Friday, 19 December 2014


Well the London Metropolitan Archives pulled out the stops and my photo, ordered on Thursday, arrived the following Monday!  I had to ask permission to reproduce it here, but that did not take long. It shows a hoistable lantern close up (Photo 1 © Trinity House).

The construction of the 2 ton 13 cwt monster can be seen clearly and the crew member alongside gives a good impression of the size.  I assume that chain is for hauling the lantern up the mast by means of the manual (?) windlass at the bottom of the photo. Although those chains look fairly vertical, they cannot be. The windlass must be nearer to the camera than it looks so that the chains do not foul the lantern when it goes up. However, in all the photos I have of these lightships with hoistable lanterns, I can find no clear evidence of stout chains near the mast. I can see block and tackle arrangements such as on the Owers lightship (Photo2).

     I say this as a plural because there is one forward as well as the expected one aft. Perhaps it took two windlasses to hoist the monster aloft? Or perhaps these are nothing to do with the lantern – in which case where are the chains? 

   Incidentally, the Owers Station is off Selsey Bill and I gather that one lightship with the name Owers is now a wreck in Tel Aviv harbour. I don’t think it will be this one.

   The other question refers back to discussions we had on sails. I assume that is a furled sail stretching towards the lantern and, as it looks very straight, I assume it is around a spar/ boom. There does not appear to be any rigging keeping it up. It must be hanging (sorry, wrong term) from the mizen and possibly anchored (sorry, wrong term) to the main mast or superstructure near it, but I have never seen a sail in that position in any of the old photos. There have been photos of furled sails and just one unfurled (Photo 3) – all aft of the mizen. So come on you experts, what is going on?

   The renovation has picked up speed and the deck is now completely insulated and weather-proofed. The bow has never looked so good! (Photo 4).

    I know some of you will be wondering what that large blue tray is doing there. Well it’s where Molly – Simon’s dog – empties her bladder in between trips ashore. The observant amongst you will notice that it is slightly tilted by those green blocks. This is to encourage the effluent down to the bottom left corner where there is a gap in the surround. Although hidden by a hanging basket (of dead flowers) the gap is positioned over the starboard haws pipe …. need I say more?