Saturday, 9 April 2016


You learn something new every day.  I thought that ‘caulking’ a ship was just stuffing tarred rope into the cracks between boards. It’s a lot more complicated than that!  To start with you have to remove what is left of the old stuff and that involves running an angle grinder along the gaps plus a bit of sanding. Then, to stop gaps closing up and boards perhaps shifting, pegs are driven into the gaps at intervals (Photo 1431).   

Hessian rope is twisted into a series of ‘figure of eight’ and then forced into the gaps. Red lead paint is applied because putty comes next and the paint stops the hessian rope sucking the oil out of the putty (Photo 1432).   

The whole lot is then covered with tar-soaked hessian sheet which protects the copper plating (the flattened domestic hot water tanks!).  Then the large bolts which hold everything together have to be supplemented, or even replaced (some have crumbled to dust).
    Another large vessel has been brought into the dry dock and is of great interest to Simon because it is having its insides coated with the foam insulation which Simon wants to use on his ship. It certainly transforms the look of old structures and walls (Photo 1433). Simon has of course made contact.

    Meanwhile I am chasing details of Lady Dixon’s brief career as a pirate radio ship. In particular I am trying, through contacts in N Ireland and the USA, to find out who bought her from G.A. Lee and Co of Belfast in 1961 and how she ended up in the Thames Estuary belonging to John Thompson/Arnold Swanson. Then, when they abandoned the enterprise, who bought her and where she went.  She was reported as being owned at some stage by Peter Horlock and moored at Mistley on the River Orwell in England. Actually, Mistley is on the River Stour, not the Orwell, which does not help my investigation! Does anyone know Mr Horlock?

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