by: Dave I.
Monday was busy! Both Goliath and Delilah were out, being refuelled (thank you, WD!), then carrying on along the cut. Goliath made it through Ryeford to Upper Mills, and then returned – even if there's no work to do, travel by a deep drafted vessel like the tugs makes a big contribution to keeping the channel clear. Margaret met the dredgers and helped move full hoppers, so they can keep dredging.
While that was happening, Dave & Myron met Alan at WD to measure the crane we'll be fitting to Delilah. (We suspect we'll be saying a lot of 'thank you's to Alan as this project progresses!) It's rather intimidating, a large and heavy thing hanging in the gantry crane waiting for us to do something with it. Anyway, the key dimensions were duly measured, so we know how high it will be, so we can make sure it will pass under all our bridges (even Upper Mills); and we know wide it is, so we know how big a hole to cut in Delilah (gulp!); and we know the mounting points, so we know where we need to put the matching locations in Delilah. Easy!
Then we went to see Delilah, to see what those dimensions looked like on the boat itself. Comparing what we plan to do, with what has already been done in Samson was very helpful. So now we have some drawings, the next steps will be to mark out and start cutting. We'll soon be needing to draw on the help offered by volunteers interested in helping do the actual work.
Tuesday we went training and trialling in Goliath. Training someone new takes a fair few trips, and we try to include as much experience as we can. This time we went to Ryeford and said hello to the dredging team: Patricia seemed to be doing a great job.
We picked up an empty hopper, attached to it for push-towing, and soon Steve was driving a combined 95 ft vessel for the first time. He seemed pleased! We took it to Ebley, where we turned round (not the hopper, it's too long!). For the return, we decided there was enough width to trial pushing breasted-up. The additional bollards fitted to the hopper a while ago are essential for this, as a firm and secure attachment is needed fore and aft on the tug. This attachment was achieved, and off we went.
It worked very well 😊. We'll be doing more trials of this and then hopefully roll it out across the team.
On our return, Patricia had filled a whole hopper, so we were pleased to move that along and across the cut for emptying later.
And finally, if anyone was wondering why the tug spent a while going round and round in circles, it was all part of normal training for manoeuvring at close quarters - finding out how to turn even in narrow bits of canal, doing it without hitting the banks, and getting the confidence that it can all be done with the engine just at idle.