Tuesday, 16 October 2018


Tunnelling through the  2,726 yards Wast Hills Tunnel.
It was essential to get DB out of the Cut for assessment and action to be taken with the damaged propeller, prop’ as it is colloquially called. I am not skilled at conversations about a boat engine (I know DB’s engine is yellow and called Vetus), rudders (I know the rudder gives the directional movement) and prop’ (there would be no movement if the prop’ wasn’t propelling the water). To avoid discussion about engines I am better to twitch my nose, vanish and appear in the kitchen galley. Cup of tea?

Tardebigge Locks

So back to the Cut, it was necessary to get to the Tardebigge Flight asap as Cptn had booked us into Droitwich Marina. The Tardebigge Flight is a run of 30 narrow locks, the longest run of locks in the UK covering 2 1/4 miles inviting new meaning to the word Tardebigge. I ended up calling it the Tarde-bugger as there were a lorra Locks to negotiate and we needed muscle and time to get comfortably to Droitwich Marina.


11' below

We invited a couple of friends to join our team and ‘enjoy’, of course, the open air workout on the cut! It was no secret that this was going to be a tough 3 hours but the weather forecast was excellent and a memory would be created. It turned out to be an excellent day and apart from Scott and Jen walking the 2ish miles up the towpath to meet DB and made to start ‘locking’ immediately, we all got ‘Lock-n-Lol-ling’. 

Team at work!

A tough job was made easy, Cptn and I could share the helming and advance Lock prep while Scott and Jen , were tooled with windlasses to raise and lower the paddles to let DB down each Lock not forgetting to open/close the gates to let DB out!

Lock 30

There were a couple of C&RT volunteers helping out but they avoided us as holidaymakers were their priority, rightly so. The Tardebugger flight was not busy, it was well worth the exercise under sunny skies, the vista was gorgeous and there were damsons, plums and sloe berries ripe for the picking. I collected a bag of windfall plums, nature’s freebies are irresistible.


I like the Worcester Birmingham Canal, it is scenic and very quiet with boat traffic. There are a few tunnels and I’m not that keen on tunnels but they are not the end of the world. 

An easy short run to Hanwell Junction where we met the Droitwich Canal and immediately went down the 3 Locks ‘manned’ by 2 happy Volunteers. We were excited with destination Droitwich Marina in view and soon we were warmly welcomed. They unexpectedly put us on an overnight berth, we plugged DB into electricity and we made use of the service facilities. A shower with continuous running warm water, sheer luxury.  And there was even a bath in one of the shower rooms. A soak in the bath was a healing tonic in the following days after the long slog of prepping and blacking the hull and painting the gunwhales.

Hold tight as DB Getting is being caressed by the trailer

After a night berthed in the marina, DB was towed onto dry land. She was snugly placed on a long trailer with hydraulic attachments that kept her level as she was pulled out of the water and towed to dry-standing where she rested high on thick wooden planks. 

We had to use a ladder to get on board and our ever-trusting Della let us carry her on/off DB. Such an adorable dog is our Della.

Black the hull with bitumen and paint the gunwhales. Looks good!

Our primary importance  getting DB out of the water was to get the prop ‘banged’ back into shape or replaced. The latter meant big money and we were so fortunate to have the services of the affable and able who had Engineer the right tools managed to bang the existing prop in situ back into shape. Great job.

Bendy prop'. 

Back in shape!

Cptn was highly motivated, working hard to get the job done and dusted. To stay calm, cool and collected he became a bath-a-day man. 

We had a week on dry-dock and we could have had longer if we needed it but that would have meant  time means more money! So we got the job done.

Nick, the owner / manager of Droitwich Marina as well as the tractor driver skilled in boat placing was so helpful and accommodating to our urgent need of getting DB out of water and letting Cptn use the jet cleaner to clean the hull and allowing us to stay on board with electricity while we blacked DB. Of course it didn’t come for free but it was affordable and we would highly recommend Droitwich Marina for its empathetic and ‘can do’ approach to boaters.

I did walk the canal walk from Droitwich Marina to Droitwich Spa. Nice 30 min walk. I walked past a few locks but there is no towpath through the M5 Bridge- tunnel. It is not possible for DB to go under the M5 Bridge-tunnel unless we removed the solar panels on her roof and probably would need to use a periscope when helming to avoid a brain injury. Picture that! Actually, forget the periscope and put in remote steering from inside DB.

It was good to be on the cruise, again, and DB felt tickety-boo with her prop’ restored to A++ condition. What lies beneath water sometimes bites, that is the mystery of tea coloured waters. Please don’t throw rubbish in the water! We were unlucky but the prop’adventure ended on a positive note.

We returned to the Worcester & Birmingham Canal and moved down a few more locks cruising the few miles to Worcester and left the Worcs & Birmingham Canal at the Diglis Locks to get on to the beautiful River Severn with a short 3 hour cruise to Stourport on Severn and on to the Staffs & Worcs Canal.

Worcester Cathedral

We feel like we have arrived on our home territory and were only a day away from Kinver where we will eventually be land-based in the ‘Black Country’.

R. Severn

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.