Saturday, 5 September 2015

LIGHTSHIP CORMORANT / LADY DIXON - Chapter 112



Simon is gallivanting around Europe on a car rally at the moment, so nothing to report from him – except for the latest sinking of the good ship Ena (Photo 1121). 


Yes there is a ship down there – or what’s left of a ship. I would not be at all surprised if this time it’s terminal. I think the attempts to dry dock her have been abandoned and she will eventually be sold to the scrappers. This was what Cormorant was heading for two years ago, before Simon found her. 
    Ena, is/was an interesting sailing barge – she was built in 1906 and was originally a small boomie before being converted to a sprittie – and she’s also a registered Dunkirk little ship. In 2002 the TV program Salvage Squad did an extensive restoration and actually had her sailing.  In 2011 she was up for sale (on eBay!!) starting at £85,000, I don’t know whether she sold, but she has been going downhill/ underwater ever since. What a waste! I am glad Simon saved Cormorant from such a fate, in spite of the huge amount of work and investment involved.
     In tracing Cormorant’s evolution, I am faced with a big gap between 1908 and 1943. Her early years are reasonably clear – she lost her foremast around the end of the century (the 18th century!) and had her hoistable lantern replaced by a fixed one by 1908. Up to this point in time she did not have a deckhouse, although similar vessels (Guillemot, Gull, Petrel and Seagull) had deckhouses of various sizes ranging from about 1/5 to 1/3 of the ship’s length. From 1908 to 1943 I have absolutely nothing – no photos, sketches or documentation – so I have no idea what state she was in when the Belfast Harbour Commissioners bought her from the Commissioners for Irish Lights. Tony Lane thinks she had a 10m deckhouse at some stage (the current living room), which was moved and supplemented by a similar sized addition (the current kitchen), probably in the 1943 reconstruction. Since then small alterations have been made by the various owners, but the basic size and shape has remained the same. As Tony has said, Simon is lucky to have such a large deckhouse to make use of.
    Tony also reckons that the basic structure of the ship follows quite closely the 17-page specification, drawn up for the Commissioners for Irish Lights in 1880 by Joshua Cole, Com. R.N., Alex. F. Boxer and W. Douglass. (Photo 1122). 

    From his visit to the ship in 2000, Tony has also come up with a photo of the bulwarks (Photo 1123) on the port side as they were then (where did it all go?). 


The rail seems in reasonable order, but appearances can be so deceptive, especially where woods (and old cars!) are concerned. Tony also sent me a very good photo of the ship in Belfast Lough as Lady Dixon (Photo 1124).


Where would we be without such stalwarts?
David