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.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Shamrock's 'Pirates of Penzance'

Shamrock's crew has recently obtained a copy of a 1983 letter sent from Fred Easton to John Stengelhofen relating to the history of Shamrock while she was being used as a salvage vessel. John being the owner of Shamrock obviously wasn't very happy with skipper Silas Oates and his crew.

Pirates of Penzance

Fred Easton
“Sunny  Villa”

John Stengelhofen
National Maritime Museum
Cotehele Quay
St. Dominick

Dear Mr Stengelhofen,

Re:”SHAMROCK  the PIRATES of  PENZANCE” SEA SALVAGE BARGE that led its owner nearly behind bars.

I thank you for your letter of 14th December 1983 and note that you require some history about the “SHAMROCK”.   Well I give you all the information I can remember of it from the time I purchased it on Hayle Causeway Sands.  I went to see it when it was in the hands of a mining company who were using it for dredging under the sea bed off St.Ives.
It was experimenting with their searches to see how much tin was in St. Ives Bay and when they laid it up I purchased same but it was in a bit of a rough state and it had been fitted with Twin Perkins Diesel Engines, twin screw. I bought it for my new Company, set up known  - as CORNWALL SEA SALVAGE Company, me being the owner and Company Director.  But I called in a PILOT who joined me, i.e. was CAPTAIN SILAS OATES, a well-known  character in the Plymouth area today in boats etc.  When we started after buying  it for a few Hundreds of pounds, it was given odd repairs, and was PAINTED.  We had thought it was something out of this world because of its age being STAMPED on one of the STRUCTURE BEAMS its 1890’s date region, but did not realise it was ever worth what’s its worth today, or before we sold it for your MUSEUM. We had it sooner or later working off PENZANCE and went out SALVAGING for WRECKS, or scattered parts of wrecks, looking for Propellers of bronze or any METALS of value in the main, plus GUNS or ancient items or COINS or whatever we may come up against.  As I am not a sea going person I left it all in the hands of the Captain but I carried often the DYNAMITE to the Boat so to blast off the VALUABLE METALS when found off the PENZANCE COAST LINES to LIZARD, off the LIGHTHOUSES, to LANDS END and around to PENDEEN, ZENNOR, ST.IVES areas.  Our crew were a mighty rough lot, they use to be sitting around the Fire with the HIGH DANGER DYNAMITE around them.  So I stood at home and waited for the rewards to be landed at Penzance Quay, but I had such a bunch of DIVERS that they knew more about cheating than they knew about honesty. And because I never went out to see what was going on and on, they were bringing home the REWARDS, but they never came in until dark often, and when they came in they had a TRUCK on hand to unload it and carry it away to some places unknown to me and having had to believe them.  It was sooner or later learnt that they were seeing me off and the VALUABLE METALS etc. were being handled off  “SHAMROCK”  when I was in bed, but  I sooner or later caught up with them, and they again beaten me, they took it up to PLYMOUTH out of me reach.  As I was in other and other Business’s so I had not any control over them for I could not pilot any boat, not even a Punt.  However this crew were no other than PIRATES, they were PIRATES OF PENZANCE and they got in trouble here, there and everywhere, all beyond my control.  I could not see any other than facing all the bills, the SHIP/”SHAMROCK” began to be one of a LIABILITY to me, never knew next when the POLICE were coming for me, caused by the PIRATES.  They were acting LIVING LIKE PIRATES; they really believed they were “THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE”.  They were like me, rather UNEDUCATED, but my HONESTY was overpowered.  My honesty did not fit in and so I got NOTHING OUT OF that set UP SEA SALVAGE COMPANY Business.  Poor old “SHAMROCK” led me into trouble. I cannot blame “SHAMROCK” , it was the Crew acting like “PIRATES OF PENZANCE”   they got involved in Court cases and they got away with most of their cases being PIRATES. How on earth they never got drowned, I cannot tell, for I have seen them DRAGGING IN from LANDS END, huge PROPELLERS strapped up on the side of this little sailing barge.  It was HAMMERED TO DEATH, and they ran up bills here, there and everywhere that I had to be liable for.  It began to be one hell of a mass burden and it was pointless to sue them because they had nothing, or you just cannot get blood out of a stone, or get blood out of these “PIRATES OF PENZANCE”.  So, sooner or later whilst it was at Plymouth, when they ran it to DEATH, it was in Plymouth Harbour running up harbour fees, and I ordered it to be towed to Loo Lake somewhere off Plymouth, and it was then unfit to be taken to Falmouth and so I was DOOMED.  It was a DOOMED COMPANY from the time I engaged the DIVERS of DISHONESTY until I was FORCED to see it be SOLD for as low as £100 region, there was no alternative for me.  But this is, was “SHAMROCK’S” history of its SLAVERY WORK it carried on whilst I owned it, was WORKED SLAVED TO DEATH, and I really sold it for SCRAP, but the buyer seen more value in it than I could see at the time when today it’s PRICELESS.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Shamrock's Christmas Present

