…And digger pontoon lift

On Wednesday 16 January 2019 one of Chichester Canal’s trip boats, Kingfisher, was lifted out of the canal. This was for the biannual safety inspection.  Malcolm Maddison from the Canal said, ‘Seeing the boat being lifted out of the water was a spectacle and caused a lot of interest. Members of the public stopped to watch the work in progress with many taking photos of the action.’Every year, one of the trip boats has to be inspected. Because these boats carry passengers, the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has to ensure everything is in good order. The lift out is necessary so the MCA can check the hull.

While the boat is on land it gives the Canal volunteers the opportunity to clean the hull, and after inspection apply blackening for protection. The steering, propeller and other accessible equipment are also checked.

Measures were put in place the evening before to prevent vehicle access to the Canal Basin.  Preparation for the lift started at 7 am with the arrival of the crane at 8. Kingfisher was lifted out of the water by 11. To complete the lift, Coussens Cranes (a specialist Hampshire company) were contracted. They used a 160 ton crane with an attendant lorry and supplied all necessary equipment. Though Coussens is responsible for all the work, the Canal Trust ensures that there are always two experienced volunteers on hand to answer any questions they may have.

Trestles and sleepers were brought up from Hunston to support the boat while it is on land. The lift was risky work so canal volunteers manned the work area to ensure the public remained safe.

Usually the contractor also lifts out a work boat for inspection at the same time. However, this year it was decided to lift and repair the digger pontoon as it had sprung a couple of leaks. This caused quite a stir last summer when the digger landed up in the water, stopping all canal boat trips for 6 days.

The crane then returns and the boat will be lifted into the water ready for the first boat trip of the working year on 17 February.

Authored by David Stares (volunteer)

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