Monday, 30 December 2013

Shamrock Review of the Year 2013

As Shamrock sits in her dock at Cotehele Quay riding out the winter storms, her crew enjoying a winter break, it's review of the year time.

For the first time, this year has seen the recruitment of 'meet and greet' volunteers and Shamrock being opened up to the public on most weekdays, weather permitting.  This combined with the opening up of the boat shed to visitors has resulted in over £3300 in donations being collected, more paint!

January and February

Shamrock's forward deck is caulked after having some of it's planks replaced.
The forward end of the cargo hatch coaming renewed.


Bulwarks repaired and refitted.
Shamrock's hull is given a new coat of paint.
Shamrock is lowered down the slipway, floated off her cradle and then roped into her mooring dock.


Shamrock's foredeck anchor windlass and deck winch are refitted.
Masts raised and Shamrock rigged for the summer season.  


In early May the first planned trip of the year to the Old Gaffers Association 50 Anniversary event at Plymouth is cancelled due to the weather.
Painting of Shamrock continues as normal.
Late May early June trip to Plymouth's Royal William Yard goes ahead as planned.


Return trip to Cotehele from Royal William Yard.
Shamrock's planned trip to Saltash Regatta has to be cancelled due to a combination of high winds and the exposed Saltash berth location.
Slipway cleaned in preparation for the successful Cotehele "Wet Wet Weekend".


Shamrock left Cotehele Quay on the Friday 19th for a weekend in Royal William Yard where she remained until Wednesday 27th. She was then towed to Sutton Harbour in preparation for the 2013 Plymouth Classic Boat Rally.
After a successful rally Shamrock returned to Cotehele Quay on the 31st July ready for the summer visitors.


This was the month that the over-subscribed guided river trips on Nancy Belle started.
Shamrock's last planned trip of the year had to be cancelled due to, of all things, the lack of crew. How dare they go on holiday!


Nancy Belle completes her last river trip of the year.
Winter working plans are being discussed.

October and November

Nancy Belle moved from her mooring and hauled up the boat shed slipway.
Half term week and some the boat shed is used for "Half term spooky fun on Cotehele Quay" events, broom making, monster making etc.
Shamrock's sails and any loose fittings are removed to the boat shed for the winter.


Crew attend the Cotehele volunteers Christmas lunch, very nice too.
Shamrock's after deckhouse moved to the boat shed and a temporary cover fitted.


The crew's attention has been drawn to the following.
Cornish working craft have traditionally put a furze bush on the mast at Christmas time and still many Cornish harbours will see fishing boats with a fir tree attached to their masts. 
A bit late for Shamrock's 2013 Christmas but perhaps in 2014.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Shamrock Project

