Thursday, 14 September 2017

Songs For Shamrock Night

Despite the best efforts of the changeable weather, Sunday nights 'Songs for Shamrock' went ahead and proved to be a great success thanks to the ‘Polperro Fishermen's Choir’ and ‘Mike & Tilly Music’ for the interval music. Shamrock was dressed ready to be used as the stage for the singers but, due to the heavy showers, the venue was moved to Shamrock's boat shed. The estimated attendance of 100 plus managed to squeeze into the shed and the evening raised over £1,400 towards Shamrock's upkeep. A heartfelt “Thank you” to everyone who attended.

Abandoned stage
Standing room only.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

It's Been A Quiet Week!

Mud cleared and slipway track laying completed.
Shamrock's cradle tested. Champagne corks popped. 

Monday, 4 September 2017

Proposed Haul Out Day

After consulting the tide time tables the spring tide of Friday 6th October has been pencilled in as Shamrock's haul out day. This will allow time for the slipway track to be completed with the last two sections needing to be cut to their respective sizes and laid. Once completed Shamrock's cradle can be moved to the bottom of the slipway track to check it rolls freely and gauge the minimum tide height required to float Shamrock onto the cradle. The amount of silt that the river Tamar deposits on the slipway also means that it will need to be cleaned at least twice more before haul out day, once before laying the final sections of track and the day before haul out. Both of Shamrock's masts are also scheduled to be lowered and removed before the move.

From no mud to this in six days.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Shamrock's Cradle

While the crew has been waiting for the tide to be right to finish laying the slipway track, the time has been used to collect the various sections of Shamrock's cradle from Cotehele Quay boat yard and place them at the top of the slipway track. Next came the Chinese puzzle of assembling the cradle and it was discovered that the weld numbers on the various sections are not in order, but assembly was achieved successfully. The cradles old base timbers, which where rotten, have been renewed, levelled off and finally topped off with old railway sleepers on which Shamrock will sit when she is hauled out. So much for August being a quiet month!

Cradle sections arrive.

Cradle assembled.

Re timbered and ready for Shamrock


Saturday, 5 August 2017

Track Laying

No sooner had the job of clearing Shamrock's slipway of accumulated mud had been completed, than a lorry appeared with some second hand “rail chairs”, “fishplates”, “steel clips” and “rails” ready for laying. The clips should hold the rails more securely than the wooden wedges used on the old track. A few tricks on how to make the job of fitting of the remaining tracks where picked up during laying of the two topmost sections of the track. Shaune was heard muttering something about being a boat-builder not a railway navvy!




Two down four to go.
The new door fitted between the after cabin and the cargo hold has had a latch made and fitted that is more in keeping with Shamrock's existing door latches.


Space is getting a bit tight in the boat shed!


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Repair Preparations

Preparations for Shamrock's forthcoming repairs and engine fitting have started with the replacement of two missing planks from the bulkhead (dividing wall) between the after cabin, which is due to become the engine room and her cargo hold. As the engine room will need to be secured the bulkhead access hatch has had a door fitted and this will also serve as an escape hatch. Vent holes will need to be drilled in the bulkhead to assist in the airflow through Shamrock.

Cargo hold bulkhead before
and after.
Removing her anchor and chain was made a lot easer than normal by taking advantage of a mid morning high tide and floating Shamrock to the head of her dock allowing the anchor to be dropped onto the dock and the chain flaked almost straight into the cart. Although once loaded the cart was not exactly easy to move!


Monday, 26 June 2017

Evolving Mainsheet

After her restoration Shamrock's running rigging mainsheet consisted of 4 cm (1.5 in) manila rope with a 23 cm (9 in) double block and a 23 cm (9 in) single block with becket and a bulls-eye.

Original layout.
During the 1980s’ this was changed to two 23 cm (9 in) triple blocks, one with a becket and the bulls-eye resulting in more rope being required and such a complicated layout that the crew would have to use a model of the blocks to assist in the mainsheet reeving procedure. When not in use long bights of mainsheet rope were draped over the mizzen sail cover.

