A tight squeeze on the slip

Converted MFV Motor Fifie
Take a deep breath and go for it! measured up, we're actually over 15 feet wide, the slip is around 16 feet wide, so not a lot of room for maneuvering

my what a big bottom you have

finally in your bunk at 1am, pot noodle for breakfast at 2.30am, you know its got the makings of an interesting day

never realised how different the upper tyne looks in the pitchy dark when you're a bit sleepy, a lot of the lights on the perches up there aren't working any more either! took the wimps way out and turned radar on (given that they are just inside out microwaves one day we're gonna put the pies in the raydome!)

with stupendously accurate timing(ish) made out intial approach to Fred Crowel's slip, bang on 4.38, which meant it was nearly light enough to almost see where we are going. But those sneaky pirate folk that inhabit that bit of the river on the south side have installed there own cunning tidal system, clearly to keep big Gay fishing boats at bay, as the tide runs down stream on the ebb, their little bit of the tyne goes the opposite way

so out first 2 attempts at fitting 15'9" of boat into a 16 foot wide slip failed dismally so, there was nowt for it but to try rope her in, so with a somewhat skeleton crew of 2, one of which leapt like a leapy thing to pirate country and tried to tug 30 tons of boat round the corner, nightmare, the pirate tide throwing us all ower the shop, sharp pointy concrete wall things doing sharp pointy concrete wally things to any bit of wood not defended by dunlop or michelin

took a while but got her in, it all seems so long but it's entirely possible we may of hit some 'things' at some point during the night/morning or whatever that time is normally called

I did have a brainwave to save north sea fishstocks at this point, I'm going buy them all watches and teach them to tell the time, that way they'll stay in bed till we get there (eventually)

I didn't have an attack of the red mist at all during these maneuvers and was only grumpy 'a bit'

An hour piling ballast and 'mystery grey powdery stuff' on one side and she took what little lean there was against the wall. Nowt left for us to do but to wait for the naughty pirates tide thing to go away to see whats what and have a grope of her nethers. nethers which are in remarkably fine fettle for a 70 year old, a fact confirmed by our newest best friend and wooden boat builder extraordianire Mr Fred Crowell. To underline how good she is he even drilled a hole in her nethers for us too prove the point, something about creaping crack cure, so Pansy is now a real 21st century girl and has a genital piercing

raked out half a dozen seams above the waterline, recaulked and resealed them with 'toothpaste', did a few suspect bits 'down below' as well

some of the pirates returned early and along with our newest best friend started to launch missiles at North Shields using hairspray and golf balls

got to wave at at a few people I know that stopped by whilst passing in their boats, to have a chuckle at us, although that may not have happened, I think I'd started to hallucinate after drinking too much antifouling and licking the white lead off my fingers

lashed a bit paint on the new stripey bits, greeted several boarding parties, while No 2 was reaching the parts other *insert something appropriate* cannot reach with a paint roller

by now the wet stuff was starting to tickle her hint end again, as the pirates liberated more treasure from Pansy's bowels, but the naughty tide likes us now and we slipped out without a bother and headed home, several tons lighter and several leaks less leakier.... but the those nice people who man the magic bridge had buggered off early leaving us doing little circles in the middle of the river trying to work out how to squeeze something 20 foot high under a 3 foot bridge,

No 2 raced to the rescue though, leapt like a leapy thing for the second time in a day and possibly his entire life, and managed to find some one in the pub that knew the magic words...... although by this time we had several knots of cross current to traverse to squeeze her back in her hole

Even more sleepy now so it is entirely possible we didn't get back in the marina but are still going round in circles in the middle of the tyne
all in all a good day done, pics to follow!

to boldly go....

where not much has been for quite some time, ok not quite as catchy as james tiberious kirk, but his ship wasn't a Pansy! Busy week coming up and just a wee bit nerve racking to boot. She coming out the water next weekend.

but first the 'to boldly go' bit. Went to the cash and carry and came out armed with a huge box of stuff, bilge cleaner, degreaser, rags, wipes, brushes mops and buckets. The plan is to launch a serious assault on the hole this week. stuffed right at the back of the engine room, there's a wee mountain of intriguing ballast to shift first. Intriguing because there's a lot of heavy duty plastic bags containing 'something' each sealed bag ways maybe 10Kg, and contains a grey, granular powdery stuff. No idea what it is, but it is a: heavy, and b: doesn't go rusty. might be lead, which is a result, might be some weird alien stuff that will consume the planet if try melt it, no idea yet, but will find out for sure in a day or 2 as I brought a small sample home to see what I can do with it.