This post looks at the future of Shamrock and how to fund her once the National Maritime Museum grant ends.
As some of you may know, Shamrock is funded by a grant from the National Maritime Museum, which next year will be £36750. Unfortunately the grant funding will come to an end in 2015 and if the National Trust were to provide equivalent funding it would take much needed money from other important conservation projects. Consequently, we need to become innovative and find new ways to raise money to preserve Shamrock. A new ‘Shamrock Project’ has been established to lead the way and Nigel Tigwell has been exploring possibilities of raising money and reducing the costs of Shamrock without compromising her conservation standards.
The first big question to be answered in what Shamrock’s role is to be. From the 1970s restoration onwards she has been the country’s “Historian’s Ship”. This means she was restored to demonstrate to future generations the limitations of sail and the difficulties with which seamen of former ages had to contend. Her perpetual upkeep would keep museum curators and historians in touch with the practical challenges of traditional maintenance, preparing for sea and sailing an organic sailing ship. The combination of these roles helps historians better understand and interpret the naval campaigns and battles of the past, by supplementing the written records of operating larger, more complex wooden ships, both merchantmen and warships.
As the “Historian’s Ship” Shamrock was restored, not as a museum exhibit, but to sail in an identical material condition as she did in 1926. Cotehele Quay was reconstructed to provide a traditional Tamar small shipyard as her base, for her maintenance and to enable a holistic interpretation of the River Tamar trade under sail.  Shamrock is still maintained to traditional standards by traditional methods (OK, we occasionally use power tools) and she still remains as she was at the end of her restoration, with no anachronous materials and seaworthy.
Much of the cost of conserving Shamrock is in maintaining her in a seaworthy state and running her Boatshed, dock and slipway at Cotehele. If, for example, the powers that be decided the country no longer needed a “Historian’s Ship”, we could save a significant amount of money by not maintaining her to the same standard. Needless to say, the Shamrock crew and all at Cotehele are keen to continue with the “Historian’s Ship”, but the question has to be asked.
So, back to raising money, and how we might do it.  It really falls into 3 avenues: get better at what we already do; look for new revenue streams; or apply for grants from elsewhere. Covering grants first, this is superficially attractive but has a low chance of success. The Heritage Lottery Fund and others like to fund restoration projects, but not ongoing year-on-year maintenance. We might be able to get a grant to help with a specific expensive repair, but we would rather care for and maintain Shamrock so that she doesn't deteriorate to that state.
Our current money raising activities are primarily operating river trips on the Nancy Belle and inspiring people to make donations. We did 4 trips with Nancy Belle this year and made just over £100 for Shamrock on each trip. Obviously, we need to do more trips, but Nancy Belle’s engine is old and very noisy so perhaps we will need to spend money on a better engine first? Our visitors make donations when they have had an enjoyable experience onboard Shamrock, in the Boatshed and the Discovery Centre and when they understand the cost of preserving and operating Shamrock. If we can attract more visitors and further improve our visitors’ experience, hopefully Shamrock will receive more generous donations. We have some good ideas to achieve this, but again it all needs some level of investment.
In some respects creating new revenue streams is a fun and exciting prospect, but there is a cold reality check. We must, for example, comply with the rules for the National Trust’s unique charity status and, although the economy may be growing again, there is not a great deal of money floating around. Obvious things to consider are selling more Shamrock memorabilia, ideally from the information point within sight of her; we could sell experience days for people to join the crew on one of her voyages; but these alone will not raise the level of money we need. An opportunity we see at the moment is to use the expertise of Shaune and the Boatshed volunteers to take in commercial work: possibly maintaining, repairing or restoring wooden vessels; possibly making historic vessel replicas for sale; and running skills workshops. We are also considering establishing a ‘Friends of Shamrock’ fundraising group and starting a Shamrock raffle (for a desirable object made from Shamrock’s old timbers), but there are tight rules about these activities. Our final option currently is to seek commercial sponsors, again there are rules.
Nothing is decided yet, and there is a lot of work to do before any decisions can be made. However, take heart from our studies in the Shamrock Project that we are doing all we can to ensure our beloved Shamrock does not face a cliff edge when the grant funding ends. We will keep you updated with occasional blog articles in 2014.
In the meantime, if you know of any wealthy maritime history enthusiasts …
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
The Shamrock Project

Saturday, 14 December 2013


This week has seen the removal of the after deckhouse (officially known as the skylight) into the boat shed ready to be refurbished, well scraped, sanded, painted and varnished. Meanwhile the large hole left in Shamrock's deck, by its removal, has been temporary covered while a more permanent cover frame is being manufactured. This needs to stand proud of the deckhouse coaming to allow Shamrock to breath over the winter months.


It's nice to see that the boat shed is still getting a steady stream of visitors so late in the year. A lot of them are walkers and most are surprised that we are open.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Nautical Phrases

Shamrock's crew member Barry has put together this list of nautical phrases and their rumoured nautical origins.

In nautical terms, a ‘sheet’ is not a sail but a rope or chain by which sails were attached to the mast. If three sheets were untied the boat would be difficult to control and its progress erratic. Like that of a ‘drunken’ sailor.


Cannonballs would traditionally be stowed between the guns on a metal lipped tray, made of brass, called a ‘monkey’. In cold weather the brass ‘monkey’ would contract faster than the iron cannonballs causing the balls to spill out and roll around the deck.


In the mid 1700’s naval vessels often had the lower part of their hulls covered with copper plating to stop wood boring insects and barnacles eroding the wood. These vessels therefore became much more reliable and less likely to spring a leak.


To scuttle something means to cut a hole in it, (Hence the round ‘Scuttles’ on a ship) and a butt was another word for a barrel. The ‘Scuttlebutt’ was a barrel of water where the crew would congregate to get a drink of water and exchange gossip and tales.


A jib is a triangular sail at the bow between the boom or the forepeak, and the head of the foremost mast. Different countries would have different styles of jib sail. An experienced Captain could identify the nationality of a vessel from distance by the style of jib and if it were an enemy or suspicious vessel he would exclaim ‘I don’t like the cut of their jib'


The French for a ship's cargo is ’Arrimage’. If a cargo was damaged during a voyage it would be sold off cheaply at ‘A Rummage’ sale.


