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INTO DRY DOCK

The vessel had at some time hit a wharf and suffered a rather unsightly dent in the stem. The hull was structurally sound, but the dent certainly did not enhance her looks. It was decided to put the vessel in dry dock so that the dent in the bow could be taken out, the bottom cleaned and inspected, the variable pitch propeller examined and plate thickness checked with an ultrasonic device borrowed from a local shipyard.

It was a long weekend holiday in Gothenburg when she was dry docked. The local dry dock was not being used commercially during that period so, late in the afternoon on the Friday, a tug came alongside and towed Merry into the dock. Putting a vessel into dry dock for the first time is an occasion of great apprehension when what is beneath is unknown. It was known that she had gone aground in 1956 and had had plates replaced, but her current state was doubtful. It was therefore very gratifying to have her out of the water and see the sound condition of the hull. The removal of the damaged plating in the stem proved to be a greater job than was first envisaged, as were many of the tasks of restoration, but it was completed on time.

Ultrasonic testing of the hull showed that after 65 years of service there was a maximum wastage of only 1.5 mm in the original plates. The hull was in excellent condition and when examined by the local marine surveyor passed all his inspections. Many helpers were on hand to complete the dry dock repair work and spray the hull with anti-fouling paint. A few days later it was a very tired but relieved crew that tied the vessel up again at what had become 'her' wharf.

Summer began to pass quickly and as there was no intention of having to spend another winter in Sweden thought turned to how long it would be before the vessel could be taken to England. The next time she moved she would have to be sailing under her own power. But a lot of hard work had to be done before it would be possible to make the voyage to England.

The work of chipping, cleaning, priming, under coating of the shell plating below decks was as monotonous as the continual welding of the seemingly endless sheets of steel plating. As a relief to these continuing tasks, Sunday morning was a time for washing clothes and catching up on personal correspondence. If the weather was fine, all went for a walk around Gothenburg and visited the excellent Maritime Museum, as if to recharge the enthusiasm when the tasks in hand started to take their toll. Another form of encouragement was to take a stroll along what was called "Rotten Row" and look at other vessels in various stages of disrepair then go back to Merry, seeing that she was not such a bad ship after an and knowing that the progress being made was very worth while.

Once the deck was closed in, the partitioning for the aft accommodation below was fitted and the welders continued with the plating until the new work was watertight. This seemed a never ending task. Progress was also being made on overhauling the engine; removing sand and silt from the cooling system; cleaning the moving parts which had become coated in a sludge of oil, grease and dirt. The forecastle accommodation was cleaned and painted, as all was being made ready for a voyage across the North Sea. A Certificate of Seaworthiness would have to be issued before she could leave port, and the authorities were very helpful in advising the crew on preparations for the journey.

From trees to spars, Faversham

From trees to spars, Faversham.

Placing the jib-boom, Faversham

Placing the jib-boom, Faversham.

 


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