowington Ridge. Our favoured mooring spot was taken by 3 boats but there was plenty of room ahead. The water was a bit shallow as I found out the next morning when I was moving DB solo-handed with Della to Lapworth. A push off the bank, with my big foot, and a bit of reverse throttle got me central on the Canal. Cpt had taken the bus to Leamington to get our ‘Red’ car and we had agreed that I would get DB to Lapworth.

For me, that was an achievement to be on my own by myself without fear of failure! I felt I was the bee's knees when I tied up just after Kingswood Junction.

GU Canal -Mainline    Kingswood Junction

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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.