Friday, 28 January 2011

Good times bad times

The boat move to the mooring did not go to plan. The idea was to get the boat towed at a high high tide onto its mooring. However, the high high tide was only 13ft5 and the boat draft at the moment is about 12ft6. Bugger. So they did not move it. The risk is that if they try and get it wrong there is a 600 ton ship left in the main marina channel and nobody at all would be able to go in or out.

So what next? Well the good news is there is 80 tons of seawater in the diesel tanks. It would have to have been pumped out (at my expense) eventually. But because they are obliged to get the boat on the mooring as part of the deal (and cos they are nice guys) they are pumping out the tanks for me. That will raise the boat a ft or so and should enable it to get into its new home.

The funny news next. I have studied the full set of drawings of the boat for some time now and just about identified where everything is. But I have been unable to find where the grey water tanks are (for those non boat people that is the tanks that hold the sewage). So a friend of mine did a look around the boat last week and followed the pipes from the toilet. Down through the floor, into the cabin ceilings below. Then across the ceiling into the cabin wardrobe. Then, out through the side of the hull.

Yep. You got it. Raw sewage out of the toilet and right through a hole in the side of the hull. Fine when you are in the middle of the Irish sea but not so fine for my new neighbours who may be walking along the pontoon to their boat when they are surprised by yesterday's dinner shooting out at head height from a hole in the side of my boat.

Me thinks I might need to fit some new plumbing. Happy days.

The other news is that I managed to get into the optics last week and they all look fine.

The CIL were kind enough to send me a copy of the contract for repairs undertaken in 2004. Complete repaint. Very useful. Also they changed all the HALON for FM200 which means the boat fire systems are legal. Another relief. Lots of extras I did not realise are still on board. More of the systems are still there than anticipated. Also found the manuals for the Lister generators.

Can't wait to get onboard in a few weekends. All prepared. Power, lights, ladders and most of the suppliers lined up. Its going to be a great summer!

Friday, 14 January 2011



Here are some better pics of the generators. Quality not great but it was completely dark and these are taken with phone with very very small flash.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Lightship 95

Today I visited Lightship 95 at Trinity Wharf (opposite the Millennium Dome). They have converted it into a recording studio. So for those of you having trouble imagining what one of these ships looks like when converted take a look here at their web site gallery. They have done a great job. Its always interesting to see the contrast of these boats (not just lightships) between what they look like externally and what people do with them internally.

Its always good to talk. Managed to get some good tips on paint jobs and also a company that sells salvage a reproduction ships 'stuff' like portals etc. Trinity Marine.

More news on the systems in Gannet. I spent Saturday looking through the set of manuals I discussed in the previous blog. It turns out that a number of the companies that provided and maintained these systems are still going. I have contacted one already (who produced the original 'ship adrift' system based on DOS 3 PC which basically was connected to an early GPS and monitored the ship's position in case it drifted off (lost anchor). It would then send the alarm to shore.

The mooring for the ship is being prepared. Not the original position but one that is good enough for the time being. Hopefully we can get it moored soon so I can get on board and interested parties can come and see quite how insane a project I have taken on. But don't worry, there will be no painting parties!

I have been thinking what to do with the ship for some time now. Originally I was going to strip it out, make the rooms bigger (remove bulkheads etc) and strip out all the old kit. But I am going to compromise (try). I intend to modernize the interior, put in plasterboard and modern fittings, possibly underfloor heating, new bathrooms etc) but as features keep all the old equipment in place and hopefully working.

For example, the windlass room. Originally the windlass (this is the thing in the picture that pulls the anchor chains to raise and lower the anchor) was out on deck. When the ship was brought in for automation they built around it. My original idea was to remove it. But to do this would cost an arm and a leg as the room was built around it. So plan is to restore it to working order order, remove any rust and paint it and have it as a feature of a modern done out room.

A few more portholes to enable some more daylight and insulate the walls, some plasterboard, modern wiring and a unique dining chill out room is created.

The 2 story chain room is the next challenge, Its both a big space and an awkward one as it is a box which would either may two floors with low ceilings or a big room box shaped. The temptation is to do both. Put in a mezanine floor over part of it and open up the entire lower area. The area under the mezzanine would make an excellent 'cinema' space or the whole thing converted into a two floor mezzanine master bedroom with ensuite under the mezz.

There are two other main rooms (ignoring the original crews suite of rooms). The radio room which is quite big with all the equipment, some storage rooms (only accessible from deck at the moment but with some cutting to bulkheads is easily solved) and the main 'bridge' which has the most light (see picture left). The bridge would make an excellent second lounge (as well as the original) or dining room (accepting the challenge of getting up the stairs with food, but again, a not insurmountable problem). A nice place to sit and eat in summer as it has a door to the top deck outside and is the right size for a table to seat 8 to 10 (about the number of people who could stay in the crew cabins).

The equipment room is probably the right place to have an office. A good size, the control gear on the wall would not be a problem and again, it is on the upper deck so will good light.

There is lots to think about and it is quite exciting to be able to undertake this whole project. As I joked with a friend, if I can get the systems working in the boat and the control gear working then it will be a simple job to have it computer controlled and potentially from my iphone. The idea that I can switch on the generators and the heating from the mobile phone before going to the boat may be a gadget which is too hard to resist.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Lucky Find

The inspection went well. Spent about an hour on board looking mostly at the equipment. I was lucky enough to find a box of 5 folders and several hundred pages of manuals. They at the complete set of electrical system manuals for everything on board, including the printed circuit board layouts. Its quite a find. Its all there, wiring diagrams, diagnostics, cable runs, the lot. Absolute god send.

The down side of being left in the ship is that they were completely wet through and all stuck together. A long weekend of drying though has recovered nearly all of it. The only thing missing was 3 or 4 drawings which were blank as the CAD drawings were not printed on the same paper and ink as the rest of the manuals.

What is interesting is what was originally on board.

The whole ship functioned from radio signals. It had a GPS system, a modem, a CPU board run from Motorola 6808. The ship still has an intruder detection system and a fire suppression system (gas). All automated. All the fog horn and lamp systems appear to be on board still and the windlass motors are all still there. Pretty much its a functioning light ship.

Its all crude old fashioned technology. Fascinating stuff. Even the generators ran automatically.

Can't wait to get on board and start putting it all back together.

Fog horn controls

Fire suppression controls

Power systems

All the pipes in the ship are coloured to make them easier to trace through the ship.

Saturday, 1 January 2011


The countdown has started. Off to see the boat for final inspection tomorrow before completing the deal next week. I say inspect, but short of there being a huge hole in it I will be happy. I am really just wanting to get on board again for another look around.

I have even bought an uber torch for the day as the last visit resulted in a gazing into a lot of dark places. I now have a torch that can be seen from the moon.