Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Day 2 Boat Repatriation

It rained hard on Monday evening, so we checked the boat to make sure that the automatic bilge pump was switched on. 

As we entered the port, we passed the CPL truck that was our boat transporter back to the UK. We decided to make an early start on Tuesday morning so that we could speak to Richard, the driver, and  finish off getting the boat ready for the journey home.

Crane setting up.

We arrived at the port at 08.40. There was no sign of the VNF port manager or the President of our cruising club.

It was a good thing that we made such an early start. The crane was booked for noon but, on the stroke of 09.00, we spotted the 'convoi exceptionnel' approaching the gates. The crane was preceded by an escort vehicle, and followed by a low-loader carrying the weights, straps, and spacers.

The crew told us it would take about 40 minutes to set up the equipment ready for the lift. During that time, we finished clearing the boat and stowing stuff safely on the floor.

When the crew was ready, I walked back to the CPL truck to ask Richard to reverse into place.

Straps in place. Lift begins

Getting the straps and spacers into place was a tricky operation. It needed four men and the crew was down to two. MWNN and Richard were pressed into service and I was left holding the remaining boat rope. Using one hand on the rope to stop the boat drifting out while the straps were hauled into place underwater, was made doubly difficult by trying to help Richard manoeuve the rear strap against the pull of the water and the movement of the boat. 

Out of the water

The crane driver was very skilled. There were hazards to negotiate. 

Tight on space

A lamp-post, an abandoned truck trailer, and a parked car limited the available space.

Cleared the lamp-post and turned in one smooth action

The boat had to be turned as it was being lifted as the truck driver wanted the bow at the front of the trailer.

Getting the props into place.

Once over the truck trailer, the crane driver took instructions from Richard and the other crew-member, who were re-adjusting the props on the deck of the trailer. 

Barnacles cover the hull and anodes.

The boat is covered in barnacles and some sort of worm. It was a good thing we didn't need to start the engine to motor the boat to another lifting point because the barnacles had colonised the prop and joined it to the lower stern gear bar.

Props in place

Once the props were in place, the boat was lowered gently into position.

Richard signalled to the crane driver to make tiny adjustments to make sure the stern of the boat was not over the end  of the trailer.

Straps are removed

By 10.30, the straps were off and the boat was secured to the trailer.

MWNN gave Richard advice about the best route out of the port and the approach to the UK boatyard on Wednesday morning and, a few minutes before 11am, the truck was leaving the port on its way to Calais.

The crane crew were busy dismantling the crane while we packed a few boat things into the car. There was still no sign of the VNF port manager or the crusing club President. We had to leave our shore-power cable behind as the electricity point was locked. There were no rubbish bins in the port so we piled our rubbish sacks underneath a boat that was out of the water for repair work.

MWNN signed the paperwork and we headed off to the hypermarket for shopping and lunch. We were half-way through our shopping by noon - the time at which the crane should have started lifting the boat.

On board Le Shuttle

After a leisurely lunch, MWNN drove us to Calais. We were booked on the 18.50 crossing but arrived so early that we were on board and leaving the station by 18.15.

There was 15 minute delay at the Dartford Crossing (it really should be automated to prevent the bottleneck at the toll booths.) We arrived home at 20.15. It had been a long, tiring day.

We were not looking forward to an early start today when the truck delivered the boat to Oundle. What a pleasant surprise it was to receive a phone call from Oundle, just as we were setting off. The manager at Oundle had phoned Richard last night and they had organised everything for early morning, instead of noon. By 10am, the boat was off the truck and into the water to soak before being cleaned and blacked tomorrow.