Then on saturday morning at around 5am, to coincide with a nice high tide, we have an appointment with dry land. We've been offered the use of a little slipway in South Shields courtesy of wooden boat repair/building guru and all round good guy Fred Crowell. Now his slip is perfect, and is a little over 15' wide, which will be interesting, and somewhat snug as we are just under 15' wide, and have to squeeze ourselves in whilst at the mercy of whatever currents the River Tyne might care to throw past us. Should be interesting! So if we can ease ourselves in, make her lean gently to port, and make her fast, all we have to do is wait for the tide to go out so we can set to and see what awaits below. Its one of those, situations where you might not want to know the answer, but ever the optimist....

expect lots of pictures (about time I took some more), and hopefully not too much drama next weekend

Converting the conversion?

Well, after yesterdays little tussle with a few fixtures and fittings, we're still debating the relative merits of converting the conversion. Whilst whats there has been mostly well built, the layout doesn't make the most of the space. Looked at dozens and dozens of pictures of other converted MFV's, trawlers, Fifies Zulu's the lot, and think we can make it much more attractive and much more practical to boot. Back to the drawing board time.

We did have a little explore of 2 beautifully restored and partially converted MFV's that are moored alongside us last week... so thats what a clean dry boat looks like!

Before all that happens though we're getting her out of the water for the first time, which will be fun, there's a small slip we've been invited to use further down the tyne, and boy will that be fun, its just over 15' wide and we're just under 15' wide, so not a lot of room for error, and just to make it even more fun, anything other than slack water and it will get the full force of the tide running across it, so it's going to be interesting. 2nd of august at high tide around 5am is the chosen time, so watch this space

I did have a little peak behind the seating on the port side of the saloon, and discovered a fabulous bulkhead of diagonal mahogany planking hidden behind it,, if there's more of that elsewhere, it'll make the decision to pull everything out and start over much easier to make.

more ballast to shift first though, back end of the engine room this time. bit poky and cramped in there so sore necks all around struggling to drag it all out and up the ladder. No 2 made an exploratory investigation of the state of the timbers and paintwork down in the hole yesterday as well, few minutes with a wire brush and a rag and lo and behold its in pretty damn good nick, so another wee plus for the old girl, 2 or 3 hours scrubbing between us and she'll be shiny shiny shiny

Now, about that switch...

"shower tray drain pump" might of been a bit misleading, but the truth of it was finally revealed today. In a fit of pique, I ventured under the sink... the sink was leaking, well not so much leaking, but when you pulled the plug out, the water drained away, but mostly into the cupboard under the sink. So with the red mist rising, a 2lb mash hammer in one hand and a jemmy in the other, I, in the words of a haynes manual, "tapped gently to separate parts", yes we all know that Mr Haynes tells lies, nothing that needs 'tapping gently' will ever come apart with anything less than the full blood and fury of a man whose lost it completely. Needless to say the bottom of the cupboard under the sink was 'separated' from the rest of cupboard, and in several pieces too, and low and behold in all its stinking festering glory was, the true end of the road for the "shower train pump switch". A veritble curiosity crammed in a shoe box, ok a plastic box big enough to accomodate 2 small shoes.

the hose from the sink goes into the box at one end, and in the box is a float switch and a small bilge pump, the hose for which then dissapears behind another cupboard then out through a skin fitting. Interesting idea, and potentially very useful if you had a sink the size of a small shoe box, and would therefore never release more than a shoebox full of water into it, well maybe half a shoe box full as this one is already an inch full of of the sort of slime and detrious that is found at the bottom of a blocked U bend, a very fragrant nosegay indeed and a bit harsh on the stomach if it caught you wrong!

needless to say its gone the journey pending a far more practical arrangement for draining the sink, which is several shoeboxes large in size by the way.

whilst at it, a big chunk of the saloon floor got ripped up as well revealing more hoses or of unknown source, origin or use, we did discover though that one of them runs through to the f'ocsle, and provided a brief period of entertainment blowing down it and shouting orders to the other end "More Bovril No 2, and on the double" things of that order. Why is it there though?? answers on a postcard please.

