Saturday, 28 April 2018


Example of winding

Yep we are sort of mostly back on the Cut but our times are a changing. We were overjoyed to find DB had worn well over the long cold winter as Cptn had not gone the full hog of winterising her. He thought the water tank had been emptied but I knew it was close to full. I remember him saying he had turned off the water tap so that no water could feed through to the pipe indoors. Really I should write down what, and its location aboard, that has to be done. Fortunately there was no sign of water where it shouldn’t be and no smell of gas. In fact the boat was water tight, smelt fresh and in fantastic order ready to go. The batteries had been trickle charged by solar power, yeah who needs full on sun! The engine started with the first turn of the key. What a boat!

Plastic fantastic naturally lights up life over the wheelhouse. It's great!!!!

Ashwood Marina kindly allowed us to plug into land power for our first and only night in the Marina. Best to be safe than sorry. The immersion tank will heat the water until the engine runs the calorifier, the fridge/freezer doing what a fridge/freezer does and we could enjoy lights indoors. DB’s batteries would be fully charged the next day. I think the biggest pull on energy is the Microwave and normally I start the engine when I use the we had scrambled eggs รก la microonda for dessayuno. I am a lingual mess but the scrambled eggs were yum.

We woke early morning with the sunlight greeting us. Yay we reversed out of Ashwood and kept going in reverse for a mile or so including 2 Locks along the Canal until we got to the winding hole that was fit for our size. There is a winding hole in the other direction but our ‘Nicholson’s’ canal book measured it as 60ft. Word had it that it would take 70ft but word was not definitive. (I have seen written proof since, that the winding hole below Hinksford Lock can accommodate 70ft Nb).

Navigator back on the job

DB is class at being reversed but was not happy with Bow thrusters’ battery overuse but she kept up with it and it was a relief, for me, when we winded to face in the right direction! Kinver was getting closer. I had my first steer (not of the venison variety) of the season. Yep it felt natural and I even got DB into the Stewponey Lock without faltering with the steering. I thought the Bow thrusters battery was flat but that was only because I didn’t switch them on!! Tee hee!!! I can do it!!

Kinver was our chosen destination for a few days as we had our own yearly health maintenance to undertake. We were not in a rush to move and appointments increased as expected. Dentist, Doctor, ...the NHS came up trumps for us. Then there were the Spectacle people for me. I’d left my prescription glasses in France. I’m OK without them except for night driving...too much ‘glitter’ distracts my vision. So I got new glasses and found out a couple of ophthalmology issues that will bug me in 60 years time.

We found time to do a few things and cruised away for a couple of days to Stourport-on-Severn. 
St Mary and All Saints Church

On the way we stopped, briefly, at Kidderminster where we met some students from the Music Academy. 

They tried to tune my recent purchase of a classical guitar from a Kinver charity shop. If you are reading this ‘Kidder peops’ I followed your advice and got Cptn to adjust the low E machine head and with a bit of WD40 the guitar is in action.

The Staffs and Worcs Canal is lovely and a pleasant scenic cruise. It is not busy but that will change over summer. There were plenty of visitor moorings vacant in Stourport. I was told about a mooring in the Widebeam Basin and we checked it out, a lovely location overlooking the River Severn. It would be perfect except for the nearby Fun Fair.

“How long does the Fair run for. Is it seasonal??” I asked someone nearby.
“Oh it has been going all my life.”
“Not that long then.” I answered in return.
“That’s kind.” She said.

I am Lady Lock-n-Lol. Sometimes a timely reminder to butt out is needed. I am knowledgeable at working the Locks. I was taking Della for an afternoon ablution walk and rain had been and was about to fall. There was a Nb coming up the Lock as I was passing it so I shared the joys of the world under the sky that threatened rain, a darker shade of grey. I offered to close the gate after the Nb moved out. Thanks were offered and I smiled in return. I got the gate moving and positioned myself to bum-push it. It’s the easiest method to close the gate. I hadn’t carried out a full risk-assessment and unfortunately the treads of my trainers do not give any hold with the wet bricks that the former BritishWaterways laid in an arc that many a trusty foot uses when working a Lock. These brick paved arcs are not at every Lock but be warned they are dangerous when they are wet!!!

Bricks don't bounce and nor do I!!!!!!!!!!!!

There I am, my bum in contact with this wooden gate, and I am in a seated standing position. My shoes lost any grip on the bricks and I slid down in slow centre of gravity meant I went down in unstoppable slow motion and landed heavily on my coccyx aka tailbone. Only Della saw this happen. Proof was in the nasty bruise, I glimpsed, the next day although I felt the pain right from the landing.
Where’s the Arnica Cream?
That was 9 days ago! It still hurts and is uncomfortable, ibuprofen helps and I will recover.

I must write to the Canals & Rivers Trust. There is work to be done. Remove the brick surface in the Gate ground arc. It is dangerous in wet weather. Perhaps a recycled surface that is non slip can be laid. Environmentally friendly, promoting safety and lowering risk of injury meeting the needs of the boating community and Jo Public on holiday.

Doer upper?


  1. Hi there, I'd love to see how you put your wheel house up and down and how it's made.
    WB Still Rockin'

    1. Hi Carol,

      I'll post some photos in my next blog. Chris took off the canopy we had over the wheelhouse and had a polycarbonate sheet cut to size and glued it to 5 wooden arches so it would sit comfortably inside the frame made by the wheelhouse windows. It takes 2 people to lift it on and off. My position is on the roof and Chris is on the standing on the deck. It is a positive move on from the canopy cover. Obviously, on the river, it will be perfect to keep in situ but on the canals, there are not enough friendly bridges!! Keep an eye out for my next Blog. Thanks for your comment.


  2. Thanks Sarah, will look out for the next instalment!


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.