Building a 1920/1930's Style Barge
We started building "Saul Nomad" in 2002. The Fit-out began in 2004. The ship was finished in 2005...and most of the shots below are as she is in 2013. We have become a sort of Boating Blog...a kind of World View from the Wheelhouse! We have found a perfect spot in Aigues-Mortes, and there is currently not alot of cruising going on! However living on a boat, does not prevent you from having to work on your ship whenever it is needed. You neglect your lady at your peril! You are welcome to visit us. Aigues-Mortes is a great place to base yourself to tour the Camargue.
The Camargue (Occitan: Camarga in classical norm or Camargo in Mistralian norm) is the region located south of Arles, France, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhône River delta. The eastern arm is called the Grand Rhône; the western one is the Petit Rhône.
Administratively it lies within the département of Bouches-du-Rhône, the appropriately named "Mouths of the Rhône", and covers parts of the territory of the communes of Arles - the largest commune in Metropolitan France, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer - the second largest - and Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône. A further expanse of marshy plain, the Petite Camargue (little Camargue), just to the west of the Petit Rhône, is in the département of Gard.
Camargue was designated a Ramsar site as a "Wetland of International Importance" on December 1, 1986.
We were recently delighted and honoured (chuffed as hell!) to spot a photo of "Saul Nomad" on page 94 of Imray's 2008 print of the "Bristol Channel and Severn Cruising Guide". This cruising guide is updated every 15-20 years. The picture is circa 2003, during engine trials, and before our fitout at Tommy Nielsen's yard. It is definitely before our "shakedown" cruise to Ilfracombe in July 2003, where the mast shown had a coming together with the Sharpness lifting bridge...and came off worst! The current mast is a bit shorter, but more practical for loading.
(the above two images are Imray copyright.) Our hull fabricator, R.W. Davis & Son Ltd, is on the immediate right.
If you have a query about any aspect of your boat, or any boating matter, please email us below. Please do not bang on about things, I am doing enough about that already!
Tel: 0033(0)689 18 58 42 email: email@example.com
Our free two cents worth will come back to you by return!
...of course with our usual accuracy, this one was taken in 2007! Apart from the sad departure of the jetski on the stern, "Saul Nomad" still looks the same.
The Master Cabin in 2012. This is exclusively reserved for visitors.
...with ensuite shower and vacuum toilet.
The Mid-Ship Cabin with two bunks. Reserved for visitors or crew.
...with it's adjoining shower bathroom. It has a 300mm "Drench" shower head, for the afficionado's.
The Skipper's stern cabin, with shower/W.C. ensuite.
The galley in July 2005. It is not always (Never!) as tidy of this! I am a keen cook, and I like to have "things" out...this is my excuse anyway!
The wheelhouse. We are moored in St Katherine's Haven, next to the Tower of London, in August 2005.
Aigues-Mortes, and another Tower, in 2008. We returned in the Spring of 2007, having first visited in 2005...en route to Port Camargue..
...But this is the story of our build!
Up to the 31st December 2012, we have had a total of 7,410,741 hits on this website since we started in 2002! Up to to the 22nd May 2013 a further 288,013 of you have visited us. Our running total therefore is now 7,698,754 (Figures provided by our web host, netbenefit.com). The whole thing is a mystery to me, but a pleasure none the less!
Anyway, thanks everybody for your continuing interest in our humble offerings of "gateaux avec les fruits", and we hope that our ever more tedious..almost weekly additions.. are keeping you suitably entertained! Politically I am liberal conservative who belirdeves in the theories of Bastiat and his "Parable of the Broken Window", but I must confess that some of the other mob do get me going in a bad way!
As Margaret Thatcher pointed out,“The problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.”
I am not a "Guido Fawkes" either, but I do enjoy his blog. Especially because it is one of the few organs that have not been infiltrated by the 21st Century's version of the Freemasons. I refer to the lefty liberal inclined "Common Purpose Organisation", who seem to have a disturbing number of alumni amongst the British ruling classes. They range from the Director General of the BBC to the Rotherham head of Social Services (who pronounced that UKIP party supporters were not fit to foster children!). Common sense I have not. Consequently most of my pronouncements should be taken with a pinch of gazoil!
So dear Dorothy, you must get ready to travel! Gather "Toto" into your arms, it is going to be a while before you return to Kansas City!
CATCH OUR LATEST NEWS IN THE "2013 Lucky for Some", which gives a glimpse of the life and times of "un batard anglais" in France.
