Thursday, 18 December 2014

Mast Stowed

With the help of a local forester, and his Unimog, Shamrock's main mast was final lifted off onto the quay and lowered onto a couple of launching trollies borrowed from Cotehele Quay Gig Club. As the load areas of these trollies pivot around their wheels it was then a simple (four handed manpower) matter of towing the mast into the boat shed. Finally, with the aid of a hydraulic jack, wooden blocks and wedges, the mast was raised onto the awaiting trestles.

Now the job of removing all the old varnish and paint can start, also Shaune can check the fit of the four new saddle segments, he was muttering something about the mast not being round or oval for that matter.

Shamrock's temporary winter covers have been fitted, she has been pumped out and salted ready to be left to the elements over the Christmas holiday period.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Storm Preparation

During last winter a number of Shamrock's mooring lines snapped during the various storms, luckily not all in the same storm. As a result of this the old natural fibre mooring ropes are gradually being replaced with man made nylon rope which will last a lot longer, have a bit of stretch and shouldn't get fungus growing on them. Shamrock purists need not get alarmed as her rigging ropes are still hemp and these are renewed with hemp ropes when required (quite regularly).

Temporary winter covers are being prepared for the openings left when the after deckhouse and forward companionway hatch are removed to the boat shed. These covers will also need to allow for the ventilation of the forward and after cabins.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Shamrock Hoopla

As Shamrock's main mast is due to be moved into the boat shed, her workboat has been moved to the quay boat yard and covered for the winter. This leaves enough room in the shed for both the mizzen and main masts to be left out on trestles with ample room to work on them in comfort. Also in preparation for the move the main masts saddle (collar that supports the boom) and sail hoops have been removed, less bits to get in the way. All four wooden sections of the saddle are showing signs of rot and will need to be renewed before the spring, also the hoops will need sanding and a coat of varnish.

Most of Shamrock's rigging bottlescrews have been scraped and wire brushed clean of old paint and bitumen ready for a fresh coat of paint and finally greasing.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Getting Organised

One of the problems the crew has is identifying what rigging blocks go where during the rigging of Shamrock in the spring. The blocks are labeled during the de-rigging of Shamrock but these tend to get lost or replaced on the wrong block when they are removed during the winter maintenance process of cleaning, greasing, painting and varnishing. This year three sections of boat shed upper shelf have been allocated to main, mizzen and stay sails where the respective sails and rigging ropes are stored along with their blocks which are hung below the shelf. The blocks will now be a lot easier to locate and if the labels do end up on the wrong block at least we will know to which area of the rigging they belong.

A start has been made on the stripping of all the varnish and paint from the mizzen. Nancy Belle which is now on the boat shed slipway has been scrubbed out and the paint inside the hull looks OK for another season. Outboard, her bottom and sides will need a rub down and another coat of paint though.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Lowering Shamrock's Main Mast

Lowering Shamrock's main mast takes quite a bit of preparation the first of which is the removal of all her rigging and as many blocks as possible, the process is then to:

  • Fit a wire strop to the top of the main mast.
  • Blocks and tackles are attached between the forward stays (wires that support the mast) and bulwark stanchions, these steady the mast during the lowering.
  • A block and tackle is fitted between the forward mainstay and its fixing point on the cap of the stem (bow) along with a safety rope.
  • A temporary pivot pin is fitted through the tabernacle and mast, then the holding bolt and main pin are removed.
  • As the mizzen mast is used in the lowering this has to be prepared by rigging of the starboard stays as a forward and after stay, fitting a snatch-block to the top of the mast and a wooden block to the mizzen tabernacle, this supports the main mast once it has been lowered.
  • The initial lower is started by heaving on a rope attached to the top of mast and once gravity takes over is controlled by the mainstay and side stays blocks and tackles ensuring that the mast falls to the starboard side of the mizzen.
  • Lowering is stopped once the mast has dropped below the top of the mizzen to allow the deck winch cable to be passed through a block attached to the bow, through the snatch-block at the top of the mizzen and finally attached to the wire strop at the top of the main mast.
  • Using the power (human) of the deck winch the cable slack is taken up, mainstay block and tackle released and the mast finally lowered to its resting place on the mizzen tabernacle.

