Alwyn Vintcent Changing Shape!†† By Andy Selfe

Saturday 9th July 2011†††

At long last, there is something to show for all our preparations! We started the day with our vessel looking like this:

And by early afternoon, she looked like this:

This was as a result of a strong team from the Villiersdorp Tractor & Engine Club working smoothly with a well-equipped group from our main supporters, Machine Moving & Engineering (MME), and impeccable planning by Port Captain Steven Bentley. The weather was also perfect!

Planning started early in the week; a meeting was held on board with Port Captain Steven Bentley, Keith Wetmore from Somerset Timbers and Johannes Uys from MME along with a group of his workers, as he would not be able to be there on Saturday. Logistics were discussed, including moving the vessel to the Ďknuckleí next to the Coca-Cola man and access to that site for cranes and lorries. Discussion also revolved around how much transport would be needed to bring away all that we planned to remove. In the end it was decided that one lorry with a 7m load platform and the various bakkies used for people to travel in, would be enough.

On Friday morning, Steven Bentley received a call that a Harbour Tug was available to move our Tug, between Ďmovementsí of other vessels during that day (56 in total!). In 7Ĺ minutes, he was on board with a team, Alwyn Vintcent was attached to that Tug and untied from SAS Somerset! It was a pity that we couldnít record that in pictures, but it all happened too quickly!

It was still dark when we arrived to start uncovering our vessel, as the shade net would be in the way of the cutting and lifting. It took a lot less time to remove than it had to install! The MME team was there soon after, with a hired generator which was quickly connected (why do your own plugs never correspond with the ones on a hired set?) and the Plasma Cutter was on board. MME had brought a Liebherr crane and a Fassi truck-mounted crane; both would be indispensable, but then MME knows their job!

Using a rigger in a cradle, the funnel was soon attached to the crane with slings and we had disconnected the stays between it and the masts and the deck below. Eniel was busy cutting, first the inner funnel, then the outer one, not forgetting the original chimney from the galley which also used to pass up the chimney. For safety, the two were chained together at the bottom and the funnel was ready to be lifted away.

This left a large gaping hole!

Loading the funnel horizontal on to the lorry was a test of the coordination between Leon Flynn on the lorry crane and the crane operator.

Meanwhile, the crane truck was busy removing smaller items, first the Captainís Cabin superstructure which we had bolted loose some months before. So absorbed were we that we didnít even notice we had an audience of pretty girls on a Dragon Boat!

Other smaller items which were cut or freed off† and lifted away were the ventilators,

†Ö. the life raft launchers,

Ö. and the masts.

These were difficult to cut, being double-layer tubing amounting to about 20mm in thickness!

There was also a semi-circular bracket under the towing hook to cut away, as its legs were attached to the Engine Room cover and the ends of the circle were bolted to the rest of the superstructure. The Engine Room cover will be lifted off separately during our next session of stripping.

Attention then shifted to the bows to remove the anchor winch, the bolts of which had been cut by Gavin some weeks ago. There was still some cutting to do and it was first reluctant to come away, but soon that was on the quayside.

The anchors were the next to be lifted out. Tim Delport climbed down onto the flukes and after removing the remains of the netting and yet more cormorant nests, soon had a sling around each.

The crane had to take up the slack, so that we could remove the retaining bar across the deck. Thomas knows the signals, it seems!

The Anchors could be dropped out and lifted away.

The removal of the combined weight of the winch and the anchors made the bows lift noticeably out of the water!

We hadnít finished in the bows, though! We have to cut away the coaming so the woven rope Ďpusherí had to be removed. One of our members, Pieter Fourie informs us that these are made on one piece of rope, he has made one! Loosening the chains at the top was easy. Even after a long time, the D-shackles came loose with a Leatherman, but we discovered there was still a chain below.

Now Tim had nothing to climb on to, to loosen it off; the anchors were gone! The problem was easily solved by him going down in the basket suspended from the crane.

By this time, the plasma cutter was giving trouble so we decided there was no point in holding back the team from MME, who had the generator on their truck. They had throughout been efficient and helpful and what we mostly appreciated was their willingness to allow us to help with the rigging as has been described above. All this time the crane truck had been busy loading Enielís lorry. In the end, he had the last laugh; there was only one lorry load, with a few smaller pieces returning on the bakkies.

This left the job of tying the load down, and who better qualified than a Master Mariner?

Here, Port Captain Steven Bentley is seen tying the load down on Enielís truck, watched over by Mr Coca-Cola!

We had been observed and indeed assisted during the day by Mike Wood who was visiting the harbour for the day from Struisbaai. He kindly took this Team Photo for us!

At this point, Enielís wife and daughter, Juan and Daniella, arrived with an enormous bucket of the Colonelís Best Chicken which was greatly appreciated!† We still had to cover the gaping holes we had made, for fear of the vessel filling up with water! The main holes we covered with plastic sheeting; the funnel and Captainís Cabin, but otherwise we closed over the ventilator trunks, now facing upwards, with netting. Itís the rainy season here!

We didnít have the materials to cover the boat with netting again, besides it wonít be long before we lift off the superstructure. It remained for us to tow our Tug back by hand, out of the way of the entrance to the Robinson Dry Dock and to tie her up again. She will be moved back when the first Harbour Tug is available.

Once again, Many Thanks to the team from MME and to Harbour Captain Steven Bentley for all their assistance, freely given!

Andy Selfe

10th July 2011

Photos mostly by Keith Wetmore





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