TRIPBOAT Birdswood, operated by the Friends of Cromford Canal, was recently lifted out for the biennial hull inspection by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, writes John Guyler.
It involved craning the boat out of the mooring position beside the Arkwright cafe and placing it on to boat stands, kindly loaned by Langley Mill Boat Yard Ltd, at the side of the Cromford Canal.
There is very little space in the area, so the boat had to be lifted on to the peninsula between the canal feeder and the main canal on Cromford Wharf. The peninsula was originally used as a coal wharf when the canal was operational and is said to be covered in cobbles (setts) hidden below the current gravel and grass and so provides a solid base.
In the week prior to the lift, Birdswood was completely cleared of all internal fittings, seats, tables, kitchen and for the first time the toilet, which is sited at the bow end just behind what was the gas locker used when she was a restaurant boat in a previous life.
This gives the inspector a clear view of the hull bracing plates.
The hydraulic drive motor directly behind the prop has been sent away for new seals to be fitted. Birdswood has a unique propulsion system; originally designed as a butty, her stern did not allow a conventional prop and transmission to be fitted. The propeller has to be sited in the rudder with a hydraulic gearbox directly behind it and it is this gearbox which requires the seals.
Once secured on the stands a combined group of FCC work party members and boat crew scraped the hull which had first been power washed to remove any growth; this year the hull was unusually clean after lift out.
Birdswood, being an electric powered boat, has two banks of batteries in the main cabin; these battery boxes had to be moved forward to allow for access for inspection below them, which in itself was a job.
At the time of writing, the hull has had an ultrasonic inspection and a visual internal hull inspection which had a positive conclusion on both. The major job now is to replace all the floors and the internal equipment.
The outside of the hull will be painted by the crew and members of the FCC work parties. Then there is the small matter of craning Birdswood back into the water and returning the boat stands back to Langley Mill.
FCC is also grateful of the help and assistance from the Arkwright cafe and the Derbyshire County Council at Cromford Wharf.