"SAUL NOMAD" on her mooring at Saul Junction - September 2003
Dad and I decided a number of years ago to build a 1920/1930's Style Barge to cruise the European Canal and River system. It would be suitable for commercial charter. A proper working boat. We did not want to build a poor British Replica of a what is known as in the United Kingdom as a Dutch Barge. However sometimes rather rudely described by the Dutch as an "English Bucket"! The Dutch profess to be guru's of barge building. It has enabled them to unload a shedload of Luxemotors with wafer thin metal hulls to the gullible Brits. Original Luxemotors do look pretty, but you have to ask yourself one question. Why would such sharp traders as the Dutch want to sell them off, and build their own barges in Poland? "Saul Nomad's" definitive layout would probably not pass the Dutch anorak test, but it had to be pleasing to my eye. I joined the Barge Association, (The Barge Association - www.barges.org ) and have found it most helpful. (It used to be called the D.B.A. and affectionately called the "Dim Buggers Association".) However their Magazine "The Blue Flag" is a font of information written by experienced Barge owners, and their website discussion pages - occasionally lively and always very interesting. Bargees like Barges are all fairly unique, and you can pick up many different "best" ideas - even on the same subject. I have soaked up as much as possible and come to my own conclusions. (Admittedly, and in retrospect, not always the correct ones!) We have aimed at Continental cruising because we feel that it will be some years before many of the current improvements to our native system bear fruit.
Mon Pere aged 92.
1970's. My Mater dressed for Dinner on a P&O Cruise.
My Father, George, sadly passed away aged 93 in October 2003 after a short illness. He was a retired International Water Engineer, and had lived in Ramsey, Isle of Man, since 1987. In 1947 he was appointed Baghdad Water Engineer. By the time he left ten years later Iraq had drinking water to European Standards. Whatever happened during thirty five years of Baath Socialist rule? During his retirement he wrote "Basic Water Treatment" which is a world standard reference for supplying drinking water. A hot topic these days, and the text book is required reading on University Engineering courses world wide. It is a shame that he will not get to enjoy the fruits of our labour, because he loved travelling and particularly cruising somewhere warm! Some of his last words to me were that although he would miss the cruising, it was possible that he would be somewhere warm! (Highly unlikely in my opinion, but he had an excellent sense of humour!).
Shipping has been in our family for over two hundred years. In the 18th Century there were Druitts who were Thames lightermen. Reginald Druitt OBE, my maternal grandfather, was freight manager of Furness Withy, with 1500 ships under his control during WWll. My Uncle, Clifford Druitt, was a member of the Baltic Exchange and a Freeman of the City of London.
There has been abit of Politics in the family. My great grandfather, Samuel Smethurst, acted as Winston Churchill's political agent when WSC successfully became the Conservative Member of Parliament for Oldham in 1900. They remained friendly for many years afterwards, even though Winston had a major fallout with the Conservative Party over Free Trade in 1904. He crossed the floor to join the Liberals, who supported it. Now we call it "Globalisation" which I have a vague idea is currently more of a Tory aspiration, than a Liberal one! I am greatful to Allen Packwood for the following from his piece on Churchill and Oldham.
"It is not clear why Churchill embraced Free Trade so wholeheartedly. In part it must have been principle. But it also provided him with a cause to champion, and a useful means of getting noticed within the House of Commons. In Oldham it quickly led to a breach with the majority of his own supporters. By 1903 the grass roots of the Conservative Party were clearly lining up behind Chamberlain, and Oldham was no exception. In August 1903 the Marlborough Conservative Club, in the Clarkesfield Ward on Pitt Street East, passed a resolution protesting against Churchill's conduct "in committing himself to a hostile attitude towards the Fiscal Reform Scheme." And in December Churchill and Earl Lytton appear to have been physically prevented from addressing a meeting at the North Chadderton Conservative Club. The general secretary subsequently sent an apology for this "uncourteous treatment" which he blamed on "a few of the least intelligent members, simply the riff raff of the club."
The matter had come to a head in October when the Oldham Conservative Association had reacted angrily to a letter by Churchill in which he described Joseph Chamberlain as a "quack." Samuel Smethurst, vice chairman of the local association and one of Churchill's few supporters within the party, wrote that his letter "seems to have had the effect of a spark laid to gunpowder" and added, "Frankly I think your chance now at the next election seems small, and if you are to find your platform it will have to be on the Liberal side."
I had in my possesion a couple of dozen private letters between them. I donated them to the Churchill Archives, Cambridge, in 2005.
In these days, someone on the UK minimum wage earns more in three days, than a Chinese worker making Apple IPads does in a month. It highlights the difficulty of creating private sector jobs in the western economies.