An early, and nowadays rarely used, meaning of ‘shiver’ is to ‘break into pieces’. Shiver me timbers was often part of an oath inferring that if anything happened to them, a person's boat should be broken apart.


On a ship, orders were often given by means of a whistle (pipe) since the sound would travel further than shouted orders and could be heard across the ship. Pipe down was the last call of the day from the Bosun’s Pipe, meaning lights out and silence. The Bosun (or Boatswain) was responsible for the crew whilst on board.


The ‘mainbrace’ is the thickest part of the rigging holding the ‘Yardarms’ in place. During a battle an enemy would endeavour to disable the mainbrace as the ship is difficult to manoeuvre if it is damaged and therefore unable to easily escape from the enemy. Under the stress of battle, skilled crew members would be expected to repair this difficult part of the ships rigging. As a reward they got an extra tot of ‘Grog’ (Rum). Nowadays the reward is given to all the crew and is used to celebrate special occasions such as the Queen’s Birthday or birth of an heir to the throne. 

After the conquest of Jamaica in 1687, rum was introduced into the Royal Navy in place of brandy.  In 1740, Admiral Vernon issued an order that the daily ration of one pint of neat rum to men and half a pint for boys should be diluted with a quart of water in an attempt to reduce drunkenness in his fleet – hence sailors feeling ‘groggy’.  It was called ‘grog’ because Old Vernon always wore a cloak made of material called grogram.

The practice was totally discontinued in 1970. 
In the old days the punishment for a serious crime on board a ship, a crewman might be ‘flogged’ or whipped. It would be the job of the Bosun’s mate to administer the punishment using a ‘cat o’ nine tails’. This was a whip fashioned from a piece of rope with thin strips of leather fastened to it. The leather strips were often knotted or had sharp objects tied into them to inflict more pain. The cat o’ nine tails was kept in a bag, so it was bad news if the cat was left out of the bag.


This is an acronym for ‘Port Out, Starboard Home’ and refers to wealthy passengers travelling to overseas destinations who could afford to switch cabins during the voyage to ensure they were always on the side opposite the sun, the cool side.


Wooden ships had to be sealed with hot tar between the planks to stop the ship from leaking. The ‘Devil’ seam was the longest on the ship at the top of the hull and was next to the ‘scuppers’ (or gutters) which allow water to run off the decks. If a large wave knocked a crew member overboard he was said to have been ‘scuppered’ between the devil and the deep blue sea. Also, sealing the deck and devil board with tar was often used as a punishment hence ‘having the devil to pay’.


Towards the end of the 1700’s it became law that lime juice had to be part of the crew’s provisions to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. This shortfall in vitamin C resulted in spongy or bleeding gums leading to the loss of teeth. British ships are still required to carry lime juice.


An iron ball attached to a long handle was a loggerhead. When heated it was used to seal pitch in deck seams. It was sometimes a handy weapon for quarrelling crewmen.


A sailor who will drink lots of beer or rum with his fellow shipmates, but will refuse to buy a round for them.


In some ports, like Portsmouth and Plymouth, women were allowed to come on board the ships to boost the morale of the crew. The men were often forbidden shore leave for fear that those who had been forced into service (Press Ganged) would run away. Every morning the duty Petty Officer would order the occupants of the hammocks to ‘shake a leg’, or show a leg. If the leg was smooth and shapely the woman was allowed to sleep in, if the leg was hairy the occupant was ordered up on deck to assist with the swabbing of the deck.


British vessels often carried a cage of crows. If the weather was foggy, and the crew unsure where the coast was, they would release a crow, crows detest open stretches of water and will head in a straight line for the nearest shore. The cage of crows was kept in the lookout perch at the top of the mast, which came to be known as the ‘crows-nest’.


From the late eighteenth century, Bristol was the main British West coast port where all the shipping activities were carried out in a business-like and efficient manner.


Because space on board a ship was very limited, particularly if carrying a large cargo, the only available space for a woman to give birth on board was between the cannons.


Until advanced measuring equipment was invented, tracking a ships progress was very difficult. It was managed by means of casting a wooden board, or log, attached to a rope with knots tied in it at equal distances, over the stern of the ship. The log would remain stationary and the speed of the ship calculated by how long it the rope between the knots to be pulled out. Hence the ships speed is measured in knots. These calculations were recorded in a log book. This book is now used to record all events on board a ship as they happen.

