New launch moorings laid!

posted 18 Oct 2015, 11:44 by Sailing Secretary   [ updated 18 Oct 2015, 12:32 ]
If we wanted to put a man on the moon we could probably have a reasonable shot at it’, was the comment in the bar beforehand.

Brian Cheetham led a small working party last Thursday and Saturday removing the old launch moorings and laying a new mooring chain, to which the launch mooring buoys would be attached.

This was not a trivial task. However Minima is a self propelled sailing club of limited resources, and there is never a question of calling in expensive marine contractors for this sort of job.

Roughly in order of appearance, Brian, Commodore Andy Banks, Alex Cane, Andy Cuckson, Alan Jales, John Forbes, Ron and Janet Sexton, Steve Collins and Kathy Collins were able to carry out the job with the help of pontoons lent to the club by a local company.

The first job was raising the old mooring chains (there were about three sections), which were held down by a number of weights, sacks of concrete etc. This took all of Thursday, as we slowly refined a technique which finally involved two blocks and tackles working in sequence leapfrogging down the old chain as we heaved it up with its motley selection of ballast. A large amount of river mud and goose droppings was involved in this operation, which you could truly call messing about in boats.

Laying the new ground chain was the Saturday task. The  pontoons were towed and pushed by the launches over to the dinghy landing stage, where Ron Sexton officiated as the new chain was laid out on the pontoons, and then the plough anchor, mooring buoys and heavy sinker links were shackled on while the whole kit and caboodle was still above water. The pontoons then came back across the river, complete with working party, all of whom had differing opinions on which way the two launch drivers should be pulling, as did the launch drivers. However, we made it and no one fell in.

The next step was to manoeuvre the pontoons into position and endeavour to hold them in place until Brian felt the planets were near enough aligned. Apparently in the civil engineering world this is not quite as precise as you might think. Then was fed over the bow with a roar, first the anchor, then the chain with its heavy sinkers, buoys etc. This was achieved with both launches acting as tugs, and a small team on shore hanging onto long lines for dear life, and for this bit we all agreed to listen to Brian. Most of the time.

At various times it must be admitted it seemed as if every single component, human and mechanical, was pulling in opposite directions, but the job got done, and we all got home in time to watch the rugby. I cannot remember the last time I had so much fun.

Of course the launches will still be there next week ...

Photos below - clockwise, starting from top

1) Andy Cuckson, Andy Banks, Brian, Alan and Alex hard at work on the pontoons. Some old chain and steel trolley wheels can be seen on the pontoon, used to hold down the old moorings.

2) The new grey steel ground chain flaked along the pontoons, with the heavy sinker links laid across ready to attach

3) Andy Cuckson shackles one of the mooring buoy risers onto the ground chain

3) Job done: Club Bosun Brian Cheetham with the launches on their new moorings