Tuesday 2 August 2011

The sun is splitting the stones

The sun is splitting the stones. It's too hot to do any work, for definite. A little bit of laundry is all we achieve. Our dog walk is through the coolth of the cemetery under all the trees. We retreat indoors for Dad to do some secretarial stuff for the allotments on the computer - reminder letters to tenants that they are, in fact, expected to cultivate the ground we rent to them, for example.

While out in the car taking that stuff round to the Allotments Chairman (actually a lady, Sandra) he gets all distracted and ends up down on the Cambria looking to get some up to date, fully rigged, photo's, and what do you know, Master Shipwright Tim Goldsack is about to take her the 300 yards or so upstream to turn her round and, as ever, he can use an extra hand manning the fenders. How could Dad refuse?

It's a narrowish waterway and the barge, weighing 70 tonnes or so could do a fair amount of damage even at low speed, so they use a small tug to tow her and turn her but they like to have blokes lowering huge rubber bladders (fenders) down the side between any part of the hull and any piece of encroaching scenery, yachts, piers etc. As it happens Dad is able to play just in the nick of time hero.

The barge is far enough upstream and the tug, still attached to the bow scoots round to the left under the stem intending to put some reverse thrust on her to bring her to a stop, but at an angle so that the bow swings round in a 'handbrake' turn style swing and does not hit the left bank. It's a big concrete wall and we are bearing down rather fast on house No 20 with it's waterfront view... looming over the house, in fact. The tug takes up the slack and PTOINGGGG!, the rope detaches from the tug's hook.

Now we are gliding towards the wall under no control. Dad leaps for'd with his big fender on his rope, then swings and lowers it as far as he can down the stem, round the anchor, just in time. The barge stem grabs the fender and squishes it till Dad is sure it must burst, but she slows, stops and bounces back, just when everyone on deck, who couldn't see whether Dad had made it or not, is expecting a sickening crunch and some damage to either wall or barge. Relief all round! My Daddy is the hero of the hour!

Of course, this is all in a day's work to barge blokes, so they just re-attach the rope and use the 'bounce' to continue the stern round and then start the bow moving downstream, completing the turn, then gliding Cambria back intio Standard Quay alongside SB Beric, where she started.

Oh, and then Dad came home and knocked together some salmon en croute parcels for John, Diamond and old 'Walt' who are round tonight for supper.

A man of many talents


1 comment:

Mr Silverwood said...

OK, he seems to be really taking to this easy life stuff very seriously indeed.