Unless of course you know different.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Geoff's left!

Geoff started working on Shamrock in March 2007 and was one of the first volunteer crew. He and his wife Pamela, who has been a volunteer at the house (Cotehele) for 7 years, have decided to move to the wilds of Scotland.

Geoff will be missed as the crew member who, if you wanted any intricate woodworking or carving, was the one to do it. He was always ready to crew Shamrock on most of our river trips as well as being the obligatory "good with the paint brush".
Geoff enjoying the sun on Shamrock

Some of Geoff's Shamrock legacies.

Rudder post cap.

Main boom crutch.

Carving close up.

Collection box.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Winter Preparations

This week has seen the removal of the furniture and fittings from the fo'c'sle cabin; its hatch cover has also been removed to the boat shed for cleaning and painting. During the process it was discovered that the cabin table can be folded flat making it a lot easier to stow.

On deck the staysail boom, staysail sheet, mainsheet and mizzen sheet have all found their way to the boat shed. After unreeving the ropes they were then coiled and spread over Shamrock's workboat to dry ready for storing. The blocks have been placed to one side ready for servicing and varnishing as required.

Shamrock looking sparse.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Striking Gold

The first item of the week is a bit of self-congratulations as Cotehele has won the Gold award in the Historic & Heritage Property & Country House category at the 2013 Cornwall Tourism AwardsShamrock's Crew likes to think that we played our part in winning this award.

On Wednesday the crew mustered in The Edgcumbe for a volunteer meeting chaired by Joe. Items discussed included, winter working, plans for next year and the most important one was how to fund Shamrock's upkeep after 2015. This is when the National Trust becomes the sole owner and the annual grant from the National Maritime Museum ceases. Currently the Shamrock is jointly owned by the National Trust (34/64) and the National Maritime Museum (30/64). More on all this in later blogs.

Shamrock is gradually being de rigged ready for the winter with the removal of the mizzen sail, lifebelts, light-boxes, drag-chain and any other items that are easily or not so easily removed. The spiders had a bit of a shock when the light-boxes were removed.

The boat shed is getting a lot more organised in the tool department with the completion of a new tool board. The instigator of this is Barry Marshall who used to be a helicopter engineer, no one could have guessed.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Back to Normal

Life in the boat shed has been quiet this week when compared with last week's "Spooky Fun" hoards, and the only decoration has been the mainsail drying. A reminder of the last week could still be seen outside the shed door with a couple of Friday's monsters that their creators had forgotten to collect.
Orphaned Monsters!! 

Wednesday saw the dock-washing fire pump being recovered from under the work bench, and put to use washing the mud from Shamrock's dock slipway, after its usual last minute repair. Extra depth was also added to a section of the quay's wall with the clearing of its accumulated mud. Luckily in a way, the weather was wet with fewer visitors liable to get wet due to the washing process.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Spooky Fun

Due to last weekend's high winds, the plan to erect a marquee on Cotehele Quay for this week's "Half term spooky fun on Cotehele Quay" had to be cancelled. As a result, half of the boat shed has been commandeered and decked out for the week's pumpkin carving, broom making, mask making and monster making activities. Judging be the amount of visitors, noise and exhausted members of the countryside team / volunteers coming from that end of the boat shed a good time was had by all. The only disappointment was that no one managed to fly away on their broom!

Boat shed decorations.
More decorations.
Pumpkin wagon.
Broom production line.
One result of all this activity was that Shamrock had a regular stream of visitors.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Shamrock Volunteers Ode

Visitors to the boat shed always seem to have smile when they read the following "Volunteers Ode" which is pined to the wall of "The No Sympathy Inn", rest room.

    When I joined the National Trust, they promised me a fleece
    A green one with "THE SHAMROCK" on, will wonders never cease

    They also promised steel capped shoes, some goggles and a hat
    Which made me look a proper burke, so I didn't think much of that

    In the next few weeks things appeared, like tools and bits and pieces
    I thought, well that's all very well but where's our ruddy fleeces

    I used to dream about my fleece and how handsome I would look
    I'd strut around the quay all day and get my picture took

    I bet they've got them "up the house" and all that other lot
    It seemed to me the "SHAMROCK BOYS" had simply been forgot

    Spring came and went and summer too and still no fleeces arrived
    With autumn round the corner I'm beginning to feel deprived

    Now the season is coming to a close and they're expecting us to cease
    But I tell you, I'm not going till I get my ruddy fleece

Volunteers have been working on the Shamrock since 2006. This ode was penned by one of the first year volunteers; yes we now have fleeces and also Shamrock overalls.