Not a bad days work.

Shamrock's crew accept no responsibility for errors or omissions in this article.

Stripped masts.

Preparing for the final drop. 

Both masts down.

Friday, 7 November 2014

End Of Season

With the end of the season and after the noise and the crowds of last week this week has seen the boat shed back to its normal quiet self with only a few visitors strolling through.

The serious business of de-rigging Shamrock is now well under way with the removal of all her sails, sail covers, booms, gaffs, bowsprit, light boxes and anything else that is easily removed. She is also being prepared for the lowering of her mast next week. The weather has been kind enabling the sails to be aired before being removed and stored for the winter and the only the sail covers needing to be hung up in the boat shed to dry. The booms, gaffs and bowsprit are still in remarkably good condition and will not require much maintenance over the winter months, which is more than can be said for some of the rigging blocks.

Is this the worlds largest hammock?

Friday, 31 October 2014

Broomsticks Ready

Over one hundred broomsticks were prepared ready for the Halloween half-term “Fun Broomstick Decorating” day and the boat shed ended up being invaded by lots of creative children and adults. By the end of the day there was only a few of the, shall we say ‘shabby’, examples of broomsticks left and lots of highly decorated ones in evidence all over the Cotehele estate.
The whole week of activities resulted in a very noisy boat shed and extra visitors to Shamrock. Witches and warlocks needed to park their broomsticks on the quay before being allowed onboard. There was one claimed sighting of Harry Potter, but we're not convinced.

Two squadrons of broomsticks ready for decorating.
Boat shed ready.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Steam Box

In preparation for handing over half of the boat shed for use during Halloween half-term "Fun on the quay" events, the rather large wood pile in the boat shed has been sorted and the majority of it moved to a new store. At the bottom of the pile a large old metal tube was found, removed and broken up, with the aid of a large "Birmingham" screwdriver, ready for disposal. This was originally a metal lamp post that had been converted, with the addition of a couple of emersion heater elements, to be used as a 'steam box' for softening wooden planks during the restoration of Shamrock. It was well used judging by the amount of scale found inside and after the restoration ended up being moved into the boat shed, once it had been built, never to be used again.

Halloween half-term fun on Cotehele quay
Monday 27th to Friday 31st October 11am - 3pm.
Monday & Thursday - pumpkin-carving.
Tuesday - mask-making.
Wednesday - broomstick-decorating.
Friday – monster-making.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Winter Rain

With the arrival of the first of the winter's rains Shamrock's decks are taking up again (swelling) and she is remaining remarkably dry below deck for the time of year. This is also partly due to her new cargo hold vents.

Winter Working

Along with the plan to get both masts and all of Shamrock's rigging into the boat shed for winter maintenance the list of dry day jobs onboard Shamrock is also growing.
  • Sections of the rear hatch coaming need replacing.
  • Bulwarks and wash-strakes repaired, stripped and painted.
  • Complete caulking the decks.   
These jobs are due to run over into next summer. One more job that will need to be done over the winter months is the rubbing down and painting of Nancy Belle's hull.

Boat Shed

With the removal of the shelving from the top of the old paint locker the perfect place was created to display the model of Shamrock and someone also had the idea of enhancing it with a few old rigging blocks.

Caption Competition

While looking through this summers photos the crew member Barry came across this photo taken during the fitting of Nancy Belle's new engine. It seems to be made for a caption competition so feel free to add one in the comments. The best one will printed with the photo and added to the boat sheds photo collage.

A suggestion from the crew:-

Who left that there?

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Mass Boarding

Wednesday was a bit busier than normal when 80 plus pupils, staff and helpers from Liskeard’s St. Martin’s Primary School visited Cotehele. They all managed to visit Shamrock, doing so in groups of about fifteen, and unusually she was not referred to as a pirate ship. One lad did ask if we kept the cannons in the hold as he was about to go below, sorry but we did disappoint him.