On returning from the Christmas break the crew was able to admire Shamrock's new engine that had arrived in the boat shed.
Shamrock's Christmas Present
One Shiny Engine 
Outline plans for its fitting have been drawn up and they are; Remove the starboard bunk, remove the ceiling planks from the area where the engine is to be fitted, remove the ceiling planks along the line of the shaft, and mark out where the stern gland is to be fitted. The intention then is to float Shamrock over to the slipway. At low water the frame and hull will be drilled out and then fit the stern gland. Once this is completed, line up the shaft, fit a P bracket, fit and secure the propeller. All this needs to be completed before the tide rises! Shamrock will then be floated back to her berth. The next stage is to measure up, fabricate and fit an engine bed before finally dropping the engine in place. Cooling water, exhaust and electrical systems will also need to be fitted before venturing out on the river. Shamrock will then finally be able to finally manoeuvre under her own engine power.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Shamrock's Crew Potted Review of 2016

During the first few months of 2016 most of the crews time was spent refitting Nancy Belle with new, lockers, seats and deck boards as well as using lots of paint. One of the year’s main highlights was in April when the National Maritime Museum handed over their shares in Shamrock to the National Trust who then became Shamrock's sole owner. This was celebrated on the 30th April with a handover day. Nancy Belle had a successful year of river trips, between April and September, with none cancelled due to the weather, although there were a couple of wet trips. July saw the arrival of a new fire/dock washing pump that can be carried by two persons, a definite bonus over the old one. In October a marine diesel engine was ordered for Shamrock and is due to be fitted in time for any 2017 trips. This should enable Shamrock to undertake more trips and be less vulnerable to the weather. Due to unforeseen circumstances 2016 was the first year since 2009 that Shamrock hasn't manage any trips away from Cotehele Quay.

Finally members of Shamrock's volunteer crew ('Summer Wine Crew') who sadly passed away during 2016

Jack McMurren
Jack was one of the original volunteer crew members who had to retire from Shamrock's crew due to ill health. Jack an old sailor, used to enjoy his trips on Shamrock saying he felt more alive when he was afloat.

Dave Hill
Dave one of the “Meet and Greet” crew who also liked to do a bit of painting was known for his random test of a lifejacket while Shamrock was in Royal William Yard. He also had a habit of persuading visitors to hand over their cameras enabling him to take family or group photos.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Christmas Break

Before departing for their Christmas break the crew rigged a few ropes, dug out, adjusted and fitted Shamrock's old winter covers resulting in Shamrock being well covered and ready for whatever the weather throws as her. In the boat shed the crew enjoy the warmth of a well stoked wood burner while getting on with repainting and varnishing of the deckhouse and what was a scruffy looking bowsprit.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Second Sailing Trials Accident Report

The last of J.F.Joint documents relating to Shamrock's second sailing trial is the accident report of the damage done to a yacht moored at Wear Quay during that trial.

Ref:-   Shamrock trials and the accident involving a moored yacht at Wear Quay, River Tamar, Devon
on Friday 16th October 1981.

        This report is prepared with copies to the following:-
Mr Jeff. Hughes, the owner of the damaged yacht.
The National Trust and the Maritime Museum, the co-owners of Shamrock.
The insurance  underwriters.