Nancy Belle update

Due to the large number of "Tamar Crocodile's" coming down the river Nancy Belle has been moved from her mooring and is now on the boat shed slipway ready for her winter maintenance.
Tamar Crocodiles are tree trunks or large logs that float down the river almost completely submerged.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Can You Just

The day is Tuesday and it's getting late, Shaune is about to lock up for the night when Joe, Cotehele's head ranger, appears at the door with a box of old bike bit's. "Shaune can you just make some trophies for the weekend's King of the Hill" he asks.
As Shaune is not known for refusing a challenge most of Wednesday was taken up with designing and producing what can only be described as a couple of more unusual trophies.

The following event blurb describes the weekend's King of the Hill event.

King of the Hill cycling race
19 October 2013 10am-3pm
This is a knock out cycling competition organised by the Plymouth Cycle Club. You'll start at the Edgcumbe tea-room on Cotehele Quay and cycle up the hill to just near reception at Cotehele House. The morning event is a race to decide who will be in the King of the Hill race and the afternoon event is the King of the Hill race proper.

Winter Preparations

Shamrock's staysail has been removed to the boat shed where it was dried and folded before being stowed for the winter. Only the main and mizzen to go.

Web News

Last week's visitor obviously decided there is a better chance of catching flies at a different location and has now moved web to above a table near one of the sheds windows. Still no signs of any flies getting caught though.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Arachnophobia Alert!

Life on Shamrock and in the boat shed is starting to get quiet with the number of visitors reducing every week. We have even managed to leave one visitor to the boat shed hanging around above Shaune's boat.

Not that all activity has ceased with work continuing on the new gangway. The design has been changed and instead of using the existing gangways stanchions these are now being manufactured from wood, along with the hand rails. One result of this activity has been that we now have a tidy wood rack, well almost.

The ‘Thursday gang,’ hoisted the jib so that it dried in the sunshine and at the end of the watch unbent it and took it into its winter quarters in the shed. Just to prove to Shaune that they were not slacking while he's away!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

More Jobs!

A job that was omitted from the last blog is the construction of a new gangway. This job is already under way in the boat shed and is now awaiting some new wheels and the stanchions to be removed from the existing gangway, at the end of the season.

One visitor to the boat shed also suggested that Shaune should make a cat-o-nine-tails. Something to do with keeping all the volunteers in order!

After last week's photo of Shamrock sat on the mud in the afternoon sun, this week's shows her afloat in the morning sun.

While on the subject of photo's here's one of the mud buggy. Lovely lines for keeping the mud out.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Winter Working

As Shamrock basks in the autumn sun, winter working plans are being discussed.

During the winter Shamrock normally sits on her cradle at the top of the slipway with her winter cover on, this cover is very low and restrictive. So this years plan is to leave her in the dock, remove the rigging and some of the spars and leave at least the main mast standing. The idea behind this is to use the masts and possibly the booms to support a higher cover over the deck to enable wet weather working without being on your knees.
The list of planned jobs seems to be growing and as with all Shamrock's plans a lot depends upon the weather.

Shamrock Jobs

  • Remove the after deckhouse* to the boat shed for repair and painting.
  • Remove the forward hatch cover** to the boat shed for painting.
  • Remove the existing caulking from the hold side decks and the after deck. Replace any rotten planks from these decks and then re-caulk them. Easily said but not so easily done.
  • Grease/oil the stay wires.
  • Later or in the spring get out the mud buggy*** and paint the hull to the mud line.  
* Referred to as skylight/ companion-way in Shamrock's restoration book.
** Referred to as fore skylight/ companion-way.
** Mud buggy, a large open top rectangular wooden box that's lowered into the mud alongside Shamrock and used work from. Top job.

Nancy Belle Jobs.

  • Either secure at the top of the boat shed slipway or take into the boat shed.
  • Remove deck boards and engine.
  • Paint the bilges, refit and realign the engine.
  • Make new soundproofed engine cover.
  • Clean and paint the hull. 

