musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Dredger

Gloucester Harbour

It is strange to find a harbour so far from the sea, but then you really need to remember that the Severn is not a small river. Gloucester harbour is not a deep water port as I know it, but was built more as a harbour for barge and small vessel traffic. Unfortunately, like so many of these places the need for it became superfluous as the truck and better roads brought about a whole new way of moving goods from one place to another.  Even the railways were not immune to this new way, and Gloucester, like Tewkesbury and Cheltenham were all in the firing line of the Beeching axe

Today the harbour is a small boat and pleasure craft harbour, with a lot of narrow boats and yachts and small pleasure craft (aka floating gin palaces). However, the buildings remain, being converted into yuppie pads and trendy working areas or shops for those that are attracted to them.

Use the image above to get an idea of what this area looks like and realistically the easiest way to see the harbour is to use our fictional vessel: “Diverse Alarums” and start from where the River Severn splits and the left fork is the entrance to the locks that will enable us to enter the “Main Basin”

Do not be tempted to go to starboard because there be dragons. Seriously though, that part of the river may not be very navigable, as I saw trees drifting downstream along it. 

The lock also has a lifting vehicle bridge over it, as well as an associated control cabin. The road would take you to the back of the warehouses on the right bank of the Main Basin. I did not really explore that area too well though.

Assuming we were successful, the Diverse Alarums would exit into the “Main Basin” which has a number of interesting things in it.  The image of the basin below is looking towards the lock which would be in the top left hand corner.

Sailing down the basin, roughly midway there is a cut that is the entrance to the Victoria Dock. It is really just pleasure craft that are berthed there and is of no real interest to somebody like me who prefers working vessels. 

Going full astern to escape the the throng of very expensive craft we are safely back in the main basin. On the right hand side of the basin are two drydocks, and these are really fascinating places for somebody like me. I did a blog post about drydocks many moons ago and these two feature in that post. Today both docks were in use.

Ambulent

Just past the drydocks is what is known as the “Barge Arm”. It is occupied by a bucket dredger with the rather quaint name “SND no 4”

The building in the shot is home to the National Waterways Museum. I visited it in 2015 but I was not impressed. It seemed more geared towards young visitors instead of jaded oldies like myself. 

If we go astern again and turn back into the basin we will be presented by the Llanthony Bridge which is a lifting bridge. It is the third bridge at this site and was built in 1972. 

Exiting from this bridge the quay to our Starboard side is known as the Llanthony Quay and it was built in the early 1850s by the Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway Co., soon taken over by the GWR, to provide a means of supplying coal from the Forest of Dean as an export cargo.

Baker’s Quay would be on the port side and was constructed in the late 1830s by a group of local businessmen led by Samuel Baker at a time when the Canal Co. was heavily in debt and could not finance much needed additional quay-space.

(http://www.gloucesterdocks.me.uk/gloucester/docks.htm)

The red vessel in the distance is the former Spurn Head lightship that used to be moored at the mouth of the Humber Estuary. She was decommissioned in 1985, she has served as the headquarters of a yacht club and as a tourist attraction in various locations. She was extensively restored and converted into a treatment centre for alternative medicine under the name “Sula” and at the moment she is up for sale. If only I had vast amounts of money….

The area opposite her on Baker’s Quay is not accessible and recently a warehouse burnt down there. There is some serious foliage on the one building, 

I did walk into this area but there was not much to see except for the sort of space that would make any urbex buff smile knowingly.

If we had continued along past the Sula and the old warehouse buildings we would be facing the High Orchard Bridge. I have not gone much further than the lightship though. Maybe another day? I did see a sign for a Telford Bridge so need to do some investigating of that. 

It is  bascule bridge but I have not seen it raised yet. Beyond that I have no idea. At one point I will go on a boat trip downriver and see how far it gets us. There is quite a lot of interesting stuff down river but at this point we will disembark from our well found tub because our tour around the harbour is complete. The Gloucesterdocks website covers most of this in much better detail than I can and is well worth the visit.

Ships and small craft.

There are not too many vessels that catch my eye here, but some are worth showing.

This beauty is called Johanna Lucretia, she is a topsail schooner and was built in 1945 in Belgium.

Johanna Lucretia

Severn Progress  is a tug and was built in 1931 by Charles Hill & Sons Ltd, Bristol. Her low profile is necessary to sail under low bridges.

Severn Progress

Sabrina 5

FY86 White Heather

Halcyon

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© DRW 2015-2018. Created 04/06/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:58

That last voyage across the harbour

In March 1990 a group of us went down to Durban to see the arrival of the Cunard cruise ship Vistafjord arrive. By way of explanation, I was a member of what was then the Transvaal Branch of the World Ship Society. We would occasionally go down to Durban over a weekend to see ships. Many times it was to see a specific vessel with a visit organised, and it would usually incorporate a trip out on the pilot boat or one of the tugs. Most of the vessels we visited are listed on my ship visit book page at allatsea. These were the days of film so we were limited by how many pics we could take which depended on how much film we had or could afford to process. It was an expensive exercise, and I shot mostly slide film back then and conversions to digital media is not always successful. 

The subject of this post is about a short voyage we made across the harbour on board the dedger Ribbok. She was in her last days, and was laid up at the Ocean Terminal awaiting disposal. The berth she was in had to be vacated for Vistafjord, and we were “in the area” when the pilot arrived. He was an amiable Dutch guy and usually tolerated our puppy dog eyed pleading and would allow us on board.

On sea trials. (Image by Pete Bower)

On sea trials. (Image by Pete Bower)

Ribbok was a diesel electric suction dredger, built by Alexander Stephen & Sons Glasgow as Yard No 698, she was launched on 11 November 1961 and registered in Durban.  She was of 4594 grt, 1726 net, 5120 dwt. and just over 110 metres long with a beam of 18 metres and draught of just over 5,4 metres. (Clydesite.co.uk)

She was a regular sight in Durban and I would have loved to have spent a day on her, but dredgers are working vessels and really would have not been an ideal way to spend a day. 

