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,


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Shamrock Post-Restoration Sailing Trials Conclusions

Along with his "Second Sailing Trials of Shamrock" letter/report J.F. Joint also included his conclusions of the trial and what steps needed to be taken to operate Shamrock safely. It is not known who added the bracketed comments.


1. The period chosen for the trials was bad as the tides were falling back from springs which produced strong currents and limited the daylight high tides to once only.  I was not consulted about the date and was only informed at a late stage. (We were informed by the NT of the date they intended to sail. Capt. Joint was contacted by me as soon as I had formal approval for the voyage.)

2. Shamrock is well able to drift in the river using the tide, but this may result in accidental stranding on mud banks, no danger, but most importantly the river is now highly congested in some reaches and here Shamrock could be a danger to herself and to others.

3. The dinghy with an outboard motor is only adequate in slack stream conditions.

4. The naval tug is, if anything, too powerful and needs very careful handling.

5. Shamrocks anchors are more than adequate for the job. A special warp will have to be designated for the kedge aft.

6. Ballast was well stowed and produced trim by the stern. To further reduce leeway perhaps three times the amount should be used.

7. The sails set well but were very heavy to handle, some cringles will need to be inspected.

8. Cordage presented one of the major problems. The jib sheets are too short. (right length on first voyage).  The main and mizzen sheets are too big for the size of blocks and deadeyes. Particularly when wet. The ropes and blocks are all of the correct ratio – i.e. block size is 3 times the circumference of rope.

9. Natural fibre ropes are subject to rot if left wet. This is bound to happen with Shamrock as a static exhibit. (not with proper maintenance).

10. Stowage of spare gear presents a problem. The hatch is available, but when she is sailing this should be secured and made watertight.

11. The hatch boards should not have hand holes cut in them.

12. There should possible be three hatch tarpaulins, a little larger than at present, which should be secured when at sea.

13. Her stability is excellent; she stood up to a force 8 with only slight heel.

14. The rig is fine, it needs to be balanced to reduce weather helm, but it provides plenty of power.

15. Leeway is a major problem. At no time during each of the sailing trials has Shamrock made any ground to windward. This represents severe constraints on her potential and poses questions of her seaworthiness.

16. She is perfectly capable of being sailed anywhere around the coast as long as the wind is in the
right direction. Handling in congested waters requires experience, skill and luck. This is not
really good enough and may eventually result in an expensive and well advertised incident.

17. A suitable tug will be required to stand by her at all stages of any voyage. For a passage to Falmouth this would require a deep sea tug.

18. It is my belief that there is no way that the Department of Trade will allow her to be certificated as a sea going vessel without an engine.

19. Insurance cover for use in the open sea and in congested waterways will be very expensive.

20. According to your publicity, Shamrock in her present state, is a hybrid which never actually existed. She either had drop keels to reduce leeway as a sailing vessel or had a motor which would improve her potential and her safety.

21. The aims of conservation are contradictory to the aims of the operation.  The world has changed, conditions and attitudes have changed, if Shamrock is expected to operate on any basis in this modern world she will require to be fitted to meet the requirements of today. Any of the restored vessels throughout the world that are used operationally are fitted with modern equipment which compliments the traditional and antique gear aboard. If Shamrock was fitted with an inboard engine, as per 1920 she would still be able to lie in her mud berth, but she would be able to operate safely within the Tamar. In this condition I could visualize her being used virtually every weekend by boat conservation, bird watchers, historical organisations, industrial archaeologists and the general public. Her potential for advertising and publicity would be immense.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Second Sailing Trials of “Shamrock”

Recently the crew have obtained access to documents relating to Shamrock's post-restoration second sailing trials. The following is a letter/report sent by J.F. Joint to the National Trust and the National Maritime Museum of those trials.