One thing that has started to become more apparent though is that the majority of the fixtures and fittings in the saloon might end up going the journey as well, gut the whole place and start again, at least we'll know what other surprises old girl has in store for us

mutinous behaviour

well whadya know, we can now not only steer in a straight line and the turning circle is less than a mile now as well. In fact we can actually do U turns in a couple of boat lengths. Yup the steering is up and running, fine tuned and works like what it does on proper boats. Before that we had to do a 3(ish) point turn in the tyne, and thats half a mile wide!

So out the marina on saturday afternoon, and tie up on the waiting pontoon to catch the tide at stupid o'clock sunday morning. No2, and new recruit, to save embarrassment we'll call the lad No 4, elected to sleep on board on saturday night. and that dear friends was their downfall. For next to the marina is a pub, ok there's a pub next to every marina, not sure but I think its the law. Its probably the law that all pubs next to a marina have a number of Interesting characters in residence as well.

needless to say, when l turned up at the boat at stupid o'clock sunday morning, the crew were still tucked up in bed sleeping it off, and in their merriment left everything powered up overnight, so the batteries were little more than ballast (more on ballast later). luckily the henjin has its very own secret batteries, so starting up was not a problem, although doing the checks and odds and sods in a pitchy dark engine room was interesting.

so engine fired up, ropes off and away, hang on though where's No 2?? buggered off back to bed, albeit a different bed, the warm one recently vacated by No 4. tried to rouse him from his slumbers by opening the deck hatch above him and pee'ing on him but it had little effect other than a few muttered words about the rain.

he was finally woken from his slumbers as we hit the swell as we started to push offshore, although that too was a brief moment of consciousness, preceded by a trip to Pansy's Posh Privvy, now replete with its door once again, although minus lights, when the door fell off it broke the light switch. The life of any wood boring organisms that may of been on board were well and truly extinguished by what emanated from that area shortly afterwards. Both wheelhouse doors were pinned open to ease our pain and watering eyes as No2 was being bounced about in the dark trying to wipe his bum. OK too much information!

we've removed a couple of tons of ballast that was stashed high up in the f'ocsle and the old girl is sitting about 6" higher in the water and has had the unexpected bonus of improving handling considerably as well. So with No 2 now sleeping off the excesses in the wheelhouse we headed for the 8-10 mile wrecks. There's been that much water coming down the Tyne from all the recent rain the sea was chocolate coloured for the first couple of miles. managed to rouse the crew to action stations and first drop was off a wreck about 8 miles out, plenty of good sized mackeral but not much else. the plan was to hop the wrecks back towards the inshore rough ground. The crew weren't too keen, and glowed green at me to emphasise this so it was back inshore straight away, onto the rough ground and attempted to catch cod using the lying down on deck with your eyes closed method. At which point I guessed it was time to call it a day and give it up, so back in the marina bang on High tide. At least the batteries got recharged and we know the steering is finally sorted.

So this weeks plan is to ditch some more ballast, move some other ballast about a bit, and have another go. There will be cod aboard the Pansy soon I tell thee, even if its from the chippy on North Shields Fish Quay

so thats what that switch does....

Did some exploring in the bilges t'other day, as you do, and came upon a mystery white box. Aye aye, sez I, whats in here then??

lord lucan's missing millions?, some previous owners souvenirs from columbia and ecuador?.... neither I'm sad (and possibly a bit embarrassed) to say. there was some wires coming out of the box, traced these hither and thither and discovered, eventually, a switch on the end of them, well I say discovered, it was actually slap bang in the middle of the big fancy switch console.

so what's in the box... a bilge pump, right in the bit where we took all the water on the way back down, now if we'd spotted the switch earlier, we would have had dry bovril and clean pants in Peterhead. Thing is though the switch is labeled 'shower tray drain pump' as opposed to 'bilge pump' or 'sinking prevention activation' something sensible like that. I should of had me suspicions earlier though, Pansy hasn't got a shower!

