Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Dry Docking at Tooley’s, Banbury

Since leaving Warwick early last month our two little ships have very slowly meandered their way along the Grand Union Canal to Wigram’s Turn and then south down the Oxford Canal in order to keep a special date with the dry dock at Tooley's Boatyard in Banbury. The weather was extraordinarily fine all the time, which made the passage even more enjoyable.


A beautiful day at Claydon Locks


We arrived on the Tuesday before Easter ready for ‘Roots and Wings’ to enter the dock on Maundy Thursday to have her bottom blacked. Subsequently she remained there for seven days because of the holiday weekend and ‘Futurest’ went in the following Thursday for the same treatment coming out five days later on Monday last.


My wife’s grave


In her six years as my special companion ‘Futurest’ has always been ‘blacked at Tooley’s. Because Banbury used to be my home town this yard was my natural first choice and because I have always had such good service there I am so glad I didn’t take ‘Futurest’ anywhere else instead.







…..and Tulips


As well as the blacking I have always received from the company afterwards, at no extra cost, a printed report complete with photographs informing me of the condition of the hull, rudder, propeller, anodes and weed box. This is very useful on later dockings to note whether there has been any deterioration in the meantime and indicates too whether any remedial action is required this time. It’s not quite a full blown hull survey but my goodness I have found it so helpful. The dry dock is also classed as an Ancient Monument having been built in 1790 so this too has made it all the more special for me to use;  by being blacked here I feel I am helping to keep this piece of ancient heritage alive.


Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly


However when it was first built the dock was designed to service the wooden shallow draft horse drawn narrow boats of the time and not hulking great steel ones with a heavy Russell Newbery Engine aboard like ‘Futurest’ drawing two feet nine inches at the stern. But I had never realised before quite how shallow the dock was as I had never encountered any trouble getting the little ship in or out.  Purely by chance on previous occasions I had very little fuel aboard in the after tank when I docked her, but this time on our way south, without applying much thought to the consequences, I had refuelled at Wigram’s Turn Marina thereby increasing the draft considerably.

So imagine my surprise when last Thursday, after I had carefully lined ‘Futurest’ up and began entering, only two thirds of her length had entered the dock before she stopped dead and no matter how much I increased the revs she didn’t budge an inch. With Matt, the director of the firm and employees Graham, Linda and also Janis who had come along to help too perched precariously as far forward as possible, ‘Futurest’ still wouldn’t move. In the end they had to drag the old girl forward with a winch till her rudder was just clear inside the dock doors.

On Monday with a sparkling black hull and with the propeller rotating astern bringing extra water into the filled dock, I thought there would be a distinct possibility that ‘Futurest’ would float out with little difficulty. But no chance. She had to be winched out again to float clear into the canal.

She really stuck her claws in this dry docking, bless her and I must remember in future to have just a small amount of fuel in the tank when having her dry docked.

I have added a few photos of Spring to the page, which though not at all relevant to dry docking in any way, may help to brighten things up a bit.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Hi Futurest here!

The Boss having left me all winter on my own has now left me again, on my own, in the dry dock at Tooley’s at Banbury for a few days and swanned off to stay aboard ‘Roots and Wings’ with Janis no doubt.

Honestly! It’s as if he doesn't like me anymore.

‘Roots and Wings’ went in just before me and even though she’d been left all over the winter on her own as well, she went in and out the dock ever so easily…. just like the meek and mild little thing she is. But I wasn’t going to do the same for my Old Man…. no way! I wanted him to know how I felt about the selfish way he’d left me for all that time.

Yes you’re right. I did need to have my bottom cleaned off but it was going to be on my terms rather than his, I’d make sure of that. Later on in the year perhaps would have been a better time for it.

So when the Boss took me down yesterday morning at eight o’clock I behaved as good as gold till he had lined me all up to go in and then I put my foot, or rather my bottom down, and just refused to go any further. 

With an irritated look on his face the Skipper increased my revs (he can be such a spoiled child when he wants to be you know) but no, I wasn’t going to change my mind and I stayed firmly stuck in the entrance to the dock.

Next, Matt, and Graham came aboard and perched on my bow, hoping to lift my stern a bit higher while the Skipper, looking even more annoyed, kept the revs up. But I was made of sterner stuff than that and the next thing they did was call Linda, Graham’s lady, from the office to come and stand on the bow as well.

And they did look so silly all of them perched in front of my cratch cover all hanging on so precariously on top of my forepeak locker lid. They didn’t look very happy and I’m sure none of them felt safe either.

Because that wasn’t working, next the Skipper shut off the revs and hopped ashore with a stern rope hoping to lift my stern and with him pulling on the rope and the other three pushing on the overhead beams, I still didn’t move…… I intended them to work a lot harder than that to persuade me.

Next the Skipper went down and stood on the bow as well hoping that his extra heavy weight might make me lift my stern….. And they all pushed till their little faces went bright red, but I wasn’t going to move.

In the end though they got the electric winch out and I knew I would have to give in then otherwise my bow would have been pulled off or something. But I had made my feelings known and still I was not prepared to give in lightly.

But slowly, inch by inch, my bulk was hauled in until the lock boards could just be slid into place behind me and they would be able then to let the water out of the dock. I hoped by then though that the Skipper knew how I felt.

I have decided to start using the Skipper’s web page again to say what I want. The other site that I began using was too difficult for me to work and it’s so much easier using this one. I’ll just have to continue choosing the right moment, when he’s not around, to write.

Now I’ve managed to make my point (I hope), I must say it is nice to have him back home from abroad. He’s a job to put up with at times but I miss him when he goes away and I was ever so touched by his letters to me from New Zealand and Australia.

Shows he cares a bit, doesn’t it?