The Jury is out on this one

so, we're in peterhead, quick scrub up in the shower (the "Yacht Crispin" left a floater BTW), and off for some badly needed sustenance, a curry is what was needed so woke the security guard (sorry!) to ask him if he knew where might be good, he didn't, he usually sleeps in a security hut in Aberdeen apparently, but curry was found, eaten, then back to Pansy land for some sleep, tiptoeing quitely past the security gurad so as not to wake him a second time ;)

monday dawned bright and clear, yesterdays sea, sea phlegm and lifejackets but a distant memory, the old girl is fired up, cast off, topped up with more diesel, clearance given from the Harbour master and were offski

out through the pier and away south... for a short while anyway, the next calamity was not long in coming, the newly fitted hydraulic pump, decided it didn't like us anymore an went on strike totally. no hydraulics = no steering. now this could be interesting! Another few hundred miles of the North Sea and no steering, fantastic.

so all hands on deck and round the back to see what can be achieved. Quite a lot actually. with what bits an pieces of junk that had remained on board from when we bought her, a makeshift tiller was quickly knocked together. Thank god for cable ties and gaffa tape.

but steering from behind the wheelhouse would be no fun at all. especially in the long dark hours ahead, something else was needed, so the Jury riggged tiller on this old MFV was extended. ropes were lashed to the 'tiller', various old blocks and shackles were rounded up, and the ropes fed around and into each door of the wheelhouse so now, by pulling a rope one way or another we could steer. Phenomenal achievement I reckon:

so we're still going south! Thought it worthwhile to give the coastguard a call, and let him know three madmen in a 70 year old boat with no steering were loose on their patch. At this point a big up to Aberdeen Coastguard! they were superb and couldn't have been more helpful, we discussed our options safe havens, other traffic and the like, and decided to press on. Every 2 hours they'd give us a shout, check out position, course speed etc and wish us well. so that was it. the next leg was another 27 hours non stop run, taking 2 hours shifts to pull the ropes and keep us on course. All was going swimmingly well till in the middle of night, whilst freezing our nuts off because we couldn't close the wheelhouse doors, first the radar then us spies something heading our way, so its pitchy black, we're 20 miles offshore, vaguely heading south ( the gps had gone the journey and this was done the old fashioned way -charts and compass) and steaming in an 'us' sort of direction is one of those modern monsters of the deep know as an Oil Tanker. Now there's some rules at sea at night about having bonny coloured lights so other vessels can work out who you are, what your doing and where you heading. this oil tanker must of been very tired though, because for the life of us, we still reckon he was making way using the 'lying down' method. his lights were all over the place, and non of us had a clue. We eve resorted to some of those things called books to see if that would help, it didn't.

All I can say is the lights got bigger, and bigger, until we were so close it was fairly obvious what direction they were heading, there may even have been someone on deck pointing as well, but collision narrowly averted, we steamed on, the lights of berwick starting to glimmer on the horizon, and the dull grey of dawn starting to show itself. it had been a long long night, with a bit of daylight and my shift over I decided to treat myself to some of that stuff they call sleep, and managed an hour or so, being awoken by our 2 hourly call from the coastguard and witnessing No2 put the microphone to his ear in order to hear what was being said. but the day dawned clear and bright, the seas flat and kind, and the rest of the journey being almost with incident, apart from a mile or so from the Tyne where we didn't really run out of Diesel ;);)

get you priorities right for gawds sake...

so there we are bouncing around, watching the water feature develop in the saloon - I can now confirm that the noise of running water is neither pacifying nor relaxing, all but ready to say pretty please to the harbour master to let us in despite the fact some oil carrying behemoth is on its way out when the radio crackles into life and proceedings are interrupted by the 'Yacht Crispin", now, you have to read this imagining the voice on the other being that of Paul Whitehouse doing an impression of Noel Coward (I think the name of the boat gives a lot away here):
"Peterhead harbour, Peterhead harbour, this is they Yacht Crispin..... we can't get into the toilet"

I kid yee not, here I am, surrounded by the Black SeaPhlegm, a pseudo michelin man practicing to be a contortionist with a lifejacket, monstrous seas, in a sinking boat, with little steering, and the poor yacht crispin can't get into the lavvy for fecks sake

"Peterhead harbour, Peterhead harbour, this is they Yacht Crispin..... so can some one come do and bring us a key for the toilet"

howay man, do you posh yotties not have posh netties on board?? we've got one and we're sinking, at this point it was sheer disbelief at what was unfolding that prevented me from informing what I was going to do to him with a toilet should we ever survive long enough

"Peterhead harbour, Peterhead harbour, this is they Yacht Crispin..... so when 'the man' brings the key, how will we know who he is, and how do the showers work in the toilets"

Priceless, you want a shit AND a shower now, despite the fact davey jones is knocking on Pansy's bottom, and we can't get a word in edgeways to avoid it. Peterhead harbourmaster though, managed to placate the the "Yacht Crispin" and his emerging tortoises head long enough for him to keep off the radio so we could be invited in to the sanctuary of peterhead harbour.

shortly after a small bout of hysteria broke out, closely followed by single malt. We didn't sink or die, No 3 didn't succumb to death by Sea Phlegm and No 2 didn't garrot himself with a lifejacket, so all in all not a bad afternoon at sea really.

