Spider T sails from Keadby Lock on Humber to Arbroath – the full story

Spider T returns to the Humber following the Arbroath Sea Fest

Mal Nicholson and the Spider T crew will have more to chew on than most when they consider their summer’s adventures, having sailed a 1920s Humber sloop from Keadby to Arbroath and back.

The purpose of the boat’s trip was to attend Arbroath Sea Fest, and join in the marking of the 200th anniversary of the building of the Bell Rock Lighthouse, by Robert Stephenson. (I’m pleased to note a connection here – in building the Bell Rock Light, Stephenson was assisted by John Rennie, whose son Sir John Rennie was responsible for the New River Ancholme Drainage Scheme, which created the river that provides Spider T’s home berth.)

As you’d expect, their trip was marked by a series of minor mishaps and fascinating encounters, unforgettable landfalls, great thundering dawns and glorious sunsets. A series of posts here at intheboatshed.net recorded the northward trip, but you can read about the whole thing on a special page on the Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society’s website.

A series of local newspapers covered the story of the Spider T’s visits to ports along the way, including this one recording the moment when the boat and crew called in at Hartlepool.

PS – Dig the great photo on the HKSPS homepage showing a keel skipper working his boat out of harbour using a sweep, with his rudder hard over and a tender in tow. Now there’s a challenge, yotties!

National Maritime Museum Cornwall devotes a big show to lighthouses and their keepers

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Relieving the shift on Bishop Rock Lighthouse 1969 (thanks to Gibsons of Scilly); Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset (thanks to Trinity House); a storm lashes Longships Lighthouse (thanks to Tim Stevens, image courtesy of Trinity House)

Happy New Year! Lighthouses: Life on the Rocks is the title of a major new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall from February 2010.

For centuries the men who operated these iconic beacons of light protected our seas in a very hands-on way, but the UK’s last manned lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in November 1998. This exhibition will therefore explore the lives of the last of the lighthouse keepers before their histories slip out of living memory, and explain the feats of engineering that lie behind the building of the lighthouses themselves.

It will feature a large array of objects including a massive four tonne optic, and there will also be a reconstruction of a lighthouse’s living quarters featuring original curved furniture from Godrevy Lighthouse.

The keepers lived a life of strict routine and isolation, and to fill their time would engage in all sorts of interests including poetry, crafting ships in light bulbs, and supplementing their limited supplies using surprising techniques such as kite fishing.

The exhibition is supported by Trinity House and the General Lighthouse Authority, which is lending a large number of artefacts to the exhibition, which complements the authority’s own heritage centre at the Lizard, and by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

National Maritime Museum Cornwall small boat register goes online

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St Agnes lighthouse, Scilly Isles – see
the news about Troze below

The National Maritime Museum Cornwall’s small boats register has gone online – and we’re all invited to let its organisers know of any craft that should be included. I should think there are hundreds!

Here’s the NMMC’s release on this important project:

‘Over the past few years, National Maritime Museum Cornwall has been working on a database of boats which deserve heritage protection. With the help of other museums, owners and charitable trusts, the Museum has been assembling a list of over 1200 boats.

‘Now part of this database known as the National Small Boat Register including boats under 40ft in length, is available on the web and everyone is invited to help make it the definitive list for the UK.

‘The list is modelled on the database used for ships – the National Register of Historic Vessels – but uses a new ‘history pod’ to identify key dates in a craft’s history.

Jonathan Griffin, director of the Maritime Museum says: “There is still much work to do. We need to obtain owners’ permission to publicise details of some of the boats we already hold on the database. We’d welcome hearing from everyone about other boats which they feel should be included in the Register.”

‘Looking ahead, the Museum is keen to develop a discussion forum to make the whole register inclusive and a place where enthusiasts can exchange information about the boats.

‘Have a look at the research area of the Museum’s website at www.nmmc.co.uk and see if your boat or a boat you know of should be registered.’

Also new from the NMMC has also launched an interesting-looking quarterly online journal called Troze. The first issue concerns wrecking on the Isles of Scilly.

Museum’s staff sayTroze will welcome article submissions from enthusiastic researchers, writers or people who are knowledgeable or passionate about their topics.

If you’re wondering, as I was, the title of the journal is taken from the Cornish word for the sound made by water about the bows of a boat in motion.

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