We’ve Moved!

August 28, 2011

We’ve moved!

Well, only temporally and only to the other side of the dock. British Waterways very kindly nudged us across to moor up in front of the Lord Amory until mid-September.

The advantage is that we now get the sun on the boat all day, which makes painting and cleaning a quicker and far more pleasurable, job. The disadvantage is that it’s key entry to get onto the dock (and Chris has the only one) which means we can’t catch the eye of passers by who wander up to take a look at Portwey. We will be back in the old berth after the weekend steaming for the Thames Festival on the 10th/11th September. We have been told that we will (probably) be moving again before the 2012 Olympics as berth space will be at a premium and it looks like we will move into one of the Millwall docks – more when it happens!

Repair and restoration work continues at a pace both below deck and topside. A lot of the starboard steel work has been needle gunned and repainted, the transom has had a lick of paint and I’m still working on cleaning and repainting the aft cabin roof. It would be nice to show some photos of the work but I forgot to take any. No change there then.

Hopefully I’ll be crewing for one of the Thames Festival dates and will try to remember my camera. Honest.

 Looking out from the aft cabin at The Lord Amory. Close innit!


A Diversion

July 10, 2011

A wander around the Isle of Dogs will show just how much the area has changed in the last two decades or so but some of the old
Isle does survive. From Island Gardens DLR station you can pick up the Thames Path and head eastwards. A five or ten minute stroll brings you to Newcastle Drawdock.


Built as part of Cubitt’s initial development of the riverside in the 1840s, this drawdock is constructed of brick, with wooden buttressing to the south-west wall and rendered buttressing to the north-east one. The dock has a Grade II listing, as have the four original bollards at the dock entrance on Saunders Ness Road.

Immediately behind the dock is The Waterman’s Arms.

This is described by britishlistedbuuildings.co.uk as,

“Mid C19. Exterior now rendered and painted red, tiled ground floor, roof not visible. Blocking course has Waterman’s Arms in large letters. Painted signboard at corner. Facade to Glenaffric Avenue, 3 storeys, 3  windows, those of 1st floor, French casements with labels, centre with triangular pediment. Cast iron balcony to each window. Above, band, sash windows (one blank) with glazing bars and architraves 1 storey portion at western side.
Facade to Saunders Ness Road similar but no blank on 2nd floor and continuous cast iron balcony on scrolled brackets to 1st floor windows.”

All of which does sum up the building accurately, if rather uninspiringly, but misses out a significant chunk of its modern history. The pub was the Newcastle Arms until it was bought by the writer and broadcaster, Daniel Farson, in the early 1960s. Not understanding that it had been named after the drawdock, he renamed it The Waterman’s Arms and turned it into a famous live music venue. Having lost vast amounts of money on the project he then sold it and moved to Devon. He did, however, write a fascinating book entitled Limehouse Days, all about his time at the pub and his life in the East End.

Just beyond the pub on Manchester Road lies Christ Church.

Built by William Cubitt in 1852, it is a grand example of good, solid Pugin-esque Gothic. The interior shows the how impressive this kind of building can be. And it has one of the great organ-lofts!

This grouping of drawdock, pub and church represents possibly the last example of the three bedrocks of the old Isle of Dogs – work, recreation and salvation.

Meanwhile back on Portwey…

“Are you SURE this bit goes here?”

The Times They Are…

March 31, 2011

Well, the clocks have gone forward which SHOULD herald the start of Spring but, looking out of the window, there still seems a way to go. So “what’s been happening on the boat?” I hear you cry. Well, work on the engine room skylight has moved on apace with the first coat of gloss, so it now needs a rub-down with fine paper then the top-coat can be slapped on. Kate has been doing great work in cleaning and painting the engine room/aft cabin bulkhead and Steve T has been going at the fore cabin brass work like a man possessed – photos to follow. Deep in the bowels of the boiler room, Chris and Dennis have been trying to see if the starboard condenser doors can be repaired rather than recast. The big news is that the aft bilges have been cleaned! Who says this work isn’t glamorous eh?

We also took the fore bumper off to see if there was any wear. As you can see from the photos below it looks as good as new. (Sigh).

If anyone has a Granny who can knit with needles as thick as telegraph poles and who would like to sit on a boat for an afternoon, please get in touch.

Took this picture of one of Portweys newer siblings – just goes to show that tugs still have a place on the River.



Meanwhile Down At The Dock…

March 3, 2011

Well the weather may be on the brink of turning for the better but on board the paint brushes are out. As you can see from this photo the Engine Room skylight hatch is now repaired, filled, primed and ready for a topcoat.

We have even polished up the brass-work around the port holes! Not a lot can be done now until the weather does take a turn for the better as the next step will be to strip and repair the rest of the hatch, and for that we need dry and hopefully warm weather. We also need the better weather to continue the never ending fight against rust as using electrical equipment in the rain is NOT recommended. A major task will be repairing the fore cabin door way. As this photo shows it needs a tad more than just a wipe over with a damp cloth!

Not all gloom’n’doom though as we did get quite a spectacular sunset which lit up some of the Canary Wharf buildings.

Anyway that’s the lot for this week.

Carry on.

Finally…back to Portwey.

February 13, 2011

After a long bout of being ill and life in general getting in the way, finally made it back down to Portwey this week and enjoyed one of John’s ‘special’ brews whilst catching up with the gossip. The movement of the port-side engine is still under discussion. There are now two schools of thought. One is that it does move, and other is that it doesn’t. So that’s solved that then. Wether it moves or not we do need to get under the plate-work to inspect the state of the engine mounts as it’s unlikely this has been done since the old girl took to the water back in ’27. Onto more mundane  matters, I’ve been back with the paint on some of the engine fixtures and fittings – no photos as:
1) how boring is it to watch paint dry? and
2) forgot the bally camera!
More general tidying up and painting on-going on both hatches (again no photos yet). Also helped pumping out of the aft cabin bilges. Hedonists – that’s us!

Right, that’s the lot for this week.

Carry on.

PS..Coal Bunker Disco Roooocks!

Winter Comes to Portwey.

November 26, 2010

When the Winter arrives, get the stove on for a warm-up and a brew. Lovely.

Not much to report this week. Got the starboard aft condenser plate off and both plates will be going off for recasting. Started to re-paint some of the engine room plant. Too boring for photo’s.

Now, what’s the collective noun for a bunch of cormorants? No, me neither. Normally you see one or two of the buggers pottering about but Wednesday afternoon we had about 20 off ’em swimming around the dock.

John’s theory was that they were off on their Christmas outing.

(Just found out via Google that the collective noun is “a flight of cormorants”.)

Tempus..well you know the rest.

November 21, 2010

Yes, I know. But it’s not my fault. No, really. Well anyway due to circs. way beyond my control it has been a few weeks since I ankled down to the old girl. I have had an update from Richard though about the starboard condenser. It needs work – no surprise there then. The fore end cover has been removed and hopefully the aft end will be taken off in the next week or so and then the covers can be sent away to have patterns made and new covers cast and machined. Meanwhile here are photo’s of the aft end and cover.

And this week I WILL make it down to Portwey. Honest.