Having a movement down below

No 2 has very brown hands today by all accounts, fumbling around in the bowels where that sun don't shine... The ballast from the forecabin, as yet untouched by the hand of 'trawler conversion', has been relocated apparently. All good stuff been itching to get this wee little hidey hole converted. The crew accommodation in a motor fifie was shoe horned in there originally so now its been cleared, be nice to get it converted into something useful, small brig for mutinous crew members perhaps, fetish room for the ships gimp maybe?? who knows. was just trying to recap in my head earlier where we are at since we got her here...... re-caulked the bits that were leaky on the starboard side, but still need to sort the port side bits out, drilled some drainage holes in the bottom(!) so if we do get out fishing and she takes a bit of water its not as big a problem as there's now clear ways through the frames for the water to get to the bilge pumps so we can keep on top of it. Seeing more and more MFV type boats coming on the market as the fishing industry collapses which is a bit sad, but hopefully might mean a few spare parts appearing from those that get scrapped, just little insignificant things that we may need soon, like a new gearbox, shaft, prop, fuel tanks, that sort of thing!

match abandoned

Well, like I said, best laid plans of mice and men.... it just didn't happen. Everything aboard ship shape and ready for the off, Drilled some more holes in the bottom of the boat so any water we might take would have somewhere to go, I even tidied up and bought some extra bovril. But Alas it was not to be, No2 decided to partially explode and put himself in hospital. I got the the call midday Friday, "a hospital" I said, "what is it?" "a big building full of sick people" says No2, "but thats not important right now"

Something to do with Stones in his kidneys or something. although I'm still unsure how he managed to shove them up there, as the requisite orifice is usually exit only, not certain I really want to know the answer anyway, The contents of a mans pants are his own business I reckon

oh well, we'll have another go soon hopefully. Although, with there being an outside chance that said stones may return, and the usually remedy is vibration/soundy type things to break them up I've bought a baseball bat and some Gracie Fields CD's so we can maybe effect a cure on board

here fishy fishy fishy

right then, best laid plans of mice and men. Hydraulics No 4 looks good to go, final adjustments to make tomorrow, need to construct a rubber mount for the shaft to dampen any stray vibrations and that's it sorted. It will unfortunately mean I will have to cut the Gusset out of one of the crew's Gimp suits in order to provide rubber of sufficient density, but its a sacrifice they'll have to bare

So saturday we're going to have a wee fish and see whats what. New crew members coming along as well hopefully. I've informed them they might want to bring their own toilet door with them in case they get taken short, and if they have their own steering systems even better.

Finally Back in the Tyne

And with many thanks to Tommy Neptune for the picture, Pansy making her entrance to the tyne

What Smoking Ban??

Its been a strange few weeks since we got back, all manner of calamities preventing us from getting to grips with the old girl and from getting the blog updated, such that I've now taken to advising anyone that meets me to visit both their doctor and their accountant after seeing me for fear of both death, major illness or bankruptcy!

finally got to have a peruse of some of the pics No 3 took on the way, and one or 2 immediately leapt as being worth sharing. Now the old girl has been sat on the canal for a good while, the engine seldom dooing more than ticking over, so having negotiated the Muirtown locks in Inverness the basin present the first opportunity to open the throttle a bit and get her moving. I think she might of been a bit constipated, no a problem, well not for us anyway, the sea scouts in the basin might think differently - sorry boys ;D

They may show a little compassion though, as once out at sea this is where I could be found for the first day or so, how I didn't succomb tot he black sea phlegm as well is a major achievement

Need to get a proper gallery of sorts stuck on here to stick the rest of the pics up, although, picture taking did end rather abruptly off Rattray as our photgrapher, No 3, found himself a little over come by the emotion of it all or something!

his last contribution of that bit of the voyage was taken as the sea started to get a bit grumpy and the wheelhouse started to get a washdown and that was a few hours before it really picked up and the water feature took on a life of its own!

wee vid clip captured as we passed fraserburgh, a few hours before we hit the lump 'proper' off Rattray, by which time holding a camera and not falling over became a bit too challenging

On a more positive note, Hydraulics Mk4 looks like we might have finally nailed it, so roll on the weekend, weather looks good and hopefully the fish will be wanting to come aboard for a visit

Crispins Revenge

Maybe the yacht Crispin has supernatural powers and has read the comments from Peterhead, but strange things have been afoot recently. Had a wee jaunt down the river to give the MK3 hydraulic steering system a go, lovely day, plod out of the piers, bit of a roll on but nothing we can't handle, No 2 goes below only to be attacked by the kharzi door as it leapt from its hinges and landed on top of him, I was at the wheel at the time and just heard the screams from below, and had to admit to being disbelieving initially, but twas true, No 2 had been poleaxed by the bog door - Crispins revenge perhaps. catch for the day mackeral and a lavvy door. Hydraulic problems still plaguing us, 28 point turn in a river half a mile wide in a strong cross tide, but managed to get back in without hitting anything!

