Volunteers have been busy making sure everything is ship shape at the canal ahead of our 200th anniversary celebrations.
Every January, we arrange for one of the canal trip boats to be removed from the water for inspection. Because the trip boats Kingfisher and Richmond carry passengers, they must each have an inspection every 2 years. This time it was Kingfisher’s turn to be lifted out of the water. The Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) make sure that everything is in order.
This year, it was not just Kingfisher that was removed from the water; an extra three boats were lifted. Frisky, a 1950’s built tug was removed to repair her prop shaft; Cygnet, a fibre glass work boat required some much needed TLC and finally the canal’s newly acquired 1960’s built tug was moved to the water after having its hull restored and repainted by canal volunteers.
The volunteer team started preparation for the lifts before Christmas and there was much activity on 4th January with the removal of the canal’s popular Christmas lights and decorations. Lifts were performed on the 5th January. Kingfisher was lowered on to land supported trestles and sleepers brought up from Hunston. Coussens Cranes, a specialist Hampshire company, managed the lifts. They used a 160-ton crane with an attendant lorry and supplied all the necessary equipment and skilled manpower.
Two experienced volunteers were on hand to make sure any questions were answered.
The boat lifts created a lot of interest and members of the public stopped to watch the work as it was happening. Many took photos. Because using a crane to move boats off and on to the basin is dangerous work, canal volunteers were also on hand to make sure the spectators were safe.
The inspection usually takes a couple of days. Once remedial work has been completed, the Trust expects to have all the boats back on the Basin by the end of January, within plenty of time for the start of the boat trips, anticipated to start again at the end of February.
Photos: Andrew Gibson and Janet Osborne