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THE VESSEL TAKES SHAPE

The character of the vessel was built in as the work progressed. As there was little room for access to the accommodation from the main deck saloon, a spiral staircase was installed. The timber floor from a disused dancehall was salvaged and reused as the saloon floor, and church pews were fitted as seating around the saloon. Panelling from a bank that was being demolished was used around the lower saloon giving this area a warm and comfortable look. The tables and benches in the main saloon were made from English elm, as were all the bunk sides. The cabins were framed up and clad with Baltic pine matchlining. Timber for the pinrail was found in the shape of railway sleepers, which, when cleaned up, turned out to be Western Australian jarrah. A traditional anchor winch was found and fitted, although this was later removed as it was hand operated, too hard to operate in an emergency, and proved to be too much of a risk during the first voyage.

Alongside the 'Iron Wharf' Faversham

Alongside the 'Iron Wharf' Faversham

First voyage, as a Brigantine

First voyage, as a Brigantine

Every second-hand item that was purchased was thoroughly overhauled before use. Dull brass fittings were polished, wooden items had paint removed and were sanded down and brought back to their original finish. The whole vessel started to smell clean and fresh as painting and varnishing commenced.

As this work was dirty and the Iron Wharf did not have the showering facilities that had been enjoyed in Sweden, an old Beford van was loaded up each evening and a trip was made to Sittingbourne to the local public baths where all the dirt and grime was removed. This pilgrimage amazed the locals and the bath house attendant, and invited curious looks until the situation was explained.

Slowly the vessel took shape, keeping enthusiasm alive. At times it seemed that all the work was being put in for little return, but as the ship neared completion, it all began to seem worthwhile. Each worker gravitated towards the tasks they were best qualified to attempt, but also each person assisted the others as required. There was rarely any skill lacking, but if it was there was always somebody keen to learn.

Passage making, at sea, 1st voyage

Passage making, at sea, 1st voyage

 


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