I, John Frederick Joint, of 23 Parkesway, Saltash, Cornwall. was appointed as master of the Tamar Sailing Barge Shamrock for the second set of sailing trials for the period Friday 16th October to Sunday 18th October 1981.
My instructions were to simulate the conditions of service and operation to investigate the potential for eventual local use of Shamrock. One of the considerations to be investigated was the voyage from her up river berth at Cotehele to the open sea at Plymouth. For this part of the exercise it was proposed to let Shamrock use the ebb tide with assistance from our own dinghy fitted with an outboard motor and from the Captain’s barge from H.M.S. Defiance: ready for immediate hook up and tow if it became necessary.
Before the berth at Cotehele was left, the crew of Shamrock were instructed as to our intentions and the crew of the naval vessel, hereafter called the “tug”, were told to keep close and be prepared for connection of the tow before the narrow and congested parts of the river at Wear Quay and at Cargreen.
Our bow anchor was rigged outboard through the port hawse, so the tow rope was rigged and ready through the starboard hawse. A large fisherman’s type anchor (kedge) was rigged on a slip, outboard at the stern.
The Shamrock slipped the quay at Cotehele as the tide started to ebb, at 0950, and drifted gently downriver using the tide, quants, sweeps and assistance from our own dinghy, crewed by two men from my crew.
It was found that Shamrock could be manoeuvred without too much difficulty in the ‘empty’ upper reaches of the river. She was able to avoid the few moored craft and was logged passing Halton Quay at 1105.
Approaching Hole’s Hole to the north of Wear Quay the tug was warned that connection would be required and advised to come back down our port side and be on the starboard side ready to take the tow line. Some delay in the execution of this order followed and the tug performed several lengthy manoeuvres before the line could be passed. In the meantime Shamrock was caught in the accelerating tidal stream and was rapidly approaching the trots of moored yachts at Wear Quay.
The tug was connected, but by this time the situation had developed, so I ordered the kedge (aft) anchor of Shamrock to be let go. This was done and Shamrock eventually halted on a long scope of anchor warp.
During this the tug had got herself athwart the stream(tide) and was set down onto the bows of a moored yacht. Shamrock was anchored and under control, so the tow line was slipped, for the tug to clear herself.
Shamrock continued to slowly drag her anchor and my immediate concern was to protect her and to prevent her from running amok through the moorings. The bow anchor was dropped and we manoeuvred with the tide and the two anchors into the middle of the main channel and lay there to both anchors in the strong ebb tide. The time was now 1230.
The tug, a 64ft Nelson type, triple screw launch, had attempted to clear herself by the use of power and had fouled one screw and rudder with the mooring chain of the yacht. The yacht’s mooring was released and she was tied up alongside the tug, which was “moored” by the fouled chain.
When the tide had eased, and I was sure of the safety of Shamrock, I went across to the tug and the yacht to make some assessment of the damage etc.
A naval diving team were called in to clear the mooring and the Shamrock continued on her way to the Sound under tow from a naval pinnace/picket boat from H.M.S. Defiance.

Found: - Inspection by J.F.Joint,   Master of Shamrock and Surveyor.

The yacht that was damaged is a 21’5” sailing sloop with an inboard auxiliary engine.  She is of a design similar to the Silhouette or Alacrity having a fore deck, a midships cabin and a small sailing cockpit.  She is built of marine ply and painted.

To mitigate any further damage and to start to prepare the boat for eventual repair an external in section was made and some temporary protective work done.


Work done

Repairs required
The Pulpit. Of 1¼” galvanised steel tube, on four securing pads had been bent and the forward pad pulled out of the deck. 

The pulpit was removed and placed in the cockpit. Screw/bolt holes were sealed.  Guard rails, halliards were secured to the mast.

Pulpit to be straightened and the galvanising checked. Repainted and refitted.  3” S.S. bolts and screws were bent and will have to be replaced.
The Bow Roller and plate. Of stainless steel, extending aft by approx 10” had the cheeks to the roller bent.

Remove, straighten and refit.
Fore Deck Planking In way of the foreward port foot of the pulpit had been ripped completely away leaving a hole approx. 4” across and a surrounding area of delaminated deck deck ply.  Compression damage to ply at the foot of the aft pad.

The hole was trimmed around the hole with a knife and filled with a putty compound. This was secured with a vinyl covering pad which was secured to the deck.

The deck of 3/4 marine ply will have to be cut back and a new section let in. Damage to the deck stringer and pulpit pads internally were not able to be checked. Repaint to match with non slip deck paint.

The Toe Rail.  The Iroke toe rail on the port side which was in one piece was damaged and ripped in the original collision. The toe rail on the starboard side was damaged later by the
attending diving tender, which
came alongside to clear the 
fouled shaft/rudder of the tug.

Both toe rails (approx.15’) to be removed, renewed or repaired and refitted, ensuring a watertight hull/deck seal.

Deck Ventilator. Found to have been damaged, possibly by being walked upon.

Replace and refit.
Pick up Buoy and Rope.  The rope was severely twisted and kinked and the pick up buoy had the handle torn off.

Replace 12’ ¾” (18mm) Nylon or Polypropelyne rope.            Replace one 10” pick up pellet.
Mooring Chain. This was strained and cut in several places by the diving team. 

Replace 40’ of  3/8” galvanised mooring chain with connectors.

Hull Paintwork. The hull had been repainted this season and the owner was not intending to repaint this winter. There was no discernable damage to the structure of the hull but the paintwork was scuffed and scratched on both sides, by the tug and the diving tender lying alongside.

Rub down, undercoat and topcoat.

The owner of the craft was contacted as soon as possible, naturally he was concerned at the damage, but will be perfectly happy if the boat is restored to her original, pre accident, condition.

She was home built, and it was suggested that he made his own repairs for an agreed sum, but he said that he had no spare time at the present and would have to have the work completed by a local yard.

At this time we have had no estimates for repairs, but I would recommend the following:-

A Blagdon of Richmond Walk, Plymouth or
Calstock Marine of Calstock, Cornwall.   (bird)

If you require any further information or details please let me know.

Yours faithfully,