I am John (67), who spent 35 years in the fashion industry. I have one long suffering older sister, Lorna. I spent many years pursuing my love of tennis. My competitive club tennis has been replaced by what Billie Jean King once accurately described as ""Hit and giggle". (Her standard of "Hit and Giggle" being at a slightly higher standard than my own !). I have also been a semi-professional photographer since the age of twelve. I added "semi" because "professional" on it's own, implies that I have made a living at it! Nowadays I do it because I love taking pictures, and digital photography gives you such an economical way to enjoy your hobby. I am fond of pets, and my current collection is a Yellow Fronted Amazon Parrot and two wild French cats who have adopted us. "Ginger" is from St Jean du Losne, and "Whiskey" from Aigues-Mortes. Sadly both my large Newfoundland Bitches (9 and 15 years) died in 2009. "Jacko" is a rescue parrot from Germany, and he replaces my dear "Bobo" who passed away in August 2012, after keeping everyone entertained for 28 years.
Here I am aged 5. Before it all went wrong...only joking! We were living in Baghdad in 1950, and I attended an Arab school. Keen observers will spot my patriotic "Festival of Britain" tie pin! I lived to tell the tale.
Kuwait International Airport 1956. Standing next to my sister, Lorna. We are catching the BOAC Constellation, behind us. I am returning to the Dragon School, Oxford, and Lorna to Wycombe Abbey, High Wycombe. I am proudly wearing my "Junior Jet Club" badge. Looks like I have recently been taken to the Army and Navy's school outfit department to buy a new uniform! This outfit will need roughing up when I get back to school! In my day, Dragons were renowned for looking scruffy!
The Lockheed Constellation was a beautiful plane. JJ Club members were usually invited into the cockpit and even had a chance to take the controls! Those were the days!
Summer Holidays 1957 Skippering a 15 mtr motor cruiser around the Norfolk Broads along with Parrot's major and minor. I presume the picture was taken by my mother, who has insisted on the tie!
I cannot claim that I was a huge success at the Dragon, despite being very happy there. This may have been partly due to the fact that sweet rationing ended in 1953, and the Dragon School tuck shop was suddenly filled with Mars Bars and Mivvi ice lollies. The school's standards on all fronts were first class. My high point was leading a Dragon "Select" Cricket Team against the Dragon Mothers in
1957. Allegedly I bowled their Captain, Baroness Poole, with three successive balls. ("Pills" in Dragon vernacular). She was given "not out" on each occasion. The umpire replaced the bails, and promptly took me off! There was a rumour that the Noble Baron was considering making a large donation to the school. Clearly the "Select" team were meant to be a "Select" bunch of no hopers! A lesson in the ways of the world.
I am grateful to Wikipedia for a list of some famous "Old Dragons"
- Robert Acland (born 1941), pioneer microsurgeon and anatomist
- Robert Armstrong, Baron Armstrong of Ilminster (born 1927), civil servant
- Sir Gawain Bell (1909–1995) colonial administrator, Governor of Northern Nigeria
- Henry Barratt (born 1983), rugby union player
- Michael Beloff QC (born 1942), barrister, President of Trinity College, Oxford. He has recently been busting corruption in professional cricket.
- Sir John Betjeman (1906–1984), poet, Poet Laureate from 1972
- Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903–1989), composer
- Alain de Botton (born 1969), writer and television producer
- Humphry Bowen (1929–2002), chemist and botanist
- Jonathan Bowen (born 1956), computer scientist
- Julian Brazier (born 1953), politician
- Henry Brett, polo player, captain England polo team 2003–06
- Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Baron Bruce-Lockhart (1942–2008) politician
- William Buchan, 3rd Baron Tweedsmuir (1916–2008), novelist, poet and statesman
- Sir Giles Bullard (1926–1992), diplomat
- Sir Julian Bullard (1928—2006), diplomat
- Humphrey Carpenter (1946–2005), journalist, author, and musician
- Tristram Cary (1925–2008), composer.
- Christopher Cazenove (1945–2010), actor
- Leonard Cheshire VC (1917–1992), World War II RAF pilot and activist for the disabled
- Colin Clark (1905–1989), economist
- Hugh Dancy (born 1975), actor (on Broadway)
- Jack Davenport (born 1973), actor
- Quentin Davies, politician
- Ralph Henry Carless Davis (1918–1991), historian
- Cressida Dick (born 1960), senior police officer at the Metropolitan Police. Currently arresting Rupert Murdoch staff!
- Oliver Dimsdale (born 1972), actor
- Lady Antonia Fraser (born 1932, née Pakenham), historical author
- Tim Fry, (1934–2004) designer of the Hillman Imp
- Cyril Gadney, rugby player and president of the RFU
- The Rt. Hon. Hugh Gaitskell (1906–1963), politician, leader of the Labour Party from 1955–1963
- Jonathan Gili (1943–2004), documentary film maker
- J.B.S. Haldane (1892–1964), geneticist and evolutionary biologist
- Tim Henman (born 1974), tennis player
- Tom Hiddleston (born 1981), actor. Capt Nicholls in "Warhorse".