During October 1981 I was contacted by your office and asked to take the Tamar sailing barge Shamrock to sea for her second set of sailing trials.
The date chosen by the museum and the trust was the weekend of the 16-18th of October.  On this weekend the tides were falling away from springs, which in the Tamar meant an early start on the Friday morning and completion either in the morning of the Sunday or after dark on the Saturday or Sunday evenings.
The conditions to be observed during the trials were set out in your letter of the 12th October. They were, in the main, to take the vessel from Cotehele, use the tide to bring her down the river, undergo sailing trials in the Sound and to return the vessel to Cotehele.
During the week preceding the trials I visited the site several times to check on the progress of ballasting, rigging and the acquisition of stores and equipment.
She was ballasted as previously with the stone ballast which was levelled in the cargo hold.
Her ballast draught on sailing was 3ft 07” forward and 3ft 09” aft.
Early on the morning of the 16th I picked up Mr A Stimson, of the museum, from his hotel in Plymouth and we proceed to Cotehele. We arrived while the tide was still rising and began to organise the ropes and moorings to leave her berth and lie alongside the river quay. Other crew members arrived as we warped her around to the quay. There she was secured to await the arrival of the tug and the remainder of the crew.
Crew for second trial:
J.F. Joint Master
A Stimson Mate
P.Bee Deck hand
J.Kraft Deck hand
J Stenglehofen Deck hand
T.Perkins Carpenter
P.Hunt Deck hand

Stores were loaded, covers removed and Shamrock generally readied for the voyage. The bow anchor was rigged outboard, with the chain through the Port hawse, on a rope slip. The tow rope was rigged through the Starboard hawse, with a snap hook for rapid connection to the tug’s towing bridle.
The kedge anchor was rigged outboard on the port quarter, also on a rope slip, with the manila warp connected.
Our dinghy was prepared and the seagull outboard motor tested. Two members of my crew were assigned to the dinghy, P.Bee and P.Hunt. They were instructed as to my requirements regarding the trip down river.
The naval tug from H.M.S. Defiance arrived and supplied us with the life raft and radios.
The naval team and the crew remaining on Shamrock were then told of my instructions and intentions. I asked the naval tug to stand clear, but to be ready to hook up and tow should it be necessary.

At 0950 the surface water was beginning to ebb and we slipped the moorings poled off from the quay and with the assistance of the dinghy started to drift down the river. The day was bright and clear with no wind so we had to use the tide and our dinghy.
The action of the outboard was a little unreliable to start with, but we found that by proper application of the pull she could be manoeuvred and kept in the stream.
Sails were checked and it was found that the outer jib had been left in the shed. The dinghy was sent back to fetch it.
At 1030 while drifting in the stream Shamrock was pushed on to a shallow patch and stopped. The dinghy was connected and was able to pull her off without too much difficulty.
Once we were off I took the opportunity to set the mizzen and the jib as a very gentle breeze had set in.  It was then 1040.
Shamrock continued to drift in the tide. The wind was very fluky and unreliable. By 1105 we were logged as passing Halton Quay.
The fire and bilge pump, which had been provided through the trust were tested and although the pump motor was working well we could not obtain a good jet. it was found later that a stone had become lodged in the nozzle.
After Halton Quay the river turns sharply, but with the assistance of the dinghy and the increasing tidal flow we rounded the corner and headed for Holes Hole.
Up until this time we had not had to use the naval tug, but she was keeping station with us with her engines idling.
South of Holes Hole the channel narrows, a strong tidal flow exists and the river is severely cluttered with yacht moorings.
The tug was warned that we would require to be towed through and to be ready to connect up.  Some delay ensued and the tug performed some lengthy manoeuvres before approaching for the pick up.
In the meantime Shamrock had been caught in the accelerating flow and was being rapidly set down on to the moorings at Weir Quay.
The kedge anchor was readied and dropped on a long scope of warp. Shamrock slowed in her drift and under control but in the meantime the tug had made her connection and attempted to pull us to Starboard. During this he got herself athwart the stream and was pushed down on to the first moored boat in the trots. We were safe, so the tow rope was slipped to enable the tug to clear herself.
The naval tug tried to use power to clear herself but this only made matters worse as his outboard screw fouled the yacht’s mooring and some fittings on the yacht were damaged.
(Damage report on yacht is attached to original but omitted here.)
I ordered the bow anchor to be dropped and with the two anchors and the strong tidal stream we dragged into the centre of the channel and held there. Shamrock was perfectly safe at this time so we secured the vessel, lowered and stowed the sails and prepared for the next stage.
The time was now 1230.  the tide was running at full ebb and there was nothing that we could do.
The tug in the meantime had parted the mooring to the yacht and they were lying alongside each other with the tug “moored” with chain round her screw.
When the tide eased and I was sure of the safety of Shamrock I went across to the tug to make some assessment of the damage.
This is the subject of a separate report to the insurance underwriters.
However I noted with some dismay that on a recent visit to Holes Hole to survey another craft that the yacht was beached, but the repairs specified had not yet been attended to (February 1982)
Contact was made by radio and telephone to the Naval base and the port control. Diving clearance teams were sent to clear up the fouled mooring and a naval pinnace was deputed to take the place of the Captain’s barge and to tow us the rest of the way to Plymouth Sound.
The tow was connected, our anchors raised and we proceeded under tow down the river directly to our arranged berth in Sutton Harbour.
The tide had turned and it took the pinnace all of its power to navigate the narrows. However we finally reached Sutton Harbour and berthed, Port side to, on the South West pier.
Shamrock was tidied up and everything secured for the night.
During the night the wind picked up from the SE and it came in to drizzle. The moorings were tended throughout and Shamrock was at no time in any danger. At dead low water she was just aground in the berth, but the bottom is reasonably soft and she was in no danger.

