Thursday, 30 August 2018


Paddy's Basin

They stare, You steer, I store... or is that 'eye sore'! Intense wordplay to get where I am today.

'Rap' on the Roof

Oh well, we’ve been there, done things and seen stuff.  Always looking back it seems like a long time but with life's momentum cruising DB time has flown and I can make it literally go faster.

We played the London Game mooring in Merchant Square Paddington Basin. Well honestly we had a valid reason to overstay and C&RT never responded to Captain’s email about his major health issue. If he had given birth he would have been given 6 weeks paternity grace to settle the sprog into life as a continuous cruiser.

A swirl of Duckweed.

There was a major incident one night, I was asleep and heard nothing when a feline miaow risked one of its 9 lives with an uninvited visit on DB entering through the open side hatch. It was a summer’s night and there was no point us baking in a hot tin can! The report was “Cat aboard, Dog immediately on alert to the intruder, Cat took flight up the curtain knocking over my beautiful paua encrusted globe.” No injuries but an irreparable loved damaged good. Next day the cat owner said her cat doesn’t like dogs and we should have our side hatches closed or have shutters to go over our side hatches.... Cptn’s response was “Cat shouldn’t be locked out of its boat and should be kept on board its boat.”

Beautiful paua ball shattered by 'cat-nip'.

A couple of days later a big wind blew and we got rattled. Cptn got up in the morning, like most people do, and went outdoors into the Wheelhouse and looked up to notice with a clear vision that the miraculous polycarbonate plastic roof had disappeared! Oops had it floated away? No, we had clipped it onto the stern canopy and the roof had flipped over and rested, still attached, on top of the stern canopy. ‘There’s a hole in my roof...’ Cptn Fixit got on with the job, see later Blog for new roof.

Nature's incident gave unwanted ventilation.

Anyway, to sever a long story we served our London time dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s with a satisfactory ending and cruising off into the watery sunset.
Thelma and Della. 

Well, I totally lost the cruise elation after Regents Park. 

It has been 4 years since we had been on these waters and they were grim.

Camden Lock

I didn’t recognise Camden Locks. There were the Locks but no volunteers to help lend a helping hand, just a single-handed boater who shared the Lock. Actually, he was very considerate and worked his windlass at the Lock rather than stay on his boat. There is a lot of construction underway at the large building site beside the Canal and it wasn’t pretty. I suppose it is the story of life, ‘Nothing stays the same’.

Camden Lock

Outside at the pub, locked metal gates keep the gongoozlers out, I mean at a safe distance. But there was a ‘random’ inside the gates by the Lock asking for a key so she could be let out. We did consider letting her spend her holidays there!

Soon we were through the 3 Locks and glimpsed Battlebridge Basin, where I had tried but failed to get a summer mooring. I remember being so disappointed that the almost promised pricey mooring didn’t turn out, and now passing BB I was so thankful that we hadn’t spent a penny on our summer mooring.
Interesting Gasholder. Regeneration, create rather than destroy. Home sweet home?

Granary Square came into view and it was a different picture to 4 years prior. Many boats moored around there.  Does it get better? I don’t think so. Once through the Islington Tunnel we passed lines of boats double-breasting. Get me gone; this is not the canal life for me.

Hmmm no thanks.

It’s London Canal life where boats are an affordable option to live in the centre of this highly populated city. The canal boats became less to nonexistent once we passed the Hertford Navigation that leads to the R. Lee.

Canary Wharf

In the distance I see Canary Wharf, it looks stunted now, after its unique stand in the 90’s. Docklands still holds a bit of excitement in my distant memory. I remember good times in the East End, Royal London Borough of Tower Hamlets. We got to the Lock gates to Canary Wharf I couldn’t get them to open. Gongoozler help needed! Thanks to the veiled lady for her kind support. Yay, last Lock before the Thames Lock.

And so endeth the Regents Canal and begins the excitement to get on the Tidal Thames. 

I’d booked to leave, late afternoon, the next day with friends that is a Sunday. Nearly all aboard and the Lockie had switched on the green light for us to enter the Lock. Cptn was meeting a late arrival friend at the DLR station and I started to panic. Lockie gave us a long 2 minutes and all were aboard, the wind was blowing and my excitement was lost. Hindsight, could be the replacement word for ‘If only’.

Nb DolcieBlue waits. Can you see her?

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.