- Brent Hoberman, co-founder of lastminute.com
- Tom Hollander (born 1967), actor
- Peter Hopkirk (born 1930), journalist, author
- Air Marshal Sir Peter Horsley (1921–2001) Royal Air Force commander
- Frances Houghton (born 1980), rower and Olympic silver medallist
- Lord Hunt (born 1942), leading authority on turbulence modelling
- Sir Tim Hunt, biochemist and Nobel laureate
- Brian Inglis (1916–1993), journalist and historian
- Pico Iyer (born 1957), journalist and author
- Peter Jay (born 1937), television journalist, and former BBC economics editor
- Patrick Jenkin PC (Lord Jenkin of Roding, born 1926), politician
- David Jessel, journalist
- Stephen Jessel, journalist
- Dom Joly (born 1968), comedian
- Sir John Kendrew (1917–1997), molecular biologist and Nobel Laureate
- Andrew Lack (born 1953), biologist and botanist
- Hugh Laurie OBE (born 1959), British comedian and actor. "House" and occasional blues singer.
- David Lewis (born 1947) Lord Mayor of the City of London 2007–08
- Leo Lewis, journalist
- Hugh Miles (born 1977), journalist and author
- Naomi Mitchison (née Haldane, 1897–1999), British novelist and poet
- Philip Moore, Baron Moore of Wolvercote (1921–2009),Civil servant and personal private secretary to the Queen
- Robert Moore, ITN correspondent
- John Paul Morrison (born 1937) inventor of Flow-based programming
- Sir John Mortimer (1923–2009), playwright (his time at the school in the 1930s is fictionalised as "Cliffhanger School" in his play "A Voyage Round My Father"), barrister and novelist
- Sir Peter Newsam (born 1928) educator (also Staff)
- Sir Roger Norrington (born 1934), musician and conductor
- Ed O'Brien (born 1968), musician (member of Radiohead)
- Rageh Omaar (born 1967), journalist and writer
- Julian Opie (born 1958), artist
- Stephen Oppenheimer (born 1947), genetic researcher and author
- Ronnie Poulton-Palmer (born c.1890) killed in World War I, rugby player
- Jonathan Pugh (born 1962) cartoonist
- Sir Timothy Raison (born 1929), politician, journalist and author
- Jack Randle VC (1917–1944), distinguished serviceman, T/Captain, 2nd Bn. The Royal Norfolk Regiment
- Adrian Rawlins (born 1958), film and television actor
- Andrew Robinson (born 1957), author and editor
- William Leefe Robinson VC (1895–1918), distinguished serviceman, lieutenant, 39 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps
- Aubrey de Sélincourt (1894–1962) writer
- Nicholas Shakespeare (born 1957), journalist and novelist
- Nevil Shute (1899–1960), novelist
- Frank Sidgwick (1879–1939) founder of publishers Sidgwick and Jackson
- Sir John Slessor, Marshal of the Royal Air Force
- Sir John Smyth VC, distinguished serviceman, lieutenant, 15th Ludhiana Sikhs, Indian Army
- Richard Sorabji (born 1934) academic and historian of classical philosophy
- Timothy Sprigge (1932–2007) philosopher
- Jon Stallworthy (born 1935) academic and poet
- Clive Stanbrook OBE QC (born 1948) international lawyer and African biofuel pioneer
- Rory Stewart OBE (born 1973), politician, author and diplomat
- Christopher Tolkien, son of J. R. R. Tolkien
- Peter Tranchell (1922–1993), musician, composer, and teacher
- Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt, Royal NavyAdmiral
- Sam Waley-Cohen (born 1982), jockey and businessman
- Tom Ward (born 1971), actor (Silent Witness)
- Paul Watkins (born 1963), Booker Prize-nominated author
- Emma Watson (born 1990), actress."Harry Potter"
- Admiral Sir Hugo White (born 1939), Royal Navy admiral, Commander-in-Chief Fleet 1992–95
- Jack Whitehall (born 1988), comedian and actor. TV series "Fresh Meat"
- Conrad Wolfram (born 1970), technologist
- Stephen Wolfram (born 1959), physicist, computer programmer
- Shaun Wylie (1913–2009), mathematician and World War II codebreaker
- Baroness Young (1926–2002), politician
- Max Irons (Born 1985), Actor
After a brief stay at Sutton Valence in Kent, I was on my way to Canada in 1959.