One thing we can be sure of is that these lists will be changing.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

All Quiet on Shamrock

Regular followers of this blog may be wondering why there has been no mention of any maintenance activity (painting) on Shamrock over the summer period. This is mainly due to the fact that she has been open for visitors on most week days and as we have found out visitors and wet paint don't mix very well.
The plus side of this is meeting lots of very interesting visitors from all walks of life and some inquisitive children who think it's great that they can walk below deck while the adults have to stoop. Either that or walk into one of the very low beams.
As plans are already being drawn up for winter working we are sure this lack of activity will soon come to an end.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Bonus Trip

Due to the success of the Nancy Belle river trips a bonus trip has been organised for Sunday 15th September. Don't all rush to the phone to book a place though as this and tomorrows, Thursday 12th, trips are already fully booked.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Early Owners and Masters

A list of known Shamrock's owners and masters from before the 1970's restoration.
This information was originally researched and compiled by Alan Viner of the National Maritime Museum.
Date Owner(s) Shares Master
4th September
Tom Williams
Lighterman of Torpoint
64 Tom Williams
27th May
Tom Williams
Fred Williams
Lighterman of Torpoint
Fred Williams
First Registry of vessel closed July 14th 1919. – Registered anew after structural alterations and the addition of a motor as a sailing vessel with an auxiliary motor.
3rd October
William Betty
William Betty
St Germans
Robert Telford
Merchant Saltash



James Garland
20th January
William Betty
Robert Telford

James Garland
15th February
Ethel Steed
Widow of St Germans
64 Richard Hoskins
4th May
Steed Bros.
Notter River
64 Richard Hoskins
23 June
Charles Dunn
Company Secretary
Arthur Russell
Accountant of
Ethel Steed
Widow of


William Trebilcock

1st November
West of England Road
Metal Company
64 William Trebilcock
17th July
E. Richardson

21st July Costal
Prospecting Co
64 Ernest Stephens
Second registry of vessel closed 6th August 1963. – After the installation of two diesel engines registered anew as a twin screw motor ship.
2 May
Richard Curnow
Engineer of

28th April
Robert Fildew
Driver of

11th February
The National Trust

For the purposes of registration, a ship is divided into 64 shares; most maritime nations (the United States being an exception) follow this custom.

Why 64 Shares?
As normal there appears to be more than one explanation.
The three that follow seem to be the most popular.

1. The fact that ships traditionally had 64 ribs

2. Under Queen Victoria ship owners were taxed 36% and left with the remaining 64%.

3. Or maybe it's part of the easy maths way to divide up a unit
Originating in the earliest trading days when the owner wanted to split the risks of voyaging between his financial friends. No decimal or % business in them there days!
All the "sixty-fourth" shares were sold off and could be split again by the new purchasers, but so long as all the fractions added up to 1, the risks were properly shared out.

On a lighter note

This week has seen the arrival in the boat shed of one of Rob Roy sailing canoe's direct descendants.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Mutiny on the Shamrock!

Shamrock's weekend trip, to Plymouth's Royal William Yard, has been cancelled due to a variety of reasons, low tides, lack of tows and finally the lack of crew!! Most of the existing crew are either on holiday or entertaining guests and a press gang is no longer an option.

On a more positive note Nancy Belle has now completed three successful river trips to Morwellham and due to demand more trips are being planned.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Last trip

Shamrock is scheduled to have it's last trip of the year (unless Shaune knows different) to the Royal William Yard (RWY) Plymouth on Friday 30th August with the return trip on Monday 2nd September. She is due to depart Cotehele Quay at around 11am with signs of life, loading, coming from the boat shed from about 9am. The leisurely return trip should be leaving RWY at about 1pm on the Monday.

New Donations Box

A couple of weeks ago a half barrel type water pitcher arrived in the boat shed, in pieces. After a bit of soaking and a few aborted attempts it was finally assembled only to pose the question what do we use it for? Answer, lets make a rustic donation box which is going down very well with visitors to Shamrock.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

River Tamar Trips

The National Trust property Cotehele is now offering a limited number of river trips, in the Nancy Belle, with the first one successfully completed on Tuesday 13th August.

Trip details:

Starting from Cotehele Quay the Nancy Belle will head up river past riverside woodlands, under the railway viaduct, past Calstock and deeper into the valley and on towards Morwellham Quay. Throughout the trip there will be commentary on the valley's fauna, flora and history. The trip will last approximately 2 hours and on returning to Cotehele Quay everyone will be invited to the Edgcumbe for a pasty lunch.

