Back to the grind

So, now the fun is done and it’s back to the grind. A shipwright’s work is never finished. The weeks and months ahead hold all sorts of delights. We hauled Iona – cross hauled her with Merrilee II’s launch – and she now sits, redolent of the river, in Richmond boat builders awaiting scraping, painting, re-caulking, remedies to transmission (which has been inoperative since her last haul-out) and some top sides work. She’ll probably need her deck recaulked as well. We’re astounded at the amount of marine growth and the degradation to her paint since her last haul-out about 4 years ago. More evidence that a vessel ought to be hauled and her bottom scraped every two years. She’s got way too many soft spots so we can expect her to be in the Boatworks for a year at least. More like two. A complete work list will be drawn up soon. I’ll post it on Iona’s page when I get it.

Another project starting, one dear to my heart, is the formative “Britannia Skiff Division.” The Society has a nice collection of skiffs. The large end of the skiff spectrum is held by the Fraser River fishing skiffs, the small end by an 8′ sabot that has been on the bottom of one of the ponds for a few years. (That one may just become a planter.) In between are a half dozen or so pieces in the 9′ to 12′ range. The skiff fleet incudes the delightful little Stumpy, the Daisy and several others. The plan is to use these craft as skill builders for wannabe boat builders and then to [gasp!] sail them around the harbour.

Merrilee II Launch

Two plus years of work have at last culminated in ‘the big reveal’ as Larry and Kerry get the last bit of anti-fouling paint applied. The last critical bit of equipment has been re-installed. Radar, radios and galley gear will be done while she floats. In fact, the 6-cyl, 120 HP Ford Lehman diesel engine has not been fired since she last floated so there’s plenty of work left to do before we take her out for a real cruise. I doubt she has ever looked so lovely. It’s almost a shame to let her get wet. But, that’s what boats are for! So, back to her native element.

Of course, as in Coleridge’s famous poem, ‘all the boards did shrink,’ and so she took on water at a daunting rate. The bilge pump kept ahead of the ingress so no major worry. None the less, we did have the big, gasoline powered dock pump standing by, primed and ready to go. Kerry drew anchor watch for the first night, Bob for the second.

It was a substantial move, the biggest we’ve tried in a decade, maybe ever. It went without a hitch. No one yelled, no one broke into a sweat or even mussed their hair. Two sets of Merrilee II’s former owners showed up for the splash and both said they were delighted, thrilled even, with the work done on her. Indeed, she looked magnificent.

Tom Plain of Alltow displayed his usual skill and made look easy. That guy can spot his 40 tonne rig and its 40 foot trailer within a quarter inch of his intent, first time, every time. It is a treat to watch him work.

Merrilee II Launch Date

Merrilee II Launch date set for Sunday, 1 December 2013. We expect the truck to arrive at 10:30 am. By then we must have cleared the access and removal route, moved Iona to the outside of the floats and then to the Number 2 Road boat ramp. made final inspection of Merrilee II and placed aboard dock lines, life jackets and extra pumping capability as her planking will need a couple of weeks to take up following two years of dry storage. Considerable interior work remains on Merrilee and she is not yet ready for sailing. But, if we are diligent and fortune smiles on us she will be navigating on the water under her own power by spring.


Copyright © 2006 - 2020 Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site Society

5180 Westwater Drive, Richmond, BC   604-238-8050

Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site Society