Saturday 17th October 1981
The day dawned heavy and overcast with drizzle and rain squalls from the E.S.E. I contacted the pilot office and obtained an up to date forecast which indicated that the wind would be E to S.E. force 6 with rain, veering later to S and clearing.
The crew on board breakfasted and prepared the vessel for sea. The remaining crew joined and we then awaited the arrival of our tug. The naval tug arrived, secured alongside and took us off the berth and out into the Cattewater as an alongside tow.
Once in the clear I ordered sail to be raised, Jib, Main and Mizzen. My intention was to raise sail, see how she reacted under virtually full sail and then to reef and to alter the configuration.  All the halliards and sheets had swollen up due to the wet weather and great difficulty was experienced in setting the sails properly. The main in particular was very difficult because of its size, the weight of wind and the stiffness of the cordage, including the main sheet, which was even with the sail pulling well had to be overhauled though the leads.
In the meantime Shamrock had lifted her skirts and was racing out past the Mountbatten breakwater and heading for the sea.
I kept her as close to the wind as I could to keep in the lee of the land, to enable the sails to be set and to weather to Eastern end of Plymouth Breakwater. A naval vessel was moored to the swinging buoys in Jennycliff Bay and several merchant ships were anchored in the Sound which restricted movements.
The wind was easterly about force 6 and Shamrock really revelled in the conditions. On the heading out towards the breakwater she must have been making about 7 knots. Although she was able to point quite well she was making considerable leeway.
I had a colleague out in a 33 foot sailing yacht and he sailed astern of us and estimated our leeway to be at least 25 degrees.
Due to the congestion in the Sound I deemed it imprudent to attempt our first tack too soon and so I headed through the Eastern entrance to the Sound, still keeping within insured limits, to the clearer waters of Bovisand Bay. When conditions were right and the crew ready I tacked her and headed back into Plymouth Sound. She handled well but once again due to the size of the gear and the stiffness of the ropes the crew had their work cut out to trim and rig.
The tack into the Sound went almost as quickly as the first with Shamrock racing along at about 6/7 knots. She had considerable weather helm, but this was eased by spilling wind from the main and mizzen.
Leeway was again the problem, but we headed back keeping as high as we could in the conditions. We reached a clear area of the Sound and tacked to starboard to head back again on a reciprocal course.
The naval vessel on the buoys was manoeuvring to leave and so I determined to try and repeat the previous action.
The clew line on the main blew out, the main had to be slackened off and a temporary clew line rigged.  It was found afterwards that the line had rotted in the splice due to the entrapment of freshwater while at her berth. This is one of the major problems of natural fibre ropes in a static situation. The securing of the clew cringle was also suspect.
At this time I would have liked to have been able to reef the main but I was in doubt as to the strength and ability of the crew to handle and reef the sail in the conditions.
The main was dropped and we continued under mizzen and jib. We tried to tack her twice with this configuration but she would not carry her way through the wind. In the end I decided to wear her around as further runs and attempts at tacking would have taken us further to sea. She came around but by now we were unable to make the Eastern entrance and so we headed for the Western entrance.
Leeway was again a problem and we had several anxious moments in trying to clear a boat fishing at anchor.
By this time the wind was gusting to gale force and we were quite glad to be without the mainsail.
We contacted our tug and told her of our intentions, but she was having some difficulty with the heavy seas and was a fair distance astern from us.  We reached the western end of the breakwater and sheeted in hard to come close to the wind. From this position and with the amount of leeway she was making she was unable to clear Picklecombe point and was being set down on to a lee shore.
We tried to tack but once again she would not come through the wind. The anchors were checked and crew members instructed what to do if I ordered the anchors to be dropped.
The tug was called to re-connect the tow. The sea was very rough and the coxswain had to make four attempts before he was able to take our line and connect the snap hook to the bridle.
During this time we were set even further towards the shore and I had to seriously consider the possibility of wearing her again and heading back out to sea for safety.
If that had happened we would have had to weather Penlee point and then headed for Fowey, St.Austell Bay or points west.
Once the tow was connected I asked the tug to take us as far to windward as he could so that we could anchor in Jennycliff Bay in the lee of the high ground.
Then we dropped anchor and relaxed.
There was absolutely no point in attempting to continue with the sailing trials as it was obvious that we would simply repeat the previous experience and may not be so lucky next time. I felt also that the crew would not have been able to produce any better results under the prevailing conditions.
Shamrock was tidied up and we waited for the wind to ease.
By mid afternoon the wind had fallen slightly and I decided to leave the anchorage and head back up the River Tamar to the safety of an anchorage north of Saltash.
We secured the tug alongside, raised the anchor and sailed, towing the tug, back across the Sound, through the narrows and up the Tamar.
The tide was flooding and the wind was free so we made very good progress towards Torpoint.
On the passage up the Hamoaze the wind came more abeam and we were hard put to maintain our weather gauge. The tug was asked on several occasions to give us a loft to windward.
On passing under the Saltash bridge I asked the tug to take us as far to windward as he could and then to release us so that we could sail up to the anchorage, turn and anchor without the encumbrance of the tug.
At 1715 on Saturday 17th October Shamrock was sailed into a small pool north of the ammunition trios, turned into the wind, and anchored for the night.
Soundings were taken, checks on our position made and the anchor was found to be holding well.
The decks were tidied up, all gear stowed and secured and Shamrock prepared for the night, the tug returned to the naval base with the additional crew, being instructed to return at 0800 the following day ready for the tow back up the river to Cotehele.
The night was very wet and windy with gusts up to gale force from the ESE.  Shamrock lay well to her anchor and was at no time in any danger.
At low water she had nearly two metre of water under her keel.