Shamrock rigged with triple blocks.
Model triple block.
As the manila running rigging ropes are in the process of being replaced with Polyhemp, the opportunity is being taken to simplify the mainsheet by using only two 23 cm (9 in) double blocks, one with a becket and no bulls-eye which also means one of the deck eyebolts can be removed and a lot less rope is required. This layout also enables greater control of the main sheet with the bight running from the lower block and making it easier to deploy the mainsail to starboard or port. Replacement blocks have already been selected and are in the process of being renovated.
Renovated double block with becket.
Bullseye.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Shamrock's Slipway

With the delivery of the new rails for Shamrock's slipway due, the crew has used the time preparing the old rail chairs ready for re-use. This has mainly consisted of removing the old rusted-in securing screws with the aid of a large hammer and the clearing of any rust from the seat area. Replacement “Coach Bolts” are also being cut ready for the securing of the chairs to the sleepers.



Swans

After  two years of failing to raise any young, the pair of swans that normally nest in the mill creek gave Cotehele a miss this year. With their recent reappearance, along with five cygnets, the new nesting site they used, believed to be between Cotehele and Halton Quay, has obviously been a success.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

Limber Holes

To enable water to be pumped out of Shamrock the frame floors have draining channels (limber holes) cut out of their under sides, to port and starboard of the centre line, to enable water to flow freely on each side of the keelson to the pump well. Some vessels have a light chain run­ning through the limber holes from forward to aft. These chains, when pulled back and forth occasionally, keep the ’Limber’ holes free of any blockage. Any blockages on Shamrock have to be cleared by hand by the crew. To allow ac­cess to the limber holes the thick limber planks are bolted parallel to and 150 mm (6 in) out from the keelson, thus leaving a gap on each side of it. When the hold is empty it is a good policy to leave the gaps uncovered to allow air to circulate and ventilate the frame spaces. Note: due to the number of visitors this is not practical on Shamrock as they would be a hazard. When cargo is to be loaded, the gaps are covered with portable limber boards, which seat on to spacing blocks placed on the frames so that they lie flush with the surface of the limber planks. The thick limber planks, like the Beamshelf, provide extra longitudinal strength within the hull. In Shamrock the planks are of 100 mm (4 in) thick Douglas Fir and just under 254 mm (10 in) wide. Their outer edges are bevel­led along their length to match up with the ceil­ing planks in the bottom of the hold.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Shamrock Repairs

Second hand railway line with all the bits required to replace Shamrock's slipway tracks have been obtained from Bodmin & Wenford Railway. As the line is in 18m (60ft) lengths it needs to be cut in half for transporting and physically lifting into place, also new bolt holes need to be drilled in the cut ends. This is going to delay putting the line down until the beginning of August with the major repairs to Shamrock now scheduled for the autumn.

Shamrock is Not so Lonely

On Sunday 7th May after 13 years inside Mashfords boatyard the Lynher barge floated on the Tamar meaning that Shamrock is no longer the 'only fully restored Tamar Sailing Barge in the world'. The crew hopes that the two barges can meet up at an event sometime in the future.

Shamrock's Workboat

With the painting and salting of Shamrock's workboat completed she is finally ready to be rowed to her river mooring for the summer.


Sunday, 30 April 2017

River Survey

With the fitting of sonar to Nancy Belle and the approach of the first of this year’s river trips, the opportunity has been taken to survey the river Tamar on both spring and neap tides from Cotehele Quay up-river to past Eel island, which is just a bit further up the river from Morwellham. The purpose of the survey being to check for any fallen trees or signs of the river silting up. Along with finding the exact location of a large submerged tree that was known to be in the river, it was also found that the river bed has been eroded by about 1 meter (3 ft.) between the pillars of the Calstock railway viaduct.