Entering the harbour after a days work

Entering the harbour after a days work

Ribbok alongside

We boarded Ribbok and took up position, I no longer recall where, but we always kept out of the way of the crew or pilots during their work on a ship. The lines were singled and we were soon on our way, dead ship, with a tug at the bow and possibly the stern. The pilot remarked that the poor old girl was in a poor condition and that was obvious from the many rusted areas and plated over decking.

A last voyage

The vessel literally on top of the tug is the Estrella Do Mar, a small ferry that used to run up towards Zanzibar and Mozambique, she ended up in Durban in later years and we always hoped she would do coastals but that never happened. 

Then we were tied up alongside and we disembarked. We all felt saddened to see this stalwart like this, but unfortunately like so many ships before her there comes a time when she has to sail away forever. Ribbok had very little time left, she was broken up in July 1990 at Alang.

The replacement for Ribbok was the RE Jones, and amongst my images is an image of her alongside Ribbok. 

Bibbok inboard, RE Jones outboard

Bibbok inboard, RE Jones outboard

Unfortunately the scanner chopped off the bows of the pair but in the background you can see the Achille Lauro in her short lived StarLauro livery which puts this image at December 1989. I don’t think Ribbok ever wore the new corporate livery and had her SAR&H funnel livery till the end.

RE Jones underway in Durban

RE Jones underway in Durban

And what about Vistafjord? I have to admit I did find her somewhat of a disappointment, and I only really appreciated her when I saw her as Saga Ruby in Southampton in 2013.

Vistafjord arriving in Durban. march 1990

 

Saga Ruby sailing from Southampton 2013

And so our short voyage slipped away into memory, to resurface during a discussion at our tug group. Good memories, but a sad one too.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 15/09/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:37

View from a bridge.

Bridges: love them? or loathe them? Personally I love a good bridge, and I don’t only mean the type found on board ship either. One of my dreams was to photograph a ship going under a bridge, and that is a problem on it’s own because there are not too many navigable bridges in my area. The one exception is the Itchen Bridge, which has a height of  28 metres.  

(1500×576). The Itchen Bridge  

I have seen a number of ships on the Itchen River and I expect there are a few limitations to taking a largeish vessel under the bridge without running into it. For maximum clearance you should go under at low tide, but then your vessel must not be heavily laden or you would run aground. You could go through at high tide too, but then you must be down on your marks, you also need to aim for the middle of the centre span. Oh, and it does not help if your vessel is higher than 28 metres. 
 
I watched my handy vessel movements website for a number of weeks, trying to find a chance to catch a ship going under the bridge, and that came on the 20th of July when a dredger; Sand Harrier, was due to transit from American/Burnley Wharf to Southampton Water. I was due to go shipwatching at Weston that afternoon and hoped to be back in time to see this happen.
 
On my way to Weston I spotted the vessel alongside, and just hoped that I would be back in time, or that she did not sail early. 
 
Shipwatching from Weston can be fun, but somedays there are certain ferries that are determined to ruin the photography. Once I was completed I headed up to the bridge. Sand Harrier had not passed me at Weston so she was still upriver, but anything could happen between my leaving where I was at Weston, and arriving on the bridge. By the time I got to the bridge she had not sailed, but by the looks of she was about ready to go. 
 
It is not a long distance to sail, although you do have to be careful of small craft or the odd kayak that may be oblivious to what is bearing down on them. You also need to steer towards the centre span of the bridge almost immediately after clearing the channel. Interestingly enough the vessel is able to turn at the berth, and she does so without the help of a tug. 
 
What a moment it was. The funnel gases and sound and sheer thrill of seeing something like this for the first time! I was so enthralled I forgot to press the shutter on the video camera. But, I did manage to get some video of the event. 
 

And then she was on her way towards Southampton Water, and I was on my way home. A happy puppy indeed. However, I needed to do this again. On 22 August I made an interesting discovery (which I should have noticed the first time around). Sand Harrier has a hinged mast! I feel cheated!!
Anyway, this is what she looks like from ground level. As you can see she is riding quite high, and the tide was out too, so she did not have a problem going under the bridge at all. I also managed to capture this sequence on video.
A further opportunity came a few days later when the dredger Arco Dee was due to transit from the same place and I was ready and waiting 30 minutes before sailing time. 

 
The same circumstances were involved with relation to harbour traffic, tide, draft and weather.
 
 
And then she was past. This time around I did much better with the video but did loose a bit as I had to cross the street and the traffic was hectic. 
 
 

Satisfied? not really. I now needed to see this from the bottom of the bridge. As luck would have it the trailing suction dredger City of Chichester was due to transit. But the weather was gross, and the images were really not up to scratch, so I stuck around waiting for the next opportunity which happened on 15 August.

It was a late afternoon, same ship, but better weather. For some reason I shot mostly video, but do have a screen cap that will help.
It was difficult to know how much clearance there was between the tip of her mast and the bottom of the span, But by the looks of it there was quite a bit. The tide was high too.
And finally, the clincher.
As stated previously though, it really does depend on tide, draft, ship height and that you are in the centre of the span. I expect there may be leading marks out Weston Area or possibly at Hythe for guidance and I must check up next time I am there.

And that concluded three very interesting ship transits under the Itchen bridge. I now feel kind of lost, having completed my observations. The video is available on YouTube too, as are the video’s shot from above. Come to think of it, I haven’t managed to get this dredger from above yet……

DRW © 2013-2018. Images recreated 10/04/2016 

Updated: 12/04/2018 — 13:09
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