Sunday 18th October 1981
The wind dies away during the night and by dawn had reduced to a gentle breeze. It was still from the east and in the reaches above Saltash she would have made too much leeway to have been able to sail. I decided to tow up the river to keep the tide and to be able to return Shamrock to her berth at the top of the tide.
We made good progress up the river creating no danger or incidents on the way.
We reached Cotehele before the tabulated time of high water and went alongside the quay for a short time before manoeuvring back into her berth. It was decided that she should berth port side to with her bows out and we attempted to do this by warping her ahead and then pivoting her back on the upstream wall to run stern first into her berth.
The manoeuvre started well but the stream had started to turn and instead of pivoting on the corner of the wall she drifted down onto the end of the slipway.  We tried to pull her off, to pole and push her off, but all the time the water level was dropping, although it was not yet high tide, and we eventually gave up and secured her at right angles to the bank with her stern on the slipway.   There being nothing else we could do, the crew were dismissed and asked to return that night at about 2200.
Shamrock was constantly attended and as the tide fell she settled on the slope of the bank in an ungainly but safe situation.
That evening we reassembled at Cotehele to complete the berthing on the tide. We did no have the use of a tug so I decided to stretch a rope across the river to heave her out so that she could be shifted upriver and then back into her berth. The rope was tied round a convenient tree and rigged to the winch. Shamrock lifted on the tide, was pulled out into the stream and slid back into her normal berth. She was secured in a proper fashion, the rope across the river removed and the remaining gear returned to the store.
By midnight everything was secure and all hands retired for some well earned rest.
The ballast was removed during the following week by the workforce at Cotehele and Shamrock was handed back to her keepers.