Calstock viaduct dip
Submerged tree spring tide.
Navigational hazard! Submerged branch neap tide.
Now where is that tree?
It’s not been all river trips as the crew have been giving Shamrock's workboat a fresh coat of paint and she is now just about ready to go back on her mooring for the summer. The boat shed has also been cleared and all machinery checked ready for Shamrock's repairs.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Naked Shamrock

Regular visitor to Cotehele Quay will have noticed that Shamrock has not been fully rigged and looks a bit sparse with only her main and mizzen masts showing. This is the result of a hole being found in one of her hull planks, just above the water line amidships on the starboard side, caused by a mooring rope rubbing on a section of rot during a period of high winds. Shamrock will now need to be completely de rigged and hauled out once her slipway rails have been renewed. When she is high and dry on the dockside, the offending plank will be renewed, her keelson repaired, at least one other hull plank that is known to be rotten renewed, the renewal of any other planks found to be rotten and finally, once back in the dock, fit her engine.


The damaged plank.
Visitor access to Shamrock has been improved with the manufacture of a ramp that fits under the end of the gangway and gently sloops down onto the cargo hatch boards, thus allowing the not quite so nimble to go on board her. Shamrock's 'Meet and Greet' volunteers are also being pampered with the addition of an all-weather shelter in the form of a hut complete with veranda.  



Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Change of Running Rigging

Due to safety concerns Shamrock's natural fibre rigging ropes are in the process of being renewed using man made ‘Polyhemp’ rope. Polyhemp looks like natural fibre and has the advantages of being stronger, impervious to water, longer lasting and doesn't rot or shrink when wet. To the crew his means that once she is rigged the running rigging blocks won't jam nor will there be the need to slacken everything off when it starts raining and subsequently take up the slack once the weather improves. Rotting sections of rope where found during the recent renewal of the main peak halyard that had only been in use for two years.

In 1981 one of Capt. J. F. Joint’s conclusions, in the report from Second Sailing trials of “Shamrock, stated:  “Natural fibre ropes are subject to rot if left wet. This is bound to happen with Shamrock as a static exhibit”, how right he was.
Old and new peak halyard. 
Completed peak halyard and to be done mainsheet.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

New Crew Member

Over the last few weeks the boat shed has had a regular visitor in the form of a Wren which seems to have made the shed his personal larder. This search for food is achieved by working down the south side windows stopping at each one checking for flies and it even checks out the crews coats for any morsels while flitting along the coat rack. Initially the bird appeared to be a bit camera shy disappearing whenever attempts were made at getting a photo but finally seemed to pose for a few shots.

Posing

Checking for flies
This week the early morning spring tide was used to float Shamrock from her dock to the slipway for a day while her dock was re profiled. She is now back in the dock waiting to be re-rigged for the coming visitor season.

Shamrock high and dry

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Life Jackets

While Nancy Belle is receiving a fresh coat of paint, in preparation for her 2017 river trips, the life jackets that have to be worn by passengers and crew have been taken away to be checked and serviced. These will also be needed by the members of the crew manning Shamrock on any of her trips. Shamrock's main and mizzen boom crutches that were starting to look a little tatty have been stripped of all their old varnish and are in the process of being painted. Shaune must be losing his preference for varnish!






Friday, 3 February 2017

Busy January

January has been a busy month for Shamrock's crew with the heat from the wood burner allowing painting and varnishing to be completed to a high standard and harden up ready to be returned to the elements. Jobs finished include the deckhouse, forward companionway, bowsprit, mizzen mast, main plus mizzen booms and gaffs. Nancy Belle has also been rubbed down and any damaged sections of paint primed ready for a new coat of paint. Her deck boards have been removed and are being coated with anti slip paint. The star job of the month has been the design and building of a 'movable engine control housing' from pine, old bits of marine plywood and then veneered with recycled teak. The criteria being that anyone watching when Shamrock is sailing will not be able to see the controls, the housing will not look out of place and will be easily stowed out of sight, in the after cabin, when not in use. Well done Shaune.

Lots of varnish.
Paint and varnish.
Spotty Nancy Belle
Just add combined engine and gear control lever.
Matching roof lines.