Dust, Dirt and Lots of Spent Grit.

Our lives have taken on a new dimension this past week – a mixture of living off the water and unfamiliar surroundings is taking some getting used to. How do people live on dry land?

End of week one and the yard has made us as welcome as possible under the circumstances. The boys carrying out the grit blasting are demonstrating every care in their work, which is more than welcoming, practising more haste less speed to ensure only remove that of which has been applied to protect this 91 year old ladies dignity.

Our VRIJHEID is proving prudish to giving up her clothes in preparation for our surveyor to inspect any blemish on her riveted iron skin. Apart from those areas of double plating the hull is constructed of riveted iron plates connected to ribs or the ships skeleton. It is essential every care is exercised, especially when grit basting, to only remove that of which is other than the original iron.

Port_Medway_Dry_Dock_VrijheidAssuming there would be lots of spent grit and dust generated in the coming week or so, the weekend prior to commencementof works found us removing to interior storage all external fixtures and fittings and sealing all the windows, using that inexpensive secondary glazing material applied with double sided tape.  We also began using the on shore bathroom amenities. Thankfully there is no change of the necessity of midnight dashes to the on shore loo as we can still use the onboard toilet.

Each day, commencing at the bow, more and more of the original hull has been exposed until by week end the boys had reached the three quarter stage. Like kids eager to get out to play after school , when we arrive home from work each day, eager to catch the last light of the day to see hull history has unfolded each day.

We are for the first time now seeing the bare hull that to date has every four years just been gently water blasted and retarred. We have found what appears to be the original loading marks running from the chine all the way up to the gunnel. Overall we have the greatest admiration for the quality of workmanship invested by that boat builder’s way back in 1922 in creating this ship. As a child would fold paper they have worked the steel using limited machinery and jigs to create such a beautiful and graceful three dimensional shape. FOr an instance the so even spacing’s between the rivets is so precise and the shaping of plate to overlap leaving one in wonder to the quality of the craft.

Bruce & Neil had a yard meeting Wednesday to inspect the hull progress and to agree water blasting instead of grit blasting rudders and keel cooling. I also did my best to locate on the outside the depth sounder transducer position and failed miserably. The follow day one of the boys found it using a strong light.

By Friday even the air about the dry dock smelt of dust – we have survived the week living onboard. Neil assures us all should be completed in readiness for John Heath, the surveyor Thursday. We cannot say goodbye to the dust and dirt soon enough, with this hurdle soon over the next follows – possibility of double plating.

We’re Beached!

Port Medway Dry Dock_w_01

Friday afternoon last found me busting a gut to drive through my work schedule freeing up the afternoon to move our Vrijheid into the Port Medway Marina dry dock. Kind thanks to the company Fercell Engineering for allowing me the time away.

De-brief was for 1230hrs in the marina offices, another professional touch to this marina management, proving invaluable so each and all were singing from the same hymn sheet. Helming 28m x 5m in close quarters is never something I relish especially with so many yoghurt pots to take a glancing blow to!

Neil elected to join me as crew, Caroline was regrettably otherwise engaged, leaving the holding pontoon to run with the tide to the dry dock. The wind, from our port gusted from time to time which was no help at all.

Turning on the river below the dock entrance we elected to approach the entrance putting into the incoming tide and with the wind now on our starboard all the elements were in our favour. So far so good, and pleased, to have Neil as company onboard Guess the support does not go amiss, as it the first time since taking ownership of our VRIJHEID (Sept 1993) I have helmed the vessel without the usual crew (Caroline)?

Turning into the entrance seemed to be too easy and the yard tug “Pugwash” was there standing off as the “just-in-case” safety.

Bow and aft lines now to the yard hands waiting on shore secure the tug gently turned the ship into the dry dock entrance to be pulled, nudged and encouraged into the dock proper.

Within the hour the ship was in position and we chatted while waiting to the tide to ebb allowing her to take the stools avoiding catching the skeg and bow rudder of which both extend below the hull.

So what is the hull condition? Tomorrow’s Log Blog. We have been told of an excellent local pub with good food so with Caroline now back home we are off to dinner. The White Hart Public House

Re-Launch of www.lifeafloat.com

All good things come to an end, well almost!

If you are a regular visitor we hope you approve of the updated style and appearance of the re-launched website for Vrijheid.

The content remains much the same as it is a historical reference for one of the many ships built with pride by Van der Werf of the Stadskanal yard in The Netherland (Holland) displaying the tell-tale “banana-shape” sheer line.

Our many thanks to Stuart Ford, dear friend, web developer and our ever patient mentor to all things web related. A great website Stuart, even better than the last one if that is possible, we are eternally grateful.