J.F.Joint. Extra Master.  M.Sc. M.C.I.T.  M.N.I.

Shamrock's sailing trials route.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Shamrock Camping

With the winter derigging, decluttering of Shamrock almost complete and a start made to the erection of temporary winter covers, it looks as though Shamrock is ready to receive campers. The crew is glad to report that the forward cabin is almost completely dry as the painting out of this cabin is one of the tasks that is hoped to be completed over the winter months.

Advantage was taken of Fridays high tide to drive Nancy Belle half way up the boat shed slipway before being roped approximately 3.5 meters (12 ft) to its winter storage position. The boat shed is starting to get crowded with the addition of Shamrock's skylight/companionway (commonly known as the "deckhouse") ready to be dried out before being painted/varnished.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Derigging Shamrock

After the crowds of the last week of the visitor season the quay has gone quiet and the crew has started removing Shamrock's rigging ready for the winter. Both gaffs and booms have been removed using their respective throat halyards to swing them onto the waiting trolley and subsequently towed into the boat shed. After removing the bowsprit any ropes that could be removed were cleared from the mizzen mast blocks. Using the deck winch the mizzen mast with blocks still in place was lowered over the stern then after removing the blocks manoeuvred onto the cargo hold hatch and left overnight. On the next morning’s high tide it was swung over the bulwark, balanced on the trolley and, using the dropping tide, lifted clear of Shamrock and taken into the boat shed. Now the boat shed is not quite so empty.

The view the crew has to endure!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Good Fishing Spot

Over the last few weeks a cormorant seems to have chosen Cotehele Quay as his favourite fishing spot and has been entertaining visitors and Shamrock's crew alike by regularly catching small flounders in the river Tamar just off the quay. Sometimes these are not so small and he has great difficulty in swallowing them even occasionally letting one go. After particularly heavy meals he can be spotted spreading his wings and resting on a fallen tree on the opposite river bank.

One that didn't get away. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

Tidy Boat Shed

With the half term 'freak week at Cotehele' from 24 - 28 October approaching the boat shed is having its annual tidy up with all items not required for the winter working period removed and stowed elsewhere. Thereby leaving plenty of space for the 'hands-on’ activities of the “on the quay” part of freak week. Once that is over and the boat shed swept out there will be plenty of space for storing and working on items removed from Shamrock during the winter de rigging process which is due to commence in November.

Shamrock's Engine Update

A Yanmar 75hp turbocharged marine diesel engine along with most of the ancillary items required for fitting it into Shamrock have been ordered. It looks like the crew is in for a busy winter.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

An Engine For Shamrock

After a successful year of fundraising and a couple of delays the go ahead has been given to purchase an engine for Shamrock. Once the engine is sourced it's planned to fabricate a metal engine bed which in turn will be bolted to Shamrock's frames on the starboard side of the aft cabin replacing the existing bunk. The idea of a metal engine bed is that it will be easy to remove if the engine is ever removed. Once in place the line of the propeller shaft and the position of the stern gland can be determined. Fitting of the stern gland and propellor shaft will be undertaken on a low tide while Shamrock is grounded. The shaft will need to be of sufficient length to enable the propellor to clear the hull, also to support the combined weight of the shaft and propeller a P bracket will need to be fitted to the after hull. This is plan 'A' but as with all of Shamrock's plans this can change.

After cabin starboard bunk.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Late Season Update

With the end of season approaching the crew made use of the unseasonable hot and sunny weather by setting Shamrock's main, mizzen and stay sails allowing them to get an airing before being dropped onto the quay, folded and finally stored in the boat shed for the winter. Her sail covers have been refitted to the spars and will remain there until Shamrock is de rigged sometime in November. The year’s final Nancy Belle river trip has been completed and planning has started with tide tables consulted in readiness for next year’s trips. Shamrock's workboat 'Edgcumbe' along with the mud buggy have been used to keep the crews feet out of the mud while they paint Shamrock's chain plates.

