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.