Now we have better access there will be little to no excuse for not keeping our friends and followers up to date and will start over the next period updating a year of life with our Vrijheid 2012.

Vrijheid resting on her mooring in Gravesend, Kent.

Vrijheid resting on her mooring in Gravesend, Kent.

Maintenance – Engine 80hr Service

Fuel System
Visal system check. All connections dry, Port tank gate valve, nip up 1/2 turn.
Bleed filters into glass, clean fuel. All – OK

Engine – Oil level at upper mark – OK
Gearbox – Oil level at upper mark – OK

Cooling system
Check system for leaks – all OK
Check level in header tank – all OK

Crankset – (SG1740) fully charged. Good electrolyte levels – All OK
Domestic Banks – top up both banks (10 litres) (SG1720 average)

Stern Gland – Reservoir half full. Zero weep into bilge.

Visual checks – Alternator & dynamo belt tension – OK.

Run up engine in forward gear for an hour – 1000rpm. Oil pressure, water temperature, batteries – all within limits.

Log entry for survey journey July 2010 omitted – Oops! Innocent oversite – rectify today.
Small amount of water in bilge, not surprisng after the winter condensation – 30 minute rubber glove exercise with a sponge. Estimate 5 litres.
Removed bilge pump and tested – OK.
Checked bolts on shaft including antivibration link – OK (torqued)
Changed engine room lights – 24v/60w x 2.

Maintenance – Engine 50hr Service

Fuel System
Primary cartridge – Baldwin FFRC 11861
Secondary cartridge – FFRC 11863
Drain and clean housings, replace worn banjo fitting, bleed system.

Engine. Drain and replace Gearbox – drain and replace.

Cooling system
Drain and replace (add anti-corrosion fluid) to normal level, check for leaks – all OK.

Crankset – Electrolyte levels OK (SG1740) fully charged.
Domestic Banks – Annual electrolyte top up (17 litres) (SG1730)

Stern Gland – Refill reservoir (2litres)

Visual checks – Alternator & dynamo belt tension – OK. (small adjustment of alternator belts).
Run up engine in forward gear 1 hour. Oil pressure, water temperature, batteries – all within limits.

Observations: As log will show we have not taken VRIJHEID out to play in 2009 but with spring only a few months away and fewer commitments we intend changing that in 2010.

Ready for Winter

The Vrijheid is ready for the onslaught of winter with a sparkling new coat of paint. Much of the exterior experienced more than a light sanding before painting as cruising does tend to result in skuffs and similar damage to the overall appearance. The hull paint has held up so well we have decided to put this off until next spring. If the worst comes to the worst we will apply in drydock as our four yearly survey anniversary date will be 2010.

For one reason or another we are gutted to has missed our possible cruising dates for the latter part of 2009. Work and spending time with friends and family has certainly taken its tole, thuogh most enjoyable a diversion they have been. So we are both looking forward to a more fuller calendar in 2010.

New vinyl tarp

The new tarp on the wheelhouse roof is already proving a great improvement. The added insulation of natural wool (underfelt) applied directly under the tarp was also a great suggestion, thanks to the DBA forum.

The foredeck area also received similar treatment. After some 16 years one learns the rule with barges, few things come cheap. Buying quality brings the peace of mind of  “fit an forget” well lets hope so.

The supplier “Essex Tarps” matched the roof paint colour to perfection retaining colour contenuity.

Maintenance – Engine 50h Service

Fuel System Filters – replace
Primary Cartridge -type Baldwin FFRC11861
Secondary Cartridge – type Baldwin FFRC11863
Drain, clean housings, bleed system.
Oil – Engine, OK – Gearbox, OK
Cooling System – Levels in header tank  – OK.
Crank Set – Batteries – Electrolyte levels, OK – (SG 1740) Full charge
Stern Gland Greaser – Half turn, reservoir half full.
Visual checks – Alternator & Dynamo belts, engine oil level, leaks, sump dry, Run-up engine in forward gear – 1 hour. Oil pressure, water temp, battery charging and domestic charging (80.0 – 89.5A/28.2VDC) all within limits. At idle – 500/520rpm. END

Christmas Message 2007

Dear friends,

What a year onboard our Vrijheid. Ship has run like clockwork with only the odd problem of wear and tear maintenance to contend with.

Wishing you all a very special Christmas and looking forward to catching you all on the “otherside” !!

The very best for 2008 from us both. Send us an email as we are very mobile @ present. Always available on the mobile +44 (0)7879 400634.

Our best

We2, London