The old Girl did get many admiring glances in the marina despite the mega bucks plastic she was surrounded by, including one chap that had worked on her in the past, which was a welcome distraction. First task was to get some extra bilge pumps going to get rid of the water feature/jacuzzi/footspa, and then break out the sikaflex (or toothpaste to No2) and try fill in some of the seams that had been blown out in the sea we'd just survived. No wonder she took on water, the top edge between the top blank and decking has gone completely in one place, leaving a gap as wide as the scuppers and 3 foot long. no wonder she took some water on board. caulked this with some mooring rope, covered it in Sika, and jobs a good un. More toothpaste applied to some lesser seams that had been battered. No 3 was sent below with a cat litter tray scoop to chase the richards around the rapidly receding water level before they stuck to the floor, no 2 chased the lemon that has previously been spotted bobbing around down there and polished it before putting it back on a shelf, all whilst I played catch up with smoker of the year 2008.

In retrospect, this first part of the trip was the easy bit in light of what was to come!

so we got here

had be meaning to post a few bits and pieces about the trip back, but only just recovered!!

but we got here any way, and it was certainly eventful, had to pay an unexpected ransom demand to just get out of the canal which we weren't expecting, just shy of £150 to use 2 sets of locks! but we coughed up and got out about 11am on saturday 3rd may, and things went swimmingly... for a while, nice sunshine, light winds, dolphins doing dolphin things as we past chanory point.

If only things had stayed that way, first disaster didn't take long, we (I say we, it was someone else onboard) managed to set fire to the posh white vinyl seating that had adorned the deck, putting it all way safely behind the wheelhouse seemed a sound idea, leaning it against a big hot exhaust pipe around the back of the wheelhouse was probably less so. Took a while before anyone smelt burning, but luckily, smelt it was and the first disaster was averted.:oops:

the gentle cruise along the moray firth gave us time to have a good old poke about and see what surprises there might be stashed away on board that we'd not discovered... first discovery was a fireguard! Who needs a fireguard on a boat?? oh yeah we do in case we set fire to the seating obviously:crazy:

then things started to get really interesting... the 'Heath Robinson' Hydraulic system that someone had newly fitted, well I say heath robinson, heath robinson was famed for ad-hoc constructions that actually worked, anyway, the hydraulic system decided it was bored and didn't want to play anymore, so steering became, err... unusual lets say. by this time its 7pm or so, and a quick look at the charts and the first reasonable harbour we can get into is.... Whitehills of all places, its where the old girl was born, bred and did her stuff for all those years, so eventually changed course and headed in. I think she knew where she was going as she went straight in to the very narrow harbour and up against the wall like she'd only done it yesterday.

so we got a night in Whitehills, lively little pub, even met a former owner too, all good omens you'd think.. Sadly that was probably the high point, from here on in things just got, well worse really.

Up and off with the tide and out we went, past all her old haunts, macduff, buckie, fraserborugh and all in between... things on the weather front were not behaving as predicted, the gentle F3 to F4, and slight to moderate seas, were long gone.

so around the corner we go into the horros that were to become Rattray head in a lcoalised F7 to F8 and rough to very rough... Blimey :-/88|88|

it just got bigger and bigger! One of our team of hardened sea dogs succumbed to an attack of the Black SeaPhlegmitis and lay on the floor, rising only to reach for another fag and cast expletives at the sea, the second team member, Diligently donned floatation suit and had a fight with a lifejacket, the lifejacket won, but was reduced to a knotted mess of straps, buckles and vinyl before being offered to me by crew member No2, as he reached for another one to put on instead. But the old girl just ploughed into the stuff, waves combing over the gunnels and up through the scuppers... At this point we realised that the pounding from the sea had blown out much of the Caulking above the water line where the planks had been drying out nicely in the canal for the last couple of years, and we were taking water... lots of water, we had at one point a municipal paddling pool 6" deep in the saloon, repleat with municipal paddling pool turds bobbing around nicely. I told the boys they were turds any way , at this time they would believe anything I told them "look there's a kangaroo swimming in the bilges"

but on she went, the fishfinder telling me things I didn't want to know... at one moment 70 feet, the next 110 feet then 70 again. thats quite a big swell, with matching waves for what its worth

prayers were offered to my recently departed father, more cigarettes were smoked ( I nominate No2 and No3 for smoker of the year awards) and yeah verily delivereth us unto peterhead, whereupon a request to the harbour master to enter is met with a "you'll have to stand off as we are towing a tanker out" errr.. run that by me again, stand off?? out here?? in this sea, whilst filling with water?? are you quite mad

Unfortunately, i didn't get a chance to runt ha scenario past the harbour master as the yacht "Crispin", safely tucked up in Peterhead marina, was embarked on an epic crisis of their own..... to be continued!

