Friday, 18 May 2018


Canopies concoction 

It must be close to 4 years that we had a canopy to cover the wheelhouse and cover the stern. The wheelhouse canopy was put in situ most days. I remember the first time we put up both frames and covers. It was difficult to feel the joy while the task was being carried out but since the first time it got easier to assemble but still took quality time. Now the wheelhouse canopy became worse for wear and it appears to have shrunk making it difficult to clip one side into place.  

Cptn had given a lot of thought about what could be done to improve the cover over the wheelhouse and, last year, he said he wanted to change the canopy and make a roof that would fit over the wheelhouse. ‘Yeah right whatever’ I thought. I wasn’t full of enthusiasm as I imagined it would involve heavy and awkward lifting. Once upon a time, I had a different attitude to change but the 21st century has arrived in my playing field along with ageing white matter taking a hammering.

Still, this material change is amazing and Cptn has designed a perfect cover a.k.a ‘roof’ for the wheelhouse. It is easy to put together and fits perfectly in place. There is no awkward or weighty lift involved. I’ll try and show the process with photos. I could drone on but.....

The 'roof' rests on the roof in front of the front wheelhouse window
The other 4 wheelhouse windows are secured in place.  I have climbed onto the steel roof to lift the front of the polycarbonate roof and Cptn has climbed on the steel roof above the wheel. He places the boat pole to lay in a horizontal position, and he lifts the back of the polycarbonate roof and places it on top of the boat pole that acts as a 'roller'. This makes it easy for me to slide the 'roof' along the length of the windows. 'Team work' means the roof slides into position.

The Boat pole waits to get removed.
The stern canopy fits into the total equation!!

Natural daylight pours indoors.


  1. Thanks for that Sarah, a really good idea. The only problem for us would be that the polycarbonate roof would cover our solar panels. George asks where you managed to get the poly and especially how you got it to the shape you needed. Regards Carol.


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.