1960, Ashbury College, Ottawa. The Queen Mother pays us a visit. I developed the film and printed the negative on our bathroom floor.
Governor General Vanier inspects the School Cadet Honour Guard. I am grateful to Cadet Captain Bruce McNair...carrying the sword...for this photo. It was taken after I had left to go to Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB.
It rained heavily on my parade in 1962! Ho hum!
1962. Fieldmarshal Montgomery of Alamein inspected the Ashbury Cadet Corps. He commented that we all needed a haircut! (See above!) Headmaster Ron Perry clearly does not know what to do with his hands during the dressing down! Nice Government "Caddie" though. The Canadians were treating him with more respect than he was getting back home from some of his own people. "How I won the war", was no longer a popular refrain.
1964 Mount Allison University. Wearing my Varsity jacket. We were the Maritime Soccer League Champions. Not alot of study going on!
Summer 1964. "V" marks yours truly in the University Naval Training Division. (UNTD). Unfairly nicknamed the "Untidies". This is a group photo of "Assiniboine" Division (The "Sin Div") at HMCS Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.
My ship, HMCS Inch Arran. This is her in 1944. We did a "there and back" across the Atlantic to Chatham, Torbay, and Newport, UK via the Azores. I suppose in 1964 she was not that old. Now of course you would only find her crewed by Noel Coward and John Mills et al. I recall that she rolled like a bugger in the heavy ocean swell, and when we encountered the tail end of a Hurricane several days out of Halifax, NS, we were confined to our bunks. On reflection the RCN probably did not want to lose any Cadets overboard!
We optimistically hoped to cut a swathe through swinging London!
Here we are after a "Dog Watch"trip around the Cornwallis Marine Commando Assault Course. I have an idea it was punishment for smuggling a cow onto the parade ground...the largest parade ground in the Commonwealth. The WREN only joined us for the photocall!
I kid you not!
1966, and trying to look cool!
1979 Married and Mortgaged, but still looking cheerful!
The Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club 1977. "I would like to say a few words to our friends from Plaswyk Tennis Club, Rotterdam..."
We had a famous visitor practising at the Cumberland. Bjorn won all his five Wimbledon Championships by training on our grass courts. His practice partners included Rod Laver, Panatta, Vitas Gerulaitas, Heinze Guntdhart (sic), and Billy Martin. It was amazing to watch their level of tennis...which looked like it had come from another planet!
1984. "Robert" my young Blue and Gold macaw, checks for any sign of grey matter!
1984. Robert meets Bobo for the first time. It did not go well!
1999 - 2003 my beloved 7.5 Meter "Tornado" with a 225 hp Yamaha OB. My two Newf's, Laura and Erin, waiting patiently for me to return from a Thames side pub! I moored it next to London City Airport, in the Royal docks...close to the old Harland & Wolf works. We made around a hundred round trips between Wandsworth and Southend pier. I also towed it to the Isle of Man, and did a few hairy trips around the Irish Sea. Now I wish I had never sold it. With it's long distance 400 liter fuel tanks, and it's 50 Knots speed, we could easily go to Marseilles for lunch, and return for supper...mind you, I would have to pass the hat round to cover the fuel bill!
2006 and a full time boat person!
Sadly Bobo passed away in August 2012. She was in her sixties.
"Jacko" arrived at the beginning of December 2012. A 23 year old yellow fronted amazon. He has come to me as a rescue from Germany, where he fell out with his family...feathered and human. A completely different character from my beloved "Bobo", but we are developing a good relationship. On the plus side, he is not destructive, so he gets to fly around the ship. He is fearless and is not giving way to the cats. An o.k. idea with wimpy "Whisky", but I am not sure it is such a great idea with "Ginger" who is a proven killer! Jacko" does not talk, but his speciality is mimicking a "Rape Alarm"! Disconcerting to all on board.
THIS IS A BRIEF STORY OF OUR HULL FABRICATION IN STEEL, THE INSTALLATION OF OUR MECHANICALS, AND A TEST SAIL DOWN TO ILFRACOMBE.
Saul Junction, Gloucestershire. Slightly more relaxing than Camden Town!
This is how every steel boat starts!
The framework is almost complete in a few weeks in the spring of 2002. No airconditioning machines needed yet. The plating is giving an idea of the ultimate shape of the hull.
The vessel takes shape quickly, because the plates are tack welded together. It is the filling in of the gaps, using several tons of welding sticks and wire, that seems to take a bit longer.
Saul Nomad was actually launched on July 6th 2002, just after dawn.
She quickly had to be manoevered round to the Dry Dock,
where the keel would be attached. The reason for the haste,
is that the hole for the keel was covered by temporary plating
with the water protection of a collander! Despite the fifty tons incorporated
in her build, it was easy to haul her around.