Trip dates:

27th & 28th August & 12th September - 10:30am to 12:30pm, 15th September - 2:30pm to 4:30pm.

Ticket price (includes trip and pasty lunch) £12 per head (sorry no price reductions).

To book please ring 01579 352720.

Proceeds from the trip will be used to help maintain Shamrock.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Shamrock Traditions

Since the completion of Shamrock's restoration in the late 1970's a couple of traditions have started to emerge.

Perkins Pile
This refers to the pile of gear that is offloaded from Shamrock on completion of a trip and just dumped in the boat shed ready to be stowed at a later date. This is named after Tom Perkins who started the pile tradition. Tom was the shipwright who spent two weeks patching Shamrock's hull to get her to float on Hooe Lake and then be allowed to be towed past Plymouth dockyard and onto Cotehele for the restoration. He was also the shipwright in charge of the restoration and worked and sailed on her for many years after the restoration.

Nutty Slack
A coconut and biscuit base cake covered in chocolate. Not sure of the exact recipe but on most trips Sarah, Peter's wife, usually supplies Peter with enough slices of this for the whole crew. He's not allowed to take it back so I am afraid that any extra just has to be eaten. What a shame!!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Busy Weekend

The weekend spent at the Sutton Harbour Plymouth Classic Rally 2013 was a great success with lots of interesting visitors.  


Had Spotlight (the local BBC news program) filming for a feature on the evening's program, also the weather forecast was transmitted live from Shamrock's deck overlooking Gipsy Moth IV.


Shamrock's sails had been soaked by Wednesday night's heavy rain, so the theory that a crew of two (man and boy) could set and strike her sails was put to the test and proved possible. While they were drying the view from the quay was dominated by Shamrock's sails. 
Shaune also drew a bit of an audience while he eye spliced some ropes for for one of the other boat owners.


Whilst I was meeting and greeting, Mr Fildew’s daughter and her two sons came aboard. (He raised her from Hooe Lake in a derelict state and planned to restore her but later sold her to NT for £1.00.)  After a long, helpful chat whilst the boys thoroughly enjoyed exploring their grandfather’s boat, we planned to meet up and fill in some of the gaps in the archives. They may like a trip downriver sometime.

Monday (Give us a lift)

With an early start Shamrock, being towed by Nancy Belle, cleared Sutton Harbours lock gates by eight for the return trip to Cotehele. With a freshening wind and squally showers Nancy Belle relinquished the tow to Little Charly, a Clyde Puffer designed motor sailer, in a prearranged manoeuvre while crossing Plymouth Sound. This resulted in the trip being completed in record time while averaging a speed of 5 knots.   
Just before arriving at the quay the tow was released, Nancy Belle secured to the stern ready to push and pull Shamrock alongside. She was secured alongside just as a heavy rain shower arrived so the crew disapeared into the boat shed for a quick cup of tea while it blew over. 
With the crew suitably refreshed, Shamrock was then roped warped along the quay into her dock, secured and unloaded. 

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Shamrock in Sutton Harbour

After a quick trip across Plymouth Sound, Shamrock is now safely berthed in Sutton Harbour ready for the Classic Boat Rally.

She will be open for visitors on the 26th, 27th and 28th of July.

Return Trip

As we are entering a period of low neap tides Shamrock will be returning to Cotehele Quay on Monday the 29th's morning tide, the last day of the rally. This is to ensure that there is sufficient water at Cotehele to enable her to dock on arrival. She is due to leave Sutton Harbour at 07:15 (another earlier start) and should arrive at Cotehele Quay about 11:30.


What's the result of a few weeks of sunshine followed by a night of heavy rain? Answer, lots of water in Shamrocks bilges.
On opening up Shamrock this morning one of the bottom boards was found to be floating, no electric pump so back to the scoop and bucket. About 100 bucketfuls!! So much for the gentle cruise.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Shamrocks Early Start

Shamrock is due to leave Royal William Yard at 08:00 on Thursday 25th for her trip across Plymouth sound. She is scheduled to enter Sutton Harbour by 09:30 ready for the weekends Plymouth Classic Boat Rally.

Friday, 19 July 2013

River Cruise

Today Shamrock left Cotehele Quay, as scheduled, for a gentle cruise to Royal William Yard (RWY) Plymouth, where she is now berthed. The trip took longer than normal due to a brisk headwind. She will be open for visitors on the 20th and 21st June.

