Wednesday, 14 October 2015

LIGHTSHIP CORMORANT / LADY DIXON - Chapter 117



I have been without the internet and telephone now for 10 days, so this week’s post is actually last week’s – thanks BT !!
   Three days last week were spent down with Simon working on the ship. I had expected to be helping him lay that very large seagrass carpet I delivered to him a few weeks ago but, taking advantage of the good weather, he shifted all the furniture out onto the deck and laid it himself before we arrived. It looks very good (Photo 1171).

   My main task was much more basic – and dirty!  I used the air compressor and nail chisel gun to strip an area below deck. Much of the crud is old, peeling paint (Photo 1172) and this comes off fairly easily.


 It is arm–aching work, especially trying to reach into corners when the step ladder cannot be moved closer. In overalls, a bobble hat, face mask and goggles, it is also warm work! Of course there is a lot of rust down there too, but the aim is to get off the loose stuff and leave a firm surface (Photo 1173). 

    The plan is to spray these surfaces with insulating foam (the sort that is used to ‘fix’ tiles and insulate roofs), wherever there is contact with the outside shell. This will also reduce condensation.  Not having any spray foam, I painted it with Hammerite to keep it stable until everything is ready down there for a complete job (Photo 1174). 

     Meanwhile, Tony Lane, who visited Simon a few weeks ago, is puzzling over a number of things he found. I let him have copies of the 1943 blueprints to study and he has been comparing them to photos of the ship at her Belfast station. The plans seem to show the anchor windlass mounted on the poop (what anchor can you lift there?), whereas the pictures of Lady Dixon have the windlass mounted right up on the bow over the hawse pipes.  I can only guess that, with no need of the huge anchor chains which were standard when stationed out on the ocean, in the sheltered Belfast Lough she would need only normal anchors and the windlass on the poop was used for hoisting stores aboard.
    Tony also noticed from the photos (not on the plans) an interesting purchase or preventer hung off the bowsprit, which would take some of the load off the mooring cable and reduce jerking if the water was rough and also reduce the strain on the windlass brakes.
   Finally (an apt introduction) it looks as though Ena is getting ready for her final journey Photo 1175). 

The tide is coming in and the hearse (dry dock) has arrived alongside, but Ena will stay sitting on the mud until they can get her to float one more time. Then the dock will be sunk; Ena moved to a position above it; when the tide next goes out she will sink onto the dock; the dock will be drained and made watertight; then the next tide will lift them both; and it’s off to the graveyard. That’s the theory anyway!

David