Ready to go over the edge...and Phil Trotter keeps a close watch.
Once safely supported in the dry dock, we were able to drop in the
245 hp CT6 - six cylinder 8.3 Ltr Cummins diesel, the 32 Kv Beta Generator and the 360 degree
azimuthing drive. (The 340 Kg bowthruster was already in). We had
decided on an all hydraulic boat. It is some years since Dad played
for Oldham Athletic F.C., and most of our cruising could be single
handed. Thus the two 2000 kg windlasses, the two 900 kg capstans, the five ton
Hyab crane, and the steel engine room hatch covers could all be
driven and controlled on station or from the wheelhouse. Rotec
Hydraulics started work by the end of July 2002, and although
it seemed to take forever, they finished in December.
Commercial grade stainless hydraulic pipes pass along the saloon floor.
The Stainless water tank from Lee Sanitation lies waiting installation.
Traditional Brass Dutch portholes, chromed and supplied by Peter Dufficy of Brenmarl.
In early autumn 2002, Keith Meadowcroft of Ampower Services, commenced
the installation of the electrical supply, control and management system.
Our criteria was for a virtual no compromise normal domestic 240 volt system,
with 24 and 12 volt supply in there as well. A scenario would be, that we would
be anchored in some remote spot - say the Camargue, in the South of France.
Airconditioning might be running, and a machine wash is urgently needed,
dinner would be in the oven, Hi-Fi ticking over, and icecubes for the fruit cocktail,
a report being filed on the internet to London...got the picture?
However "no-compromise" is expensive and complicated. More of that later!
The "Power Take Off" bolted to the end of the Cummins CT6.
The engine revs at 750 (idle) or 1800 rpm by throwing a switch.
At maximum chat she should produce 245Hp which translates to a
two ton bollard pull. However we will probably only need 1.5 tons.
Beta 32 Kv generator on left , Cummins CT6-8.3 on right.
Adrian from Rotec Hydraulics pumps up the volume!
Steve Ivatt(Kort Propulsion), Craig at helm, and Chris Yeo (Rotec) realise
that some adjustments need doing to the steering!
It has taken nearly a year to get the steering right. To put it mildly we have been through many vicissitudes! All credit to Kort Propulsion, Rotec Hydraulics, and Cummins who have spent many man hours getting it spot on. That was the purpose of the system, which has had it's detractors. We have now got a bullet proof rig that any inexperianced person can pick up and place a quite large barge (by british standards) on a dollar..with only a few hours practice. There is also a large reservoir of power that can come on in an emergency situations.
We now have two steering systems. 1. mechanical linkage from wheel to power pod. The original setup, now used for direction of drive indicator purposes and emergancy backup and 2. a hydraulic drive on the Pod itself, with a 24v wired connection to two joysticks (one mobile) in the wheelhouse. 2005..and Marconi/Selenia are installing a Navitron 921G Autopilot. It is specifically able to control an azimuthing drive like ours. It is also type approved in every european country, so no problem with our commercial insurance.
The Mechanical Steering was helped with heavier guage connecting rods, but it is not our first choice system. The wheelhouse roof and glazing followed!
January 20th 2005. The engine room floor is in. The replacement exhaust insulation is fastened in place to comply with commercial requirements. The copper tubing of the central chiller unit are in view. (All part of the ship's digitally controlled climate control system.) The 32 kV Genny sits in it's accoustic housing below "Henry" the vacuum cleaner. All the cooling hoses originally used to connect the genny have been replaced following premature failure, and it is also now plumbed into the 60 litre calorifier. The 1200 aH gel batteries (below the chiller) are due to be sealed off and seperately ventilated to comply with regulations. The main engine now has a very powerful power take off on it to drive the main combined bilge and fire pump. By law we also have a seperate electrically driven fire pump in the saloon, and hand operated bilge pumps in every watertight section of the ship. One thing about a newly built 1920's style barge, is that every modern safety feature has to be incorporated. Expensive, but one has a better chance of surviving a disaster...without trashing the local environment into the bargain. One wonders at the actually safety on an original 1920's barge, where there are several crucial safety exemptions allowed and the thickness and consistency of the hull plates is uncertain.
The Launch Party!
It was not really a "launch" more of a "naming". I am most grateful to my friend Angela Billingham - known by many as Baroness Billingham of Banbury, and regularly doing her stuff in the House of Lords, and reviewing the morning papers for Sky News - for taking time out to trog up to Saul to do the "God Help All Who Sail in Her" speech!