Setting Shamrock's sails.
Edgcumbe alongside.
Mud buggy ready for action.
River Tamar from Nancy Belle.
Finally with Shamrock's Skipper Shaune back after his operation the quay shall we say is not so quiet as it has been of late! Welcome back Shaune.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Shamrock's Pump

During Shamrock's restoration a tra­ditional cast iron sluice or diaphragm pump of a size suitable for Shamrock was located on a barge in a Southampton shipyard, but as it was buried under scrapped steel plates, and other gear from broken up vessels, there was no way of getting it off the vessel. However, the yard foreman promised that as soon as the plates and scrap were shipped out he would break the pump out of its seating and put it aside for Shamrock. Once the pump had been recovered, refurbished and restored to full working order it was fitted aft of the cargo hold hatch coaming, taking it's suction from the forward end of the after cabins bilges, in the autumn of 1979. Recently one eagle eyed visitor noticed that it was manufactured by George White & Sons, London, Ontario, Canada and wondered why a pump of British manufacture was not fitted? After some research a local connection was found in that George White who founded the company was born in Shute, Devon and he learned the blacksmith trade at his father's wagon-building shop. He emigrated to Canada with his young bride and eventually formed the company. The only thing the crew hopes is that it never needs to be used in earnest.

Shamrock's pump.
Ready for action.
Handle stowed.
Suction pipe.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Missing Muscovy Duck

A Muscovy duck (known as Quackers) who, for the last few months has come to regard himself as a member of Shamrock's crew and expects to be regularly fed has been missing for a few days. Normally he is waiting on the grass outside the boat shed for the first crew member to arrive or if he is a bit late will ether appear in the open boat shed door or peck at the door just to let you know that he is there. On one occasion when he was later than normal he appeared on the quay and made it clear to the crew working onboard Shamrock that he wanted feeding. The crew hopes that he reappears soon or has found somewhere else where he gets fed on a regular basis.

Monday, 15 August 2016


Shamrock has two tabernacles, a main and a mizzen, into which her respective masts are fixed and have a pivot near the top so that the masts can be lowered to pass under bridges.


The main tabernacle consisted of two oak cheek boards 11.5 cm (4.5 in) thick and 25 cm (10 in) wide, of a length to stand 1.07 metre (3 ft. 6 in) above the deck and reach down 1.52 metre (5 ft) to each side of the keelson, to which they are through bolted. The upper part of the boards are through-bolted to the for­ward (for’d) main cargo hatch beam. An oak cross­ piece, or cleat rail, is bolted on the fore edges of the cheeks 0.9 metre (3 ft.) above deck level with an iron mast band above it. Both cheeks are bored through their sides for a 5 cm (2 in) diameter steel pin upon which the mast pivots.

Main tabernacle


The mizzen tabernacle is of similar construc­tion, with 10 cm (4 in) thick cheeks which stand 0.9 metre (3 ft.) above the deck. The cheeks are bolted one each side of the keelson and to the forward (for’d) side of beam No.8, which also support the forward end of the deckhouse.

Mizzen tabernacle
Base bolted to the keelson.
The crew is quite happy that no low bridges that require lowering the masts have been encountered on any of Shamrock trips to date and hope it stays that way.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Quiet Boat Shed

With skipper Shaune away recovering from his successful hand operation, the visitor season is at its peak and with “Shamrock” being open for visitors most days the only work being carried out on the boat is the occasional pumping out and salting of her bilges. Plus, of course, keeping her shipshape for the visitors. The crew has noted that the boat shed seems remarkable quiet except for the couple of occasions that Shaune has managed to get a chauffeur and made an appearance. Nevertheless, many other little jobs are getting done in and around the shed.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

No Boat Rally

Due to Shamrock's skipper Shaune recovering after a planned minor operation, Shamrock will not be making an appearance at the “Sutton Harbour Plymouth Classic Boat Rally” this year.

There is better news though, the new fire pump has arrived to assist in the re-profiling of Shamrock's dock and slipway. It will soon be put through its paces as the last couple of weeks have seen a significant deposit of mud.