Pikey's Afloat

so we buy this lovely old girl, a real veteran breadwinner of hardy stock, intent on giving her the love she deserves and restoring her to her former glory. A boat that boaty people should be proud to look on... Apparently not, turned away from the marina because it might offend the sensibilities of the plastic gin swilling platforms that decorate the water.

Wood?? EEEWWW how provincial and last century, and as for wanting to liveaboard a boat, an old scottish MFV trawler type boat as well

2 Sad Days In A Row.

But every cloud as they say.......

not long now

OK, 7 days to D day, departure that is. be a doddle, just a few million quids worth of yachts to untangle ourselves from, turn a round a boat thats nearly as long as the Caley is wide, negotiate a load of locks and bridges and then hit the sea... in a boat that so far we've (well me) driven about, ooohh, must of been 6 inches, maybe a foot, when I threw it in gear to see if it was working. It'll be a breeze!

Got the 2nd mortgage sorted out to fill the 4 cavernous fuel tanks. That said, the way diesel prices are going up, we can probably sell whats left at a profit by the time we get back. The Victualing operation is now nearing completion, got 2 packs of instants bovril, a tin of hot dogs and some water biscuits. Have stuck some charts on the wall at mission control (our kitchen) so the bairns can track our progress. Can't wait!


Once upon a time....

Another pic found on the internet, shows here in her heyday, when she was fishing out of Whitehills:
If we can get her back to looking something like, then we'll be happy

She was clearly well thought of in her home port of Whitehills, the local paper ran this story last time she visited:

many thanks to Billy Milne for the pics

not long now

so, the paperwork is done and she's all ours. Another 700 mile round trip this weekend, fitted some more electronic wizardry and had a good old poke about in anticipation of the voyage back to the Tyne. so we slept on a Pansy for the weekend, least I was on top :D (slept in the wheelhouse!) Trying to fill the holes in her history still, have spoken to yard that did all the work a few years back and they remember her well, which I hope is a good sign!

No sign of the missing masts though. also found she's on the register of historic ships as well. There's another Herring Drifter on there thats very similar to Pansy, so might be useful for reference

Got mayday weekend pencilled in for the trip, there's an irony there I suppose... Mayday... wonder what the coastguard reply would be?... "Yes, and...???" maybe leave it till the day after to be on the safe side.

now starts the planning for the refit cum restoration. where the hell do you find masts to match a 70 year old Fifie? have had my eye on the telegraph poles outside the house for a few days now, so that might be a solution

this is her as is now though, in the caley doing a 75 point turn or something

In the Beginning...

well not in the beginning, a bit later, well 1938 actually, Pansy BF494 was built by the Macduff Engineering Co. She was built for J Wiseman and others of Whitehills and as far as we can see, had no other owners or name/number until she was sold to a Peter Cull of Hartlepool in 1971. The dimensions given on her original registration card are: length 37' 5" (reg) 45' 9" (overall); keel 38' 7"; breadth 14' 7"; depth 6'; gross tonnage 14.88; Kelvin 66 BHP diesel.

Motor Fifie
Motor Fifie Pansy In whitehills harbour

She fished very successfully with the Wiseman family out of whitehills for many years until finally retiring.

Unsure of when she was finally decommissioned still, but she went through a few hands before she landed in ours, and went downhill for quite a while, but survived, and has had quite a bit lavished on her in the last ten years. The original wheelhouse was replaced sometime in the 1980's from what we can gather, and a first conversion to a pleasure / liveaboard took place, at which point she ended looking like this:

I have heard tell of the state she was in at this time and the decks having the watershedding properties of a tea bag, a tale which may hold more than a little truth with all the upholstery being hung out to dry on the rigging! So she lay in these state for a while, getting gradually worse and at one point was a near total loss when she went aground near the Kessock Bridge in Inverness, but she changed hands again and the previous owner set about putting her back to rights, so she was out of the water and up on the blocks for some extensive and much needed TLC, a lot of replanking, many new frames, new deck timbers, another new wheelhouse, and sadly for us, the masts were removed - something we're keen to re-instate as soon as we can find some!