A spit roasted pig was sacrificed, and several barrels of real ale, lager, wine, spirits etc..joined in the fun! For live music, I was also lucky to engage the services of Chris Jagger on vocals and washboard, Ben Waters on Boogie Piano and Robbie McKindo on fiddle, who were all brilliant. Chris is regularly heard on Radio, and some of his work is included on his brother's "Steel Wheels" album. (As in "Rolling Stones"). I look forward to getting them back on board at a future date!
Not every day do you get a Jagger playing live in your living room! (This spot is now the Master Cabin.) Many consider him the best musician in his family.
My good friend Baroness Billingham of Banbury kindly took time out to launch my ship. Due to a lack of pictures from our party...see drinks schedule, I show Angela (left) and daughter Caroline, both in fetching pink ermine fluffy ears at a Kenwood concert. Along with daughter Caroline, she is a several times winner and runner up of the Mother and Daughter European Tennis Doubles Championships. She also runs the House of Lords Tennis Team...and is often reported in the media, giving the LTA what for!
....and now some credits!
Saul Nomad as she was on the 8th April 2003
Hull designed by Tony Tucker; Fabricated by R.W. Davis & Sons,( www.rwdavis.co.uk ), Junction Dry Dock, Saul, Gloucestershire; Hull build started March 1st 2002; Moved from Terra Ferma to Dry Dock for Keel fitting July 6th 2002; Azimuthing and Bowthruster drives and the Cummins CT6 diesel suppled by Kort Propulsion ( www.kortpropulsion.com ); Power Generation supplied by Beta of Stroud ( www.betamarine.co.uk ); Hydraulics by Rotec ( www.rotec.net )completed November 2002; Chromed Brassware by Peter Dufficy of Brenmarl, ( www.narrowboatbrassware.co.uk ); Wheel house by Pete Marriott ably assisted by Don; Named by the "first mate" The Baroness Billingham of Banbury December 17th 2002 at Launch Party with music supplied by Chris Jagger ( Mick's brother) supported by a similarly talented lineup; Mastervolt Electricals by Keith Meadowcroft of VoltMaster; Furuno Navaids by Cactus Navigation installed by Insight Marine - completed April 2003.(www.cactusnav.com ); Webasto Central heating by Bryan Kaye, ( www.boatheating.co.uk ), but since became so unreliable it was relegated to backup only; Mechanical fitout continues through to 2005!
Barge transport. Cooper Works four speed "S" Sports. Still only 7500 miles on the clock.
None of it underwater yet. Purchased along with number plate "Nii....own", but "X" registered really. One of the very last classic mini's built.
Lulu supervises things.
I did send that cheque off for the insurance, didn't I!!?
Never in doubt.. thank god!
With equipment fitted, we need to get "Saul Nomad" worked up as soon as possible. Saul Junction is roughly a twenty mile round trip from Gloucester Historic Docks. Ideal for testing, and with the renovated docks a most pleasant place to spend some time in. There is always a busy programme of events going on, and the Bank Holiday was no exception.
Saul Nomad slips along the Sharpness. The Sun had finally come out to play, after spending most of May 2003 in hiding! The folding "ClamBoat" tender sits on the saloon roof!
We have found that at engine set at 1800 rpm, and with the stern thruster running at around 1000 psi ( 4000 psi is maximum), we achieve around five mph - but Nomad can be steered using only the bowthruster. However when manoevering at close quarters, the stern thruster can position her very accurately.
There is always quite a bit of movement in the docks.
...and fine old ships outside Nielsen's Yard.
Tied up opposite the National Waterways Museum.
Close to an interesting collection of historical craft.
.....Including the rather ugly concrete barge (foreground).
Time for a couple of Beers and few Sandwiches, before setting off back to Saul.
We arranged our first Sea Trial on the weekend of the 13th July 2003. We travelled down the canal to Sharpness on the friday evening, so that we would be ready to lock out into the Severn at seven am the following morning. We had two qualified crew, and Chris Morris as our volunteer grease monkey! A detailed passage plan to Ilfracombe on the North Devon coast, had been prepared. The schedule was based on us making and average speed of 10 Knots. This was heading into the great unknown, because of the speed limits on the inland waterways, we had no idea what Saul Nomad would do. What we found out very quickly is that for some reason "Saul Nomad" could not get much over seven knots. It could be the pitch of the propeller or a problem with the power setup..this was our first major Sea trial after all. Hence We had to rework our sums, and calculated that we could get to Ilfracombe at by High Tide at 7pm.
Sharpness Lock at 6.45am, despite preparing Nomad for sea since 5 am
we still feel chirpy.
Entering the "shoots" on the Severn. Spoken of with respect by many sailors, but Nomad cleared them uneventfully, both ways. We tried it at full power on the way out, and at idle on the way in. She is a very stable vessel for a flat bottomed Barge, and
passed her tests well in this regard.
