Sunday, 31 August 2014


To continue the subject of ‘lights’.  Looking for more fixed ports or portholes in the deckhouse to correspond with the nine BL circles on the blueprints, I can find only the two obvious ones close together on the starboard side, each with its torpedo vent above it. Not surprisingly these illuminated and vented two toilets (Master and Pilots only!). However, there are a number of portholes/ fixed ports down near deck level in the coaming, each with a protective hinged cover. 

Now I thought this a strange place to have ‘windows’, but the clue is in their label –  BL (Borrowed Lights).
Eskimosailor sent me a helpful fact that a window between two internal spaces is often called a borrowed light.  In this case however, things are a little more convoluted. My theory is that these low ports let daylight into the deckhouse at a low level – near the deck – and set into the deck under the ports are deadlights, probably of a letterbox shape as Simon still has two of these. One is a double square made by Hayward and is probably older than the rectangular one.

I would think these transmitted more ‘borrowed’ light below deck than the grapefruit squeezer type.

The Pilots had six BLs in their quarters; the Engineers had one; and the machinery room had two. The crew’s quarters had the two 5” DLs and the officers had one (Simon tells me he does have the third grapefruit squeezer, but it is badly chipped). The 8” DL must have been a handsome piece of glass and has been ‘souvenired’!  By a grapefruit fanatic??  If anyone out there comes across an 8” version of the squeezer, Simon would love to hear about it.
Meanwhile, I have still found no information, let alone photos of Cormorant before she was converted in 1943, apart from where and when she was built and her dimensions………

Friday, 29 August 2014


I stumbled (literally) over an unidentified feature on the ship last weekend. Basically it is a hole in the deck just aft of the forward companionway. Simon has always had it covered with a metal plate, so I had not noticed it before. Removing the plate revealed a properly constructed circular hole, which would have been level with the teak deck when there was a teak deck. It is not sturdy enough to support a mast, so I guessed at ventilation. 

Back home I got out the blueprints and had a close look at that area. I found a circle with the label ‘8” DL’.  Nearby were two other circles, both labelled ‘5” DL’.

These two holes gave me the answer. On page 23 of Anthony Lane’s book Guiding Lights, are two photos of ‘Deadlights’ which were glass blocks set into the main deck to allow light to penetrate the darker spaces below. It even states that the examples shown come from the ex-Irish Light vessel Cormorant.  Sure enough, Simon has two 5” glass blocks which are shaped rather like grapefruit squeezers and fit nicely into two holes near the deckhouse . 

 Unfortunately there is no trace of the 8” glass. From the plans I saw that the 8” DL illuminated the crew’s mess area and the two 5” DLs illuminated their quarters. There is one other 5” DL on the starboard side, to illuminate the officers’ quarters (no glass unfortunately).  Perhaps illuminate is too strong a word, but then two 5” DLs and the 8” hole certainly provide enough light down there to enable you to move around.

While studying the blueprints I came across several other labels. Along both sides of the deckhouse there are several ‘T.V.’ items and their shape on the plan is that of fixtures which are still in place.  These, according to the blueprints, are ‘Torpedo Vents’. Why are they double ended?

There are about a dozen circles marked along the deckhouse walls, but only two portholes on the ship (that is one of them below the TV). However, most of them (not these two) are labelled ‘BL’ and this turns out to mean ‘Borrowed Light’. Because I have reached my maximum number of photos allowed per post, I will explain this next time.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


We have just returned from a long weekend with Simon on …… we had better settle on the name of this vessel. Originally Cormorant; then Lady Dixon; later Lady December; and now registered with National Historic Ships UK (and the Post Office) as The Lightship. The family name of The Beast becomes less appropriate as Simon’s work starts to bear fruit.
   He certainly looks the part these days, with a ‘full set’ and nautical cap.

  Behind him is the almost finished kitchen, which is looking really good. (Photo)

    He now has a kitchen table, right foreground and between it and the spiral staircase are two log-burners and the 70s kitchen stove, (Photos) all to be installed in the next few weeks – the stove roughly where it is near the table, a modern log-burner in the sitting room to replace the decrepit one he inherited and the ‘barrel’ below deck to start drying out that area ready for the huge amount of work which is going to be necessary. 

    Also in that ‘temporary’ storage area is a desk for the study and a sideboard for the dining room. I say temporary because both locations are below deck and the huge amount of work needed down there will take months! Buying such items next year would have been sensible, but he cannot resist a bargain! All this is of course a natural dumping ground for tools and  miscellaneous items which have no home at the moment!
The spiral staircase is now trimmed and looking very smart. It just needs one piece of balustrade on the right behind the cactus when the desk etc departs below. (Photo)

    Meanwhile nature is trying its best to introduce a little colour on the stern. (Photo)

Sunday, 17 August 2014


This snippet is not about Simon’s ship, but I thought you readers would be interested (and saddened?) to learn of the fate of such vessels when they are neglected.  Down in S Wales on the River Neath (or should I say in the River Neath?)  LV32 is a sad sight, with high tides washing over her decks, below decks full of silt and rust eating away at her..

Nearer to home, a lovely old vessel – the good ship Ena – on the same causeway as Simon’s ship, has for a long time been struggling to stay afloat, with bilge pumps going almost full time.  Now the battle is lost as the pumps are no longer coping/working and there seems to be nobody interested enough to do anything.

 Presumably the owner is paying the mooring fees, a cheaper alternative perhaps than doing something about it, but not a good advertisement for a Marina!

Thursday, 7 August 2014


As my historical research is in the doldrums, I keep busy with yet another restoration process (look out, thread wander coming!). My little Austin 7 won a prize at a local car show over the weekend – for the best personal restoration! (Photo). Why does it come up sideways?

 I prefer to drive my cars rather than park and exhibit, but a friend was organising it and I wanted to support him. It was an Morris Minor affair, but I was happy to add a little tone! Sorry, I have to include before and after pics (Photos).

    Meanwhile, back to the thread. Simon is putting the finishing touches to the spiral staircase, trimming the hole in the deck and installing the first of the safety railings (Photo).  He has also finished the floor tiling and has been able to install the kick panels under the units. Looking smarter each time!