Dredging Monday -Rain, rain, rain.
By: Andrew R.
As a Team of 3 we arrived at Ryeford Upper and after investigating the possible points we could turn Patricia by using a very long rope with two knots in representing the length of Patricia. We discovered only where Perseverance was moored was the only place in the pound we could turn.
So we trekked back to Ryeford and started Patricia up after safety checks. By this time a tug team arrived.
We manoeuvred steadily backwards which was a new experience for one of the dredging crew over such a distance.
Then with Margaret following behind with a hopper at a distance, we steadily made our way to Wiggles Yard. On the way we did continuous depth checking and clearly the river section was silted up more since a year and half ago when No 5 came through last. We were surfing the silt which slowed us down considerably.
We set up just before Dudbridge road bridge next to the tow path and Margaret pushed the hopper up next to us. A new technique was developed because the basin was a extended concrete platform.
Straight away we were finding the remnants of the flood that washed the wall and towpath away in recent past on Dec 30th. Shale, bricks, chunks of stone, large coping stones, reed bar and of course silt.
Tuesday - Rain
The morning was slow as the gas bottle ran out before the kettle boiled and we had to find a local supplier. The problem solved we made progress.
This was training day for a more accomplished trainee. This was a new challenge as mentioned above, needing new skills. We now began to find other interesting things cloth, builder sacks, more reinforcing bars, the shale was more evident but the rocks were slowing us down as clam shell couldn’t shut. Progress was steady. Stability was a slight issue as we could not lock the latch on the jib as the road bridge was to low. As the jib and dipper were slightly extended the was a tendency for Patricia to roll when moving forward and the importance of having the feet outward facing was more important. The problem was the silt was too high touching the hull and therefore very difficult to rotate the feet.
This was good experience for the trainee as he saw how the vessel reacted. Another reason why training takes time as a wide experience is needed so prepared for eventualities. The hopper was nearly full and long 5 inch water pipe fo pump found with hessian bag on end, more stuff left behind by team who restored the lock.
Boat Manager paid a visit and discussions were held whilst newly qualified operator of Patricia set up and practiced new skills (as above).
More interesting materials and objects found. 4 x 1ton builders bags still partly filled.
Margaret came and took a hopper away and Wookey appeared.
With no hopper we were ask to find the large steel sign post that was knocked down that warns of a 2 metre ledge on the offside.
Started to hunt and found a massive coping stone. Repositioned and then found the sign. Hadn’t travelled far as so heavy. After careful repositioning we managed to get the sign onto the tow path.
Still no hopper after 1 1/2 wait so explored nearer the lock gates. There’s a very large quantity of material to remove.
A hopper arrived back at 2:30 so the new operator worked continuously for 1 1/2 to get as much into the hopper as possible. A lot more to go.....
We really now need to ensure hoppers are emptied and returned ASAP so continuous dredging can happen on work days.
As Patricia takes on lots of water we now wrap her up in known bad weather and when near trees because the debris or bird muck goes down into bilges through big spud leg holes either side of cabin.