26 April 2018

We Say Goodbye and You Say Hello

by: Buffs

We were welcomed to the yard by a fanfare from a mistle thrush high in the treetops above Western Depot. The day was full of early promise and anticipation. The bright sunshine belied the promise of showers later.  Today’s primary task was to rename our two Western Depot produced workboats with their formal titles.  So it was fingers crossed for good weather until lunchtime.

The producer of the extravaganza was Chris from Standeasy Productions (Motto: every expense spared).  Chris had worked tirelessly for at least 20 minutes on the design for today’s show.  The location was chosen from a list of two both of which carried the opportunity for dunking the official guests thereby enhancing the fee by sending the resultant video clip to You’ve Been Framed. The eventual choice was Blunder lock which offered a bigger splash and more photogenic surroundings.

The name boards for the boats were ordered through Rickenbacker from Wrangler designs.  They came in bigger than was practical for boats with just one foot (30cm) of freeboard.  I think he is still smarting from being admonished by his first boss.

Seizing on the opportunity the boards were handed over to David in the chippy shop who made two goal-post stands to lift them to eye level, one for each boat.  Thank you, David.

The production team then set about assembling the means of revealing the names to the world.  The ribbon cut by the Prince of Wales has been locked in a secure vault along with the Blessed Scissors and were not available for recycling.  So, off the back of the Standeasy Store, also known as Chris’s garage, where an extending curtain rail was seized upon and then wrestled to the work bench where it was rent asunder to make two rails, one for each board.  With Maurice’s help, the complex engineering required to ensure that the curtains would open correctly was completed (after getting it wrong the first time).

And so, to the big day.  Ratty and Mole were brought to Blunder Lock by John and Jill who had lavished much care - and paint - on both boats.  A small team brought the name boards and set them up in the boats.  The boats were then dressed overall with the one CCT pendant per boat that the budget allowed (borrowed ed.).  Supporting actors were inspected and found sartorially and wardrobe were asked to bring forward clean costumes.  Don’t actors understand the cost of clean Hi Vis?

With the cast briefed and a dress rehearsal lasting at least 30 seconds successfully completed Ratty and Mole were ready to receive the Official Guests. What they got was a light shower of rain.  While the Production team cowered under a tree Western Depot was scoured to find an audience.  Reg led the assembled throng to Blunder.  The Official Guests arrived and were introduced to their host and MC, CCT Vice Chairman John Newton.  There followed instructions to the ladies on what their role was and introductions to their guides.  Our cleanest of Lifejackets were fitted.

With a fanfare from the BT compressor working nearby John called the gathering to order.  There followed two addresses from Myron and Tony.  Both are known for their brevity.  Myron offered praise and thanks to Tony for his generous donation and personal support.  Tony responded with thanks to Western Depot for converting his dream to the floating reality before us.  He then, in an emotional moment for him and his assembled family, explained the reasoning for the names he had chosen for the boats.

Then came the great reveal.  John and Jill led the naming party onto the boats.  With John and Jill discreetly holding the curtains against the rising wind and backed by the silent crescendo of the attending Loyal Machines band Tony coached his wife and daughter in the correct invocation for the naming of a vessel as Mole gave up her yard name and became Jasper and Ratty gave way to Stuart. 

With honour duly done the Official party, as they always do on these solemn occasions, repaired to the home of a local volunteer to be served tea and sticky buns whilst the cast and crew were left to clear up.

Stuart will return to Western Depot to have the fittings for her cover made and Jasper will join the active flotilla of CCT boats.

And with judicious timing as the Official party crossed the threshold for their Refreshments the heavens opened on Chris, John, Jill, Andy and Les. Not just rain but hail too.

The event would not have been possible without the commitment of the team at Western Depot who helped in the building and finishing of the boats. We were blessed when a former active volunteer reactivated because of a change in his work pattern.  Damon is a coded welder and made light work of the welding together of the hull sections and all the internal supporting framework.  His skill, accuracy and speed impressed us all.  With his help, the construction phase for each boat passed very quickly.   To him and to all in WD who helped in setting out, levelling, moving, painting and fitting out goes a hearty thank you.

Jasper lying alongside with her new cover fitted