King of the Hill

With the end of the season comes the “King of the Hill” cycling event, a cycling competition. Competitors take a gentle ride up the steep hill, which is timed, from Cotehele Quay up towards Cotehele House. This is due to take place on Saturday 18th October and is becoming an annual event. As usual Shaun has been volunteered to make the trophies, there is a rumour that these unusual trophies are becoming sought after in the cycling world!

With Peter preparing to take his boat “Shanti” out of the water for the winter, Shamrock’s dock is beginning to look a little crowded.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Cotehele Volunteers River Trip

Nancy Belle's season is coming to an end, this was marked by a couple of river trips for the National Trust Cotehele Volunteers. 'Will' her crew member, who was doing the guide, commentary bit on the first trip decided to dress for the occasion and went a bit over the top.

Will or is it Popeye?

On the subject of Nancy Belle, her old Sabb engine should be soon making an appearance on eBay ready for someone else to take on. It's still a runner and only requires a bit of tender loving care.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

New Paint Locker

A recent addition to the boat shed is a new 'Control of substances hazardous to health' (COSHH) locker. As far as the crew is concerned it will be known as the 'Paint locker' replacing the existing large wooden paint locker. As the existing locker has been flooded frequently in the last few years the new one has been raised off the floor. The old one will be used for storing oakham and other bit and pieces but only on the shelf leaving the floor area free to flood.
Oakham is used in the caulking of Shamrock.

Shaune has been busy renovating the pram dinghy with the fitting of new oak gunwales ready for varnishing. Well the oak is too good to just paint over!

Winter Working

Jobs are being prioritised for this winters working. The main one will be removing of the main mast into the boat shed ready to be surveyed for rot and then it will be stripped back to bare wood, allowed to dry and finally painted and varnished ready for a new season.

All the rigging will be removed from Shamrock, and looking at the state of some of the pulley blocks these are going to need a good sanding and a few coats of varnish as well.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Venting Shamrock

As the nights are drawing in, and it should be getting wetter, Shamrock's cargo hatch canvas cover has been replaced for the winter after being removed in May. As Shamrock tends to sweat when she is shut up for the winter the port forward and after hatch boards have been removed and replaced with sheets of plywood angled with large wooden wedges to create a venting gap at each end of the hatch coaming. The temporary boards are covered with the canvas which in turn is held in place by metal straps and wooden wedges finally the original hatch boards are placed on top. This discourages visitors trying to use the temporary boards as a ski ramp! One more advantage of this setup is the extra light it lets into the normally dark cargo hold.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Nancy Belle Trips

Accompanied by glorious weather the Nancy Belle has completed her last public river trip of the year. During the trip she managed to navigate a lot further up the Tamer than normal, this is down to the fact that some of the large trees that were blocking the river above Morwellham Quay have been removed. The problem with the Tamar River is when a tree is down you cannot be sure what’s under the water around it due to the murkiness caused by silt, this makes the water very murky. There is a rumour that Nancy Belle is due at least one more trip upriver this year, this time for the volunteers, we just hope the weather is as good.

Nancy Belle returns.

Can we use her for water skiing?

A single bat has been spotted under the eaves at the front of the boat shed. The crew not being chiropterologists (bat experts) have no idea what species it is or if it wants to become a member of Shamrock's crew.

Hanging around.
Another photo of Shamrock.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Waifs And Strays

Making an appearance in the boat shed is an abandoned fiberglass pram dinghy ready to be restored to a seagoing state. She will need a large hole in the stern of the keel line repaired, wooden gunnels replaced, resealed and polished. The seats seem in good condition and are probably the reason why the hull is still in one piece. Its planned to fit a small wheel or wheels to the stern which will facilitate one man launch and recovery. The intention is to use her as as a tender for getting Nancy Belle to and from her river mooring. At present this duty is performed by the Edgcumbe which, with great difficulty, can be launched single handed but recovery needs to be at least three handed or the aid of a handy-billy. The pram dinghy will also be useful for completing odd jobs on Shamrock's external hull, when there is sufficient water in the dock.  