Too Much Information

So, we got back, have recovered and done a few bits of work on the old girl, but maybe some introductions are in order.

Pansy actually has 2 proud new masters (or possibly servants :-/ ) No.1 (from the journey back) is me, No.2 (also from the journey back) is Charlie, who might at some point pipe himself aboard and add some of his own erudite wisdom to these pages, No.3 was merely a conscript we dragged along with us, tried to kill, tried to kill some more, and have subsequently press ganged into being a full time crew member and doer of, err... stuff

Nearly time to get her back out there and let her do her stuff on the fishy front we hope. We've spent a fair bit of time with her, patching her up, and modifying her steering. Well I say modifying, we've thrown most of it away and started again. more of that later.

the usual order of work is as follows, arrive late, usually well after midday, wait for someone else to turn up, have a fag, sit on deck and discuss works for the day, maybe have a beer and a fag, discuss works for the a bit more, wonder who lives aboard the other liveaboard boats, possibly another beer and a fag (can you see a pattern emerging?) but at some point work will actually commence. We do adhere to strict Elf and Safety Guidelines you will be pleased to hear, break times in between work are limited to no more than 75 minutes, and we ensure all involved have a break every 15 minutes so as no to cause any undue stress. The rebels that we are, we actually smoke and have the odd beer whilst working - rock and roll eh! :D

we've achieved a huge amount so far in terms of things we aren't going to do, so that's been very productive, and have actually done some stuff we are going to do as well. Charlie has learn the sticky delights of mixing up white lead putty and squidgying it in to iffy looking seams, we patched up the original hydraulics and managed to get her turned around so she's now pointing the right way for a swift get away if we need one. the forward hatch has been rubber back to bare wood and oiled, the forward cabin has been emptied of the clutter that was, well cluttering to reveal a few secrets, a multitude of redundant seacocks, handy in case we need to scuttle her while on a top secret mission I suppose, about 2 tons of scrap iron as ballast, and worst of all, the dreaded rot. one very rotten deck beam, the top of one frame that's well on its way and a couple of dodgy knees, which is exactly what I've got after hammering fresh caulking into the seams yesterday. least it looks like it's big enough cabin to fit a cosy double berth in at some point. But yes, caulking commenced (and finished) yesterday, and the seams nicely sealed up. lick of paint over the patched up bits and she'll look heaps healthier

Down in my little hole, major engineering has been progressing. All 4 fuel tanks are now connected up and talking to each other and after much trawling around (sic!) we managed to find a new fabby hydraulic pump, which surprisingly came from a redundant MFV, trawler, fishing boat type thing, maybe it was meant to be, although there's a small niggle though as it is quite large, well very large, just lifteable single handedly, but is now in place, properly mounted and aligned with the engine, but is still an incomplete installation, we're short of one small pipe fitting to give her a proper test. Fingers crossed it'll just do the do, I guess the worst that can happen is it sucks so hard it will flatten the tanks and devour them and the rest of the boat with it in the finest cartoon tradition... So gonna try track down a pipe fitting tomorrow, and give it a test run, if all's well, I'll drain the lentil soup ( or it could be oxtail) that is stored in the hydraulic oil reserve tank, well thats what it looks like, and I'm guessing isn't a good thing, and replenish with a drum of the nice posh (expensive) high temperature slippery stuff

Zulu or Fifie

Had a comment from someone wondering wether she might be a Zulu, not a fifie, I always believed she was a Motor Fifie, but the rake on the stern post gives it all away apparently and this one could be either, so maybe she's a Zufie. A year or 2 a go I lumped them all with the monicker "Scottish MFV" Clearly lots to learn still!