Friday, 5 June 2009

'Houston, we have Liftoff'....

Yesterday - 4th June 2009

Well, the great day had at last arrived, and we were up early to get to Beacon in time to see Windsong loaded onto the crane for her journey to Pillings Lock Marina to be launched. The previous evening, Ali had sent photos of her emerging into the daylight as they pulled her out of the workshop (sorry, photos are on the phone, and the lead to connect to the computer is packed in the boat storage container - doh!) She came
out of the workshop like a dream, apparently. The crane and lorry arrived bright and early, and by the time we were supping our first coffee of the day, they were ready.

Waiting for the crane

We have lift off - teaching Windsong to fly

Loaded onto the lorry ready for her journey

The lorry has to go a very long way round as it would never get through the village, taking over half an hour to do what we can do in ten minutes, so we decided that rather than follow it we would go straight to Pillings Lock Marina and have breakfast while waiting for it to arrive.
Unfortunately, we were at least 45 minutes to early for the cafe so we just waited around.

Windsong arriving at Pillings

The crane set up ready to lift her onto the trolley as soon as Ali and Neil arrived (the next boat had arrived on the same lorry and they first had to push it into the workshop). The drill is that the crane and lorry do whatever the 'slip manager' tells them to. Big mistake in this case, as the normal chap had been called away on an emergency and 'someone else' (no names!) on the Marina's staff had taken it upon themselves to do the job. Unfortunately, he insisted that the boat would be OK on the trolley, to go in the water bow first. We all thought that this was strange, as we knew she should go in stern first, but, as I said, you have to do what the slip manager says, and we all assumed that they knew what they were doing.

This same 'nameless person' also insisted that he drive the tractor that pushes the trolley down the slip into the water. After about 50 goes at getting it straight, in she went, bow first, and went, and went!! By this time I was covering my eyes and holding my breath as the bow well filled with water. Eventually all our shouting at the driver to 'STOP', got through. The Marina manager managed to get on board, and said that the water was within an inch of flooding in through the bow doors. They lifted the hydraulics on the trolley and got the deck drains out of the water. By this time Rog was threatening to yank the bloke out of the tractor cab and lay one on him, but then saw sense and walked away! Ali and Neil were fuming by this time, and Ali put her foot down and said 'no more' - and insisted to the Marina manager that they get the boat out and turn her round. Ali had to phone the lorry driver, and ask him to come back as it was impossible to crane her round as there wasn't enough room.

Almost drowned - the bow well flooding!

At this stage we were all so tense that we decided that as the lorry was half an hour away, we would go and have a belated breakfast, to try to calm down - Rog was still fuming. The Marina manager was full of apologies and explanations, but I still had to keep Rog away from him. Regardless of the reasons, this 'nameless' staff member should not have been allowed anywhere near a boat! In due course, and after a smashing breakfast, we were all in a better humour - the coffees and teas were on the house! (to my mind the whole breakfast should have been - but you can't have everything!)

Windsong now facing the right way, ready for the trolley to be reversed underneath her

Neil saying "piss-ups and breweries spring to mind"

Teaching Windsong to swim - in the water, the right way round! The tractor was driven by the Marina manager this time.

Swimming at last

After Sam, the engine man from Foxton Boat Services had tightened down all the engine mounts and the prop shaft, we took her for her first trip around the Marina to her mooring. She handled beautifully, and Rog made a great job of reversing her into the space - we were all impressed. Considering that he hadn't been at the helm since the boat handling course last September, and it was a strange boat, with new paintwork, he was brilliant! We then went and had something else to eat (cake!) as it was by now well past lunchtime. We spent another hour admiring her, and showed one couple around who had stopped to admire her paintwork. Eventually, we had to leave her in Ali and Neil's capable hands to do what they had to do with adjusting the ballast etc, although there wasn't a lot of that to be done as she was pretty well level in the water (well done to Neil!) There are a few little jobs still to be completed, so we will let them get on with it over the weekend and go back over on Monday. All in all it was an exciting day, and we were all exhausted by the time we got home!

Today, we severed the last of our links with the RAF, travelling back to RAF Wittering to hand over our Married quarter - as we left, Rog said "Now I'm retired!" We look forward to our new life with great anticipation.


  1. Congratulations both on keeping calm under what must have been a nightmare thinking it would be a sinking not a launching and secondly realising the start of a good life afloat.
    Fantastic looking forward to meeting you both again.

  2. Hi Pip,
    I've been using Windows Live Writer for a while now, can't fault it. It's so much more reliable & you can do more with it than blogger!

    (Takey Tezey)

  3. Congratulations! Just read your blog, my heart was in my mouth reading about your mishap with the launch. These things are sent to try us! Windsong looks fantastic! Happy cruising. Take careDebbie NB Tickety Boo.

  4. Congratulations to you both, on retiring and the finishing of your beautiful boat.
    OMG the man with no name needs sacking. My question would have been "Are you insured to do this job"? I can imagine how you both felt when you saw her bow disappearing under the water. But thankfully all is well and you can now begin your new life afloat. We look forward to seeing you on the system. Hugss Jo

  5. Les, Debbie, Keith & Jo

    Thank you all so much for the kind thoughts. It was a bit traumatic at the time, but luckily Ali & Neil (Beacon) were brilliant and laid down the law to the marina and all was well in the end.

    They are taking a couple of days to finish odd bits off, so much as we want to get on and move stuff on, we will leave them in peace to finish.

    Hope to meet you all on the cut soon.

    Roger & Pip

  6. Heather

    I tried Live writer a while back and didn't get on with it. However the newer version seems much better and now we are on mobile BB much better to compose and check offline before uploading.

    Your blog always gives me a bit of a chuckle, look forward to meeting you sometime.

    Roger (Oh & Pip)

  7. Hi Roger n Pip, Soon be moving in then. Oh what heart stopping moments you went through. Put it behind you and keep looking forward to your adventures of discovery on the waterways.
    Chas n Ann, Moore 2 Life


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