Security Problems!   By Andy Selfe

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17th September 2011


Our vessel had been moved this week to the quay in front of the Cape Grace Hotel, and in line with trawlers and other vessels near the Synchrolift. After all these years of a charmed life tied up in obscurity behind SAS Somerset, it was a disappointing blow to find her broken into and badly pillaged inside for copper and brass!


Our first idea of trouble was evident as we arrived: hinge pins knocked out of the fo’c’s’tle doors and the doors forced open:



On inspection inside, the brass companionway railings had been sawn off and ripped out. Worse was to come: the Boiler Room doors had been forced and access had been made to the Engine Room:



Two gauges were ripped off the control panel and smashed to get the brass as well as the copper pipes which connect them to various places had been ripped off and taken. This is all that remains of these gauges:



The glass of the Engine Room Telegraph had been smashed and much other small bore pipework stolen, including these pipes to the Main Bearings:



Where we had arrived expecting to scrub the vessel down in preparation for next week’s Boat Show, and to cover two apertures to keep the weather out, we suddenly had a different agenda! We systematically removed every single hinge pin on the engine room hatches and every other door or hatch and replaced them with steel bolts which Gavin went out to buy and we welded in. On most hatches and doors we welded the hasps together as well as refitting locks, and in some cases, welded the inner catches to the door frames.



We threaded a rod through all the ‘wing-nuts’ of the lower sides of the engine room hatches as well. The ends were folded over and welded into loops.



We managed to close the water-tight bulkhead between the Boiler and Engine Room from the Engine Room side which should restrict any movement inside the vessel; it wasn’t easy to close!



We still did the jobs we had set out to do, with Willem and Eric scrubbing the decks from stem to stern, and the rest of us, Gavin, Steven and me covering the space where the Captain’s Cabin superstructure was removed last time, this time with steel bars threaded through bolt holes and meshes wired to them, before covering them with plastic sheeting, in turn held down by wooden cover strip nailed to the deck:



We welded rods to the opening at the funnel and again wired meshes to them and covered the area with plastic sheeting attached with cable ties.



We had arranged the day before for the lock on the gate from the Hotel parking area to be removed and wired to restrict access. When we arrived, the gate was open and there was no wire. However, there’s nothing at all to restrict the crews of the vessels tied up to the same quay from going on board. We wired the gate up before leaving, as arranged:



The big worry now is that thieves know there’s a King’s Ransom of copper and brass on board and whether our welding will keep them out, remains to be seen. Apart from what’s behind doors and hatches, there are brass covers on the decks (we covered some with plastic sheeting) and railings. The Wheelhouse would just have to have a window smashed for access. And what about her name on bow and stern?


Andy Selfe

17th September 2011