Ilfracombe..and looking small tied up alongside m.v. Oldenberg. Originally a German railway ferry, now running cruises to lovely Lundy Island. The Oldenberg crew were not only very friendly and but very helpful. (they also had a licensed bar on board!)
It quickly became clear that our fenders - which were designed for river and canal application, were totally inadequate in tidal waters. The solution was supplied by "Oldenburg", which had a "Yokohama" fender on board. "Yokohamas" are expensive, but two of those would provide protection in most situations. I ordered two .5 x 1.00 mtr fenders to be flown in from Singapore.
(This is a picture taken subsequently in October 2003, of the two Yokohama fenders sitting on the stern of "Saul Nomad".
The small tyres are alledgedly off a Harrier jetfighter. For the price the fenders cost, I thought we were getting the whole jet! ..But they do work. During bollard tests, our Barge Association Belgian fenders were shredded at pressures over a ton against the metal cladding along the sides of the Sharpness Canal. The Yokohama's emerged unmarked.)
I can think of worse places to be marooned than Ilfracombe!
We had had some difficulties with the steering on the way down to Ilfracombe. (On reflection we had been slightly optimistic in travelling so far down to the edge of the Bristol Channel.) The problem was that Saul Nomad would start veering to Port (The Left!) under full load. In fighting this tendancy, we had managed to distort most of the sixteen mechanical linkages to the drive pod - and I discovered this fact when I first took the helm as we went to Dock at the main Ilfracombe Pier. I found that left helm and meant right, and right helm meant left. (translated for ye landlubbers!). Disconcerting or what!! Eventually one got used to it, because the steering is so responsive one can ignore the helm, and watch which way Saul Nomad moves in the water.
Taking the ground is no problem. The azimuthing drive still pointing to port, from our docking procedure. Wheels are "up", on the Clamboat!
The Tide is in, so our able crew get a trip around the Bay!
I had been blessed with the free services of professional crew for the whole trip, but unfortunately they all had to return to their day jobs on monday. So I contemplated life alone in Ilfracombe for several days, with two (pissed off) dogs and a parrot. Rotec Hydraulics were brilliantly quick with their service. Their General Manager Steve Radford, had called me from home on sunday morning in response to my urgent message on his office ansafone the previous evening. Chris Yeo, their diagnostics engineer, was aboard by midday on monday. Five hours of testing failed to find any radical fault on the steering, and we were cleared to return to Gloucester. I was lucky to sign up a local lifeboatman and professional crewman in Carl Perrin. Ably assisted by Crewman Ron, we had a smooth passage back to Sharpness... that was until I managed to have a coming together with the Sharpness pier. Our mighty Cummins had been showing a tendancy to stall under full load and chose inconveniently to stall three times as I made to enter Sharpness Dock. I lost control in the seven knot current sweeping the entrance, and went head on into the wooden slatted pier! The sensation was like jumping sideways onto a large trampoline strapped to fifty tons of steel. The Hull was virtually unmarked, but the inside of the barge was like WW3. Amazingly nothing actually broke..apart from the base of the parrot cage. We finished up with "Bobo" whizzing around our heads swearing like a trooper. In the end she climbed back into the remains of the cage which was lying on it's side, hanging herself upside down on what remained!
In future I will remember power back up against the Severn tide, as it requires a fraction of the power available. This is standard practise for experianced skippers, but is not mentioned in the pilotage notes. A serious loss of dignity on my part, but fortunately no great damage to the ship. It is a consolation that dignity does not cost much, but damaged ships are expensive! Investigations have been carried out by Kort Propulsion regarding the propulsion problems.. ranging from fuel starvation, to Prop pitch, to a hydraulic valve dumping pressure within the system. Eventually after many hours of checking the obvious to no avail, we found that a weight had sheared off the mechanical governor inside the Bosch fuel pump, fitted as standard to the Cummins Diesel and that the external digital Governor was also shutting down..apparently just for the hell of it! We have replaced the Bosch and discarded the Governor, and the engine now runs at full power. Finally as a note of praise to Cummins, they refunded me £ 2000 for my tribulations!
Ron takes the helm, on the way back From Ilfracombe to Sharpness. Carl is out of shot, poring over the charts as usual!
"Bobo" checks out the Severn Bridge. She was not so impressed when we later "came together" with Sharpness Pier. One of the few times that I have heard her swear! Her cage was in bits, and upside down on the floor! Not much reason really! After a couple of flying circuits around the wheel house, she climbed back into the cage. Although with a slight lack of cage floor, she had to hang upside down from it's roof!