28 March 2019

The Boat Team

by: Myron

It’s been a couple of weeks now since our last blog so what’s been happening.

Monday the 18th saw myself grabbing the skippers slot on Margaret.  Not that I did much except watch the crew demonstrate how to move a hopper breasted up.  We are finding better ways of tying the two units together with as little movement between them as possible.  The tighter the more manoeuvrable the whole thing is.  We also did some conventional end to end hopper pushing.  One result was that John Ferris got his’ Margaret with hoppers’ ticket.  Another fully trained crew member.

Wednesday the 18th was at first glance a very disappointing day in that a full day of activity on Weedie had to be cancelled due to the oil slick in that pound.  What was even more disappointing was that we had been due to give a demonstration to a group of schoolchildren.  I hope they catch the b******* who put that oil in the drain that caused this mess.  I also had my good friend Jerry with me on his first day as a volunteer.  So, being basically unemployed, I decided that we would have a walk round, more a walk along really. We started at Western Depot, where Reg kindly gave Jerry a good introduction to the workings of the yard. Next we stopped off at Wookey.  They were busy dragging huge bunches of reeds out of the canal just up from Upper Mills.  Next we saw Patricia trying to turn round so they could get a better angle on the upper wings of Ryeford locks.  They couldn’t quite do it so they were taking a few bites out of the bank and emptying into a hopper.  We then came across Margaret patiently waiting for the hopper.  While we were there the hopper was accepted and it was interesting to see the tug and hopper coming up the locks. Here Jerry joined the Margaret crew and soon made himself useful.  The dredgers had reported two large concrete obstructions just up from the lock gates.  They had probed the lateral dimensions quite accurately but had not got a real feel for the depth.  So Margaret trolled up and down with a crew member on a pole, checking the depth. For once it was quite good news. Although the obstruction is quite big and goes out to mid channel, at normal water levels it is about 1.1 metres below the surface, enough for it not to be a problem for our deepest drafted boat, Margaret.

Jerry probing the depths while Malcolm with clip board looks on, a budding manager

Last Monday I was once again unemployed, comes with having a great team of volunteers I suppose.  Walking down from Ryeford I spotted Aquila dodging up and down the cut, with Tony leading some outboard practice with a boat load of volunteers.  Good to see so many responding to this being organised.  I did manage to get some useful employment helping to clear behind the lower gates of Ryeford locks, the picture proves it.  Wookey came to visit us, cue for sarcastic banter both ways.  I guess that makes us one team now.

Myron doing some work for a change

Once the outboard experience was over, the crew returned to Margaret in time to go and do some tug stuff for the dredgers. Yet another volunteer was given his WRG 21c ticket. Congratulations to David Lovemore.  He is unique in that he is the first trainee to complete the entire syllabus in one go.  This was due to his patience and diligence, making sure he undersood and could do everything before he went for his ticket.

David Lovemore quietly celebrating his skippers ticket with Tony

Last Wednesday we had Margaret out training with hoppers.  Seems like we’ve found yet another way of moving them.  We’ve established  a useful way of breasting up, but now we’ve discovered another way to tie tug to hopper by using two springers.  This has the benefit of reducing the amount the two units move in relation to each other when say going from forward to stop.  I can’t wait to try it myself.

Springers used to breast up

I was busy with my new crane instructor hat on.  I had Maurice Miles for a 3 year refresher and John Sirett for an endorsement to his WRG 22.  I think it all went very well and needless to say they both passed with flying colours.  We now have 12 volunteers who have their crane ticket. This is across 3 different teams. That’s an achievement that I think we can be proud of.

Maurice and John undergoing crane training
John reaches for the sky

I hope you agree, we’ve not been idle.  Thanks to Iain Tweedie and Rob Wilson for the pictures.