Thursday was the day for moving the barge, so they were joined by Skipper Ian Ruffles and Mate Denis Johnson. The short version of this task’s description is that you let the barge drift backwards off the pontoon while controlling the drift with the thick mooring warps (ropes) and then, when the bow is clear, put the helm over so that she slides sideways in the current till she’s line up with the other side of the pontoon, and then winch her back up against the tide using the dolly line. Needless to say it’s not as simple as that and there’s a lot of preparing by, for example, hauling the barge-boat inboard, then nipping about letting go one rope and making fast another, setting ropes up so they do not tangle on bits of pontoon, fending the barge off the sharp corners of the pontoon and, of course, heckling Ops Manager Rob Bassi (red overalls) on the pontoon. Also hauling up the anchor, taking the outboard back off the boat and squaring away ropes etc at the end.
In this, a pic from Jason A, on deck (l to r) are Denis Johnson (admiring the view while dangling a fender ‘bladder’), Skipper Ian Ruffles keeping an eye on things and issuing instructions, Dad taking up some slack on the big yellow and black warp and Dave Brooks giving it some on the dolly line, a surprisingly strong but thin cord. Looking at it, you’d not think it could start a 90+ ton barge into forward progress against a 3-4 knot tide flow, but it did with Dave leaning on the windlass. All good clean fun!
Thursday night had Dad and Dave B heading for Hoo Marina to see if they could find and photograph the only known Galway Hooker in Kent, Ray Rush's 'An Dreoilín' (The Wren) and to visit Dave's barge-model builder father, Tony.
That brings us to Friday and the end of a nice break. Dad repacks his stuff, retrieves the Seat Ibiza from the PLA car-park and returns it to Hertz in Gatwick, grabs a breakfast in one of the cafés and waits to be called to his gate for the flight home. Mum brings me to Knock to meet Dad so we can all have a happy excited re-union. Brilliant holidays!