Tuesday, 19 June 2018


Grrr... Last century we were raised with the believed benefits of learning ‘Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic’. 2 out of 3 weren’t bad for me and I could manage mental arithmetic but then mathematics became the buzzword and I was left behind with most of that! I think I have mild maths dyslexia and I fail to count how it has held me back.

Now I have been pondering over what I envisage to be the 3x R’s of the 21stCentury. I am writing examples using my lifestyle as a Narrowboater, in mind. Here goes remembering there can always be two ways (positive and negative) to look at things unless you are opinion struck-out ‘on the fence’
Wide-Beam country looms


Lock          - check the canal for oncoming boats. It’s a fine balance if the Lock is half full or half empty. If it’s you, carrying the windlass -on -foot, who got there first it’s yours. If the other party meet you at the Lock then talk about it at the Lock. It happened to me at one of the Locks near Stoke Bruerne. We were coming down the Lock ahead and a holiday boater moved out of the Lock below and I tried to signal and yell we were going to be at that Lock so LEAVE THE GATE OPEN. They still were not aware of us so I marched down, quickly, to reopen the gate and race back to DB to get her out of the other Lock. In those few moments, another boater shut the gate I had reopened and was winding the paddles to empty the Lock. I yelled out, I cannot write the words I was thinking and I felt no helpful kindness towards him. He got his boat into that Lock and I turned my back totally ignoring him. He was acting strangely pacing the perimeter above the Lock wall while it was filling with his boat in it.
Cptn was Locking, the other day, and he started to fill 'our' Lock after a Nb had left it. He had checked all was clear and assumed the boat moored, below, at the Lock had no active person on board as no intent had been shown they were taking the Lock. Suddenly a person with a windlass appeared and negotiated with Cptn that they were coming up the Lock. OK fair enough it was in their favour. So, paddles down our end and Cptn left them to get on with it. Best way to keep chilled. As the boat was rising in the Lock, I went and found out a bit about them. A team of actors having lunch and cruising to their next location. 

Mooring   - Be considerate when mooring in popular locations particularly where there are rings. We love being able to have solid ground rings in situ to tie DB onto if we are staying for a day or two, and there is usually a sign-posted restricted time limit. We do notice it appears to be popular to leave a gap between boats rather than moor up close and share a ring. Hey, we are 68ft and we can fit if you think to fill the gap rather than mind the gap. Respect!

Tic             - Imagine walking pace. In London, walking pace is a running walk. Those London Narrowboaters sure move faster than Narrowboats doing ‘tic’ out of London. I think it describes the big city speed of life? Whatever, here's a rope hint... triangulate the stern end ropes. Anyway moving at tic passing moored boats on the canal, outside Londonium, is respect.


Shut the gates- unless you are on the River Wey. Some Lock Gates on the Canal take superhuman strength to close them and I verge on being irresponsible if I can’t shut them. I could make it easier if I did a ‘paddle technique’ to get the water to help pull the gate in. Some gates shut easily but will swing open again. Again water can help and you need to take out levelling the water. I put it down to not worth the exercise to do this. As far as the canal code goes I could be seen as irresponsible but I have thought about it. I am not lazy! 
Wind the paddles down, i.e close the sluice - Read the signs on the gate where it will tell you to leave the gate paddles raised when you leave the Lock.

Tie ropes securely – Within 2 days of cruising down the Grand Union we passed 2 non secured boats, they were attached to their moorings with one rope meaning both were ‘swinging-out’. The first was a Nb in Berkhamstead and I blasted my horn in case the ‘Insiders’ were still asleep. I think they had probably gone to work. But to assume makes an ass out of you and me, n’est-ce pas? The second boat was a ‘Broad-beam’, a little way on from Denham Deep Lock and I was pissed off to see this grey monster lurching into the cut. Again, I blasted DB’s ‘car’ horn but as I cruised past it, at London tic speed,  I could see there was no life on board and the boat was in the early stages of being fitted out. How do people get away with this behaviour? Grrr. Chill Sarah chill.

Winding Holes- With all the mooring spaces on the Cut there is no need to moor on a winding hole. The winding holes are clearly sign-posted and little or large do not need to eat into the space. Some boats are longer than others and all need space to turn. Do not tempt an out of control steel kiss! Steel won’t hurt steel but your paint job might get marked. If you are ‘plastic’ .... I saw a fat Wide-beam in a fitting out stage abandoned moored on a winding hole. The nice C&RT license checker person was cycling past and said a letter had been left on that boat. I don’t know what power the letter has but I guess C&RT will have logged that boat on record. C&RT seem like nice people but have little power in managing responsible ownership. Chill Sarah chill.

Canal town

3.       RECYCLING
'Treasure from the Canal?'

I am proud to be a tidy Kiwi. TV always said we were tidy Kiwis! I am happy to endeavour (nothing to do with Cptn Cook) to be tidy with my rubbish. There is always a heap of poubelle, basura, lixo  yes just unwanted rubbish packaging that fills all our lives now. We all have to deal with it. On the Cut the C&RT provide Biffa Bins at sign-posted areas which are marked on Canal maps or if they have been relocated it is marked along the way. You can be 98% confident of Biffa Bins at Sanitary Stations. The bins are usually 3-fold i.e Glass; Recycling (Plastic, Cardboard/Paper, and Metal); General waste. It’s easy but that doesn’t stop laziness or lack of care. I know I am not perfect, no-one is but we on DB do try to sort out our rubbish ready for disposal to be dropped off as we pass our Canal rubbish stations. Thank you C&RT for making these stations available for us.

Oh so just dump the rubbish?

Well I've had my last ramble being in the F-age. Tomorrow I meet the S- age. I see it as a wise beginning.

Of course life is about being under constant change. Nothing stays the same forever and as much as I am more of a stick in the mud, I need to open my eyes and be happy that future is always on the cards and others, still a ‘sparkle’ destined to be, will live into it and beyond!

Here's a funny incident that happened to me in Berkhamstead. I was calling out Hello to a Fisherman on the other side of the Cut. We got talking and he stopped concentrating on his line. Next thing his fishing rod flew out of his hands into the Canal and seemed to be floating towards my side and DB. Yikes, I got the extendable boat pole but it didn't reach the rod. Rod moves along the length of DB and eventually I managed to 'hook' it with a long bendy plastic tube. I grabbed the rod with my hands and pulled it out of the water. Only to find I had 'caught' a fish. Well there was a fish at the end of the line. Mr Angler was happy he had got his rod back and I was happy to see the fish released after it must have had the swim of its life taking the rod for a swim.

DB was this side and the Angler was on the opposite side.


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.