New and old.
Two weeks worth of mud!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Not Quite To Plan

With the river mud building up in Shamrock's dock and on her slipway it was time to get out the fire pump and re profile (wash out) the dock and clear her slipway. The plan of action being.

Day One
Clear the mud from the slipway.

Day Two
On the morning tide float Shamrock onto the slipway, let her ground on the falling tide and then clear the mud from her dock. This had not been tried before as normally when Shamrock is on her slipway she is sat on her cradle.

Day Three
Float Shamrock back over into her dock on the morning tide ready for the days visitors.

All went according to plan until the pump decided to stop working half way through clearing the dock out on day two. Shamrock was returned to her dock on day three only when the tide is out she sits higher on the mud than planned. On the positive side it did prove that Shamrock can be left on her slipway for the odd day as long as the next days tide is high enough to float her off. While she was sat in the slipway advantage was taken of the easer access to the main mast port chainplates with them being scraped clean and painted.

Waiting for the tide to drop.
Bottom check.
Back to normal.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Rainy Days

The crews summer Shamrock painting schedule has come to halt in the last few weeks due to the return of what is becoming normal summer weather, wet, overcast and with the occasional sighting of the sun. This has meant the clinker built "Mayflower" sailing dinghy has been receiving the crews attention with the outer hull being scrapped back to bare wood and then soaked with a saline solution to help preserve her. Some of her internal structures and fittings have been removed along with a start on the scraping of the inner hull. There is also a rumour that a couple more small boats are due to appear in the boat shed ready to receive the Shaune treatment.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Memory Lane

After venturing out of Perranwell Station, in deepest Cornwall, Gloria Butterworth decided to visit Shamrock. Gloria is the daughter of the Richard Curnow who was the sole owner of Shamrock from the 2nd May 1966 to the 28th April 1973 and also the last owner to use Shamrock commercially. After being given what could be described as VIP treatment, a cup of tea in the boat shed and a tour of Shamrock, Gloria left with a few souvenirs of her visit including a section of original Shamrock deck plank. The trade wasn't entirely one sided as she supplied the crew with a photo of her father and is going see if she can find anymore Shamrock related information. She plans to visit Shamrock on a more regular basis in future as this was her first visit since Shamrock's restoration.

Richard Curnow

Sunday, 29 May 2016

One More For The Collection

An early Skentelbery built clinker Mayflower Sailing dinghy has joined the collection of craft in the boat shed ready to be restored to her former glory. After spending the last 17 years in a garage a quick survey has revealed that she is reasonably sound. The first task will be the removal of the numerous layers of old varnish before a full assessment of what work is required and can be completed.  

Shamrock's planned visit to Saltash Regatta has been cancelled. The crew will now be concentrating on getting Shamrock shipshape for 'Sutton Harbour Plymouth Classic Boat Rally' at the end of July. To counteract any drop in moral a new notice has appeared on the boat shed crib room door.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Shamrock Cartoon

During Shamrock's handover weekend a cartoon of Shamrock's 1985 return passage from Dartmouth appeared in the boat shed along with photo of the intrepid crew. Some of the present crews time has been spent finding the cartoon characters in the photo.


After a hard physical days work this years rigging of Shamrock has finally been completed using her windlass* to help stow the anchor chain followed by the hanging of her anchor.

Not so empty cable locker.
Ready to be dropped.
*WINDLASS A special form of winch fitted in the bows to haul in the anchor-cable. Shamrock has a patent reefing windlass, heavily geared, with a 'gypsy' wheel patterned to fit the studded chain cable, which stows it self as it is heaved in.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Handover Day Review

Saturday 30th April was a great day with the National Maritime Museum handing over their Shamrock shares to the National Trust. Simon Stevens from the National Maritime Museum came from London to carry out the handover with Shamrock's “Ships Bell” being used as the symbol for this. The weather was good and Shamrock had over 350 visitors on board during the course of the day, it was great to see all the different families with the children having a great time doing the treasure hunt, flag making and the painting competition. The person who probably worked the hardest was the lady doing the face painting, it's reckon she must have painted at least 100 plus faces throughout the day.

 Dressed for visitors
Busy quay
'The Handover'

Finally a couple of different Shamrock photographs.