One for the album.

Shamrock's early morning visitors.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Salty Shamrock

Shamrock has spent most of this summer at Cotehele Quay only having had one trip to the salt water so when a musty smell was noted on opening for visitors the need to salt her became apparent. First a new supply of salt needed to be obtained, this resulted in rather a large pile appearing in the boat shed.  Salting the cargo hold is no problem as one line of ceiling* planks on each side of the keelson are easily removed, for the purpose of pumping her out, also allow salt to be easily placed between each of the holds frames. Observant visitors to Shamrock have noticed the vents below the beamshelf which allows air to circulate between Shamrock's hull and ceiling planks, they also act as salting holes and are used in the salting of the remainder of Shamrock's hull.

Salt is also liberally spread on her deck, especially in areas that tend to remain damp.

Why is salting required? Salt water gradually pickles wood, fresh water rots it.

*Ceiling, the inside planking of a ship's bottom and sides.

Lots of salt.

Venting / salting hole.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

River Tamar Views

With the present weather being rather stormy the view of the Tamar from the boat shed can change completely during the course of a day.

Morning view.
Afternoon view.
Shamrock is abandoned during the morning rain.

After lots of toing and froing Peter's boat Shanti finally leaves Cotehele Quay and takes it's first trial trip on the Tamar.

She was escorted by Nancy Belle and a fine example of Tamar Crocodile.

Friday, 8 August 2014

New Bits.

Over the last few weeks Shamrock has acquired a couple of new extras.
First, there is the new mizzen crutch designed to support the mizzen boom, this takes the bending weight of the boom, gaff and sail off the mizzen mast while she is docked.
This advantages over the old scissor crutch are:
  • It's a lot easier to put in place.
  • Does not need lashing to the warping horse (easier to paint the horse).
  • The tiller has to be moved to one side before putting the crutch in place this prevent heads hitting the tiller when exiting the after hatch.
  • (Health and safety will like this one). No longer a finger trap. 

As the old scissor crutch was made using original Shamrock timbers, removed during the restoration, a decision is now needed as to how these old timbers can be used to raise funds for Shamrock.

Secondly when a complete, rather old and tatty barrel was gifted to Shamrock the obvious thing to do with it was to turn it an donations barrel to compliment the existing successful water pitcher type donations barrel.

Extra job.

One often unplanned job is the removal of mud splatters from Shamrock. Some of these are caused by heavy rain while she is sat on the mud but the worst ones are caused by visitors throwing stones or other objects in the dock deliberately splashing Shamrock! Some people have no respect for an old lady.

Mud splattered transom. 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Shamrock's Weekend Celebration

Fine weather helped with Saturday 26th successful celebration marking 40 years since Shamrock arrived at Cotehele for the start her restoration. She had her sail covers removed, ships bell and navigation lights put in place and was dressed overall.

Ready for visitors.
Three of the original post restoration crew Giles Clotworthy, John Longworth‐Kraft and Peter Bee attended the event and swapped yarns with the present crew. Lots of tales about the near misses had by Shamrock on her various trips. Giles also brought along a painting of Shamrock returning to the quay after her first trip along with his scrapbook of old photos.

Old crew

New old crew

One of the most popular attractions, apart from viewing Shamrock was the lifting of weights with ropes and pulleys. The original idea was for the children to lift an adult demonstrating the mechanical advantage of the pulleys. Children being children had other ideas though as they wanted to be lifted by an adult, one lad even insisted on being lifted a second time so he could take a selfie.

Anthony Rose sang sea shanties onboard Shamrock and following his performance the “Wreckers Border Morris Musicians” performed onboard whilst their “Morris” dancers performed on the quay. The final musical entertainment was supplied by the “Trig Morris Men” of Bodmin on the main quay.

Other attractions included a demonstration of the garden game Smite, the City of Plymouth Model Boat Club with a display of their crafts from steam powered launchs to remote controlled racing yachts and a demonstration of knot tying by the Get Knotted team.

Other News

Shamrock's planned 3rd to 6th August visit to Royal William Yard is cancelled.