Friday, 25 December 2015


Simon is here for Christmas, so we have been able to talk through things (many things!) about the ship. I have done a mock-up of the stanchions for him (Photo 1281) and, having seen the sample bracket, Simon is happy that they will do the job.  When painted with the same dark paint as the bulwark and stanchions, the brackets will ‘disappear’. 

   Looking forward to Spring, Simon is determined to get going below deck. Ideally it will all be de-rusted and spray-sealed by the time Summer arrives.
     So now, for 2015 at least, it’s goodbye from Santa Claus me (I did not have access to a fancy dress shop) ….. 

and it’s goodbye from him (he didn’t need a fancy dress shop!). 

Saturday, 19 December 2015


My historical research has been virtually moribund lately.  I have only two irons in the fire – or rather two straws in the wind !
   I have a reader in New Zealand whose great uncle served on Irish lightships. If the old chap agrees, I will go across to Ireland to meet him and try to record some of his memories of that service.  Such memories should not be allowed to just fade away. I don’t suppose for a minute that he served aboard Cormorant – but you never know.
   David Ryan, who helped me so much on my visit to Dublin, has passed on the name of a contact in the National Archives over there. He apparently works with maritime records, so there may be some digging to do there. Perhaps I could meet up with the great uncle and the archivist on the same trip.
   On the preservation front, besides acquiring a sample of the rope/rail clamp (see last post), I have also bought a sample of a contender for the stanchion brackets.  They are galvanised brackets with one arm 10”;  one arm 12”; and are quite substantial, weighing about 1.5 lb a piece (Photo 1271).  

   Each stanchion will have to have a bespoke fitting as not only is the bulwark a bit ‘irregular’, the ship was made slightly banana-shaped to assist drainage. So it slopes down from bow to amidships and then rises to the stern.  They managed in 1878, so there is no reason we cannot manage in 2016.
    I did think Simon was going to have the ship dressed overall for Christmas. Well he has managed to string up some festive lights (Photo 1272), but night time photography is obviously not his strong point!

A Happy Christmas to all our readers.

Saturday, 12 December 2015


Well, no ideas from anyone yet.  I have found another candidate for securing the ‘rail-rope’. It is normally used for holding soil pipes (Photo 1261).  

I doubt if it will take the load if someone falls against the rail, so it may be necessary to install another taught wire just below the rope (Photo 1262), although I am hoping that one of you will come up with a better solution!

Meanwhile, Simon has not been idle. He has acquired a trailer-full of oil-based paint (Photo 1263) which, if nothing else, can be used as undercoat all over the ship!


Saturday, 5 December 2015


Just a brief report this week, following on from the bit on rails last time. Obviously the rope rail will not provide the leaning on and admiring the horizon type facility, but will help to stop people falling overboard. From both a safety and an aesthetic viewpoint there is a need for some sort of secondary rail between the deck and the rope rail. We did think of another rope rail, but it would have to be fixed inboard or outboard of the stanchions, which would look a bit odd. A taught wire going through the stanchions would be unobtrusive and would lend strength to the whole structure (Photo 1251).

We have found some galvanised shelf brackets which look man enough to support the new stanchions and will avoid having to cut, bend, drill and paint 105 flat steel strips! Fixing the rope to the top of each stanchion is not so easy. I found a pipe clamp in a plumbing shop (Photo 1252) but it looks a bit flimsy.  Any ideas anyone?


Saturday, 28 November 2015


Well Simon has had a go with the compressor and nail chisel gun. “Quite arm-aching” he reports – well I did warn him. I think he should import some labour for this particular job. If he can find someone who could do two or three hours on two or three days per week (even Samson couldn’t last more than three hours at a stretch !) it might all be ready for spraying when the warm weather returns next Spring. I assume the surfaces have to be dry when sprayed.
    Meanwhile a spell in dry dock will be better during warm, dry weather, so will probably take place after the below deck spraying next year. Looking at those composite pictures in the 14 November post, I was wondering if a normal tide will lift the ship out of that deep mud hole. No problem. I calculate that the mud hole is about 5ft deep and the difference between high and a low tide is over 15ft at Hoo.
   So, something to get on with – the stanchions around the deck are a mixed bunch (Photo 1241). 

There should be about 50 of them, but 20 or so are missing, 15 need replacing and a dozen are OK. Simon is thinking of steel boxes fabricated with base plates (Photo 1242). 

    If all surfaces were true and in good condition that would work, but all that welding would be expensive.  Easier to fabricate, adjust and fit would be angle brackets (Photo 1243) and they would be a lot cheaper. 

     On the historical side, I am trying to establish where Cormorant/Lady Dixon sits on the timeline. I am sure she is one of just a handful of ‘composite’ ships still afloat (Cutty Sark is ‘composite’ but not afloat). She may also be the oldest Irish Lightship still afloat, but I will be happy to hear of other contenders for the title.