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05 August 2001 - Dry Dock for Repairs

RRS James Clark Ross Diary

Position at 12.00: Alongside fuelling jetty, Leith
Air temperature: 19.6°C; Sea temperature: 15.4°C

Dry-dock for repairs and then sail for the science cruise......or is it sail first and then dry-dock for repairs?

Last week we said that we needed to dry dock again to investigate a problem that had become apparent with our stern gear (where the propeller is). Well we have, but here in Leith, not on the River Tyne! A & P Tyne, where we were before for the normal refit, did not have a dock available for us to use within enough time for us to continue with the science cruise, so another dry dock had to be found. Another one was found but it was in Leith, which is the port for Edinburgh NOT the one in South Georgia that we usually go to! However, because it was not known for definite at this time what the problem was, we had to be towed to avoid any further risk to our propeller. A tug arrived on Saturday morning to collect us and we arrived at Leith on Sunday afternoon going straight into the dock.

After an inspection by the Master and Chief Engineer as well as other manufacturers' representatives involved with the engineering side of the job, the problem was identified and corrected during the night. The dock was then flooded again at 0930 on Monday morning and we left the dock, moving to the fuelling jetty to take bunkers ready for the science cruise. We will be sailing later on Monday afternoon with the next stop somewhere between Rockall and the Outer Hebrides.

Why we plan our trips, by Ian Heffernan, Second Officer

So, passage planning. Some might be justified in asking why we need a passage plan when we are being towed along by another ship. Then again others might ask the even better question of '"What is a passage plan?" so I'll deal with that first. Unfortunately the council haven't yet got around to putting signposts out here in the water so the unwary ship could quite easily get lost. It's my job to make sure we get to where we are supposed to go, and don't get lost on the way. I guess it's a bit like getting out the AA road atlas and having a look at the roads you want to take before going on holiday. So I get out all the charts, mark down the course we will be following and make sure there are no misfortunate rocks or the like in our path. Sometimes it's an easy straight-forward job, other times it can get quite confusing but I have plenty of books up on the bridge to help me so thankfully we haven't got lost yet! Thinking about it, that could be because up to now the furthest we have gone is across the Tyne...but I'm hopeful!

Back to our trip from the the Tyne to Leith. Sure we had a big tug towing us the whole way but it was still important to have some idea of where we were going and probably more importantly to be able to check for any dangers or obstructions along the way. I prepared a plan and then Reg the 2nd mate from the tug came onboard and gave us his plan - so we had two. Fortunately enough both plans were fairly similar. I adjusted a few lines on our charts and we were able to follow our course.

So that's a brief bit on passage planning. It can get a lot more complicated but doesn't have to be. As long as we get there safe and sound and on time that's usually enough to keep the Captain happy.

Ian the Second Officer planning the passage to Leith. Click to enlarge Ian again. Click to enlarge

Ian the Second Officer planning the passage to Leith
Click to enlarge

Making fast the tug

To tow the ship up to Leith we had to attach the tug's line onto our foc'sle which involved pulling a large chain up onto the deck and making it fast around the 'bits' in a figure-of-eight and - yes - it is as heavy as it looks! There is a heavy wire between this chain and the tug for pulling us along (56 mm in diameter, with a breaking strain of 210 Tonnes).

Making the tug fast around the bits for the tow. Click to enlarge Graham the C/O and Colin the Bosun keeping an eye on things. Click to enlarge

Making the tug fast as Graham the C/O
and Colin the Bosun keep an eye on things

Click to enlarge

The tug 'Anglian Earl' towing us. Click to enlarge Once we were safely out of the Tyne, the tug increased the tow length to 500m and we were off up the coast; it has to be said that it is quite a strange feeling being on watch on the bridge and being dependent on another ship for getting you safely to your destination.

Arrival in the Firth of Forth

Upon arrival in the Forth we embarked a pilot and moved in to where a couple of harbour tugs were waiting for us. They took over the tow from Anglian Earl and moved us into the locks. Once inside the harbour we swung around and went straight into the dry dock.

Here is a little photographic montage of the entry into Leith:

Ian the Second Officer, the Master and the Pilot during the entry. Click to enlarge Entering the locks

On the Bridge during entry

Entering the locks

Waiting for the lock gate to close. Click to enlarge

Waiting for the lock gate to close

Swinging the ship in the basin. Click to enlarge Entering the dry dock. Click to enlarge

Swinging the ship in the basin

Entering the dry dock

It is not all blue skies!

The view from the bridge. Click to enlarge Because a lot of the pictures taken over the last few weeks seem to have blue skies and sunshine in them, this one is included to prove we do go out in the rain! (apart from the photographers, that is).

Many thanks to the contributors this week, they were Clara Morri and Angus Macaskill for some of the photos and Ian Heffernan for his passage planning.

Coming up next week.......

We will be sailing around the top of Scotland and starting to do some coring as well as (at last) getting back into the swing of normal life at sea.