Lining up to enter RWY
 Random life jacket test! How did that happen?

The plan is to remain in RWY until Wednesday 24th, then proceed across Plymouth sound to Sutton Harbour (the Barbican), in preparation for the Plymouth Classic Boat Rally, July 26th to 30th.

Shamrocks return trip to Cotehele is scheduled for Monday 29th July. Times of the move and return journey will be published here when known.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Rob Roy Update

Is it a restoration or is it a repair?

Repairs to the Rob Roy sailing canoe's hull have started and over the last few weeks Shaune has replaced or repaired any broken ribs and beams using left over oak from the restoration of Shamrock's work boat. 

The original plan was to replace any broken or split planks. On closer inspection it was found that to replace all the affected planks would entail completely rebuilding the canoe, which could easily result in the loss of its present shape. Also the planks are made of pitch pine which is hard to come by and can be very expensive. The use of pitch pine helps explain how she managed survive the 30 years or more exposed to the elements. 

Plan B is to replace the one broken section of plank (done), tape up the split planks on the outer hull and then apply a layer of glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) on the inner hull. (GRP!! Gasps of horror from the purists.) By using GRP the majority of the hull will be the original timber and keep its original shape. More importantly it should be watertight as the intention is to sail the canoe on completion. Future maintenance will also be easer as drying out won't be such a problem.    

To replace the missing section of plank a small amount of pitch pine was acquired, but this was not long enough. To overcome this two lengths have been scarfed together, shaped and then steamed into place.

Currently Shaune has turned his attention to renewing the stem post as the original disintegrated when the large screws, used in a previous repair, were removed.

A decision is still needed on the sails and rigging layout with a simple lugsail currently favourite.    

Friday, 12 July 2013

A Date For Shamrock Watchers

Shamrock is due to depart for Plymouth's Royal William Yard on Friday 19th July. The afternoon high tide is around 3 p.m. so she should be afloat and away by 2 p.m. Loading is scheduled to start late morning, no not cargo just the bits we need for the trip. As usual this depends upon the weather but so far it's looking good.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Wet Wet Weekend

Last weekends 'Wet Wet Weekend' went well with one of the highlights being the 'Splash and Dash', the splash being a quick swim in the river followed by the dash a run around the Cotehele estate. Members of Shamrock's crew were involved in the splash, manning Nancy Belle (safety boat) and both work boats (course marshalling). Thankfully all was quiet and time was even found to shoot a few video clips.

Other weekend attractions included demonstrations from various organisations including the Plymouth Model Boat Club and Saltash Maritime Cadet. The RNLI's display had the twist of allowing children, dressed in all the gear, to throw a rescue line, from a small rescue boat, to whoever was accompanying them, and then pull them to the boat.

Last but not least Shamrock was open for visitors and had a busy two days with some children making two or three visits.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Welcome Mat

After last week's comment about Shamrock needing a welcome mat one has now appeared! Thanks Barry.

Other Happenings.

On Wednesday the fire pump was dragged from the boat shed, positioned at the bottom of the boat shed slipway and then put into use washing the mud from Shamrock's dock and slipway. This also had the bonus of supplying entertainment for the visitors. 

The slipway needs to be cleared of mud on a regular basis and this week was chosen as it will be needed during this weekend's (29th & 30th June) planned 'wet wet weekend' events.
Nancy Belle was also checked over in preparation for her role as safety boat for the 'splash and dash'.

Copied from Cotehele's events web page.
Wet wet weekend features all sorts of water-based activities including a ‘splash and dash’ swimming and running race, a best dressed pirate competition, model boat demonstrations, canoe taster sessions and more.  

Friday, 21 June 2013

New and old enhancments.

Visitors to Shamrock often express wonder at how the crew managed to live in the cramped forward cabin with its lack of facilities. To try and add to the experience and give visitors more of an idea of what it would have been like, Shaune has now installed an old, small wood burning stove. That, along with a large kettle, a few pans and some metal plates gives the impression that the cabin could be lived in. Lighting the stove would cause a bit of a problem though as there is no flue. (A bit of artistic licence). Not that we have any intentions of doing this.
Also this week has seen the arrival of a new cargo hatch cover which definitely looks smart. We now need a large welcome mat to try and keep it that way.