If a man is to be obsessed by something I suppose a boat is as good as anything. Perhaps a bit better than most.
- E.B. White
Grey December days have their own quiet charm at Britannia Heritage Shipyard
Welcome to the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society Blog
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21 March 2013
The crew is working diligently to get the ways working now that the new cart has been delivered. There are many small details to be dealt with: Clearing the rails, inspecting and perhaps replacing some of the supporting timbers, servicing the winch.
Here we see Jim & Neils inspecting, greasing and adjusting the winch. It has not been used more than once or twice in the past decade. This winch, typical of those used in most shipyards mid last century is an old donkety winch salvaged, no doubt, from some logging operation, is a delight in itself. Rugged and simple - just the thing for a small shipyard. Thistechnology is now so old that very few know how to operate it. Jim does. We will have him put together a little traing course. We unspopoled and inspected the uphaul cable. It runs out to 270' and is in quite good condition. We are on the hunt for a new backhaul cable. The backhaul cable, which is necessary to pull the cart down hill (rolling resistance on a loaded cart is very high) on these types of system tend to corrode quickly as they spend much of their life in salt water.
We are in a rather good position reqarding new activemembers. We are getting one or two people joining our work force each quarter. That's a very good thing as we have an almost unlimited supply of projects. Now that Merrilee II has been moved back into Richmond Boat Builders her refurbishment is cranking back up to speed. We are now just about a year behind schedule - she should be back in her proper element this summer. (Provided we allow now more scope creep.) Here we see new member Kerry working on a window frame. What a smile! Welcome to our gang, Kerry.
18 March 2014
Britannia Shipyards will be open for extended hours during Spring Break! In addition to Saturdays and Sundays, we will be open during both weeks of Spring Break on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (12-4 each day)! Learn about the history of the site through interpretive storyboard signage or sign out a Britannia Day Pack that contains binoculars, scavenger hunt clues and more! A limited supply of packs available.
17 February 2013
It is, around here, an open secret that the town feautured in the TV episodic "Once Upon A Time," Storybrooke, Main is played by Steveston, BC. Once a week or so, during the shooting season, the town of Steveston is transformed into Storybrooke. Britannia gets its 15 minutes of fame, too, when it is converted into Storybrooke Shipyard where Captain Hook ties up.
Of course, anyone who has lived in the Vancouver area for any length of time is used to the movie industry. Vancouver has been a stand in for any number of cities, world wide, and rarely gets so much as acourtersy credit. This time is different, however. The producers of "Once Upon A Time" are so delighted with the village that they have made a short documentary video featuting it. Watch the making of "Once Upon A Time" video:
16 February 2013
As spring slowly gains ground the work at Britannia does, too. We were delighted this month to welcome two new volunteers to the Boatworks where the Merrilee II is once again the active project. At the far left Kerry applies fresh paint yo Merrilee's bottom and at the near left Gerry applies an epoxy coating to her newly rebuilt windscreen frame.
WE hope to build up our regular volunteer crew to at least a dozen on any given Saturday. THere are plenty and plenty of projects and now that we have our new carriage and can haul vessels oyrselves we have a long list of maintenance tasks to perdform on our existing vessels Both Iona and Silver Ann willl be hauled this summer for bottom scraping and repainting,
6 February 2013
Thank you City of Richmond. The first major improvement to the boat management plant in a long, long time. And it couldn't be more welcome. The carriages for the marine railway, the ways, had slowly rotted away to the point of useelessness and were many years overdue for replacement. The City, late last year, volunteered to help and, to our great delight came through with a major rebuild.
It can be called a rebuild as they used the wheels off the old carriage. But that's all. Everything else is new: new structural steel, new timber cradles and guides. Now we can haul our own vessels, at least those that are less than about 30 feet length over all and less than 20 tons (or so.) Sorry, Tom. We really like you but lashing out a few hundred bucks every time we want to haul a boat is just not the best use of our scant cash reserves.
Oh happy day!
19 January 2013
A new year at Britannia and a new tack. Or, perhaps, a new attack. The season has started with enthusiasm. Volunteers are turning out in large numbers to enjoy the venue and advance the work. So far, Richmond Boatbuilders has received a much needed reorganization and a clearing out to receive vessels. The Merrilee II, banished to the yard last year was the first vessel in. Not before time, IMHO. Work on her slowed to a crawl once she was moved to the yard and we can now look forward to a surge in activity on her. The major work on her hhull has been completed and work on the cabin now remains. She'll get a complete rewiring, refurbishment of her window frames, new windshields, new upholstery. Stilll a lot to do.
Tom of All Tow once again demonstrated his mastery of of the huge truck and trailer. The trailer is a one-of-a-kind machine, built to Tom's own specification over the years. The huge hydraulic cylinder on the deck of the tractor raises and lowers the trailer to achieve positioning and lift.
The move is quite an operation. Tom is due to arrive at 10:00am. Work starts at 8:00 am moving the last of the tools and material to ready the Richmond Boatbuilders to receive the vessel. Then a path must be cleared to the vessel and the supports all made ready to allow the trailer to pass under her. Props are cut and readied to blance the vessel once the frames are removed. It takes the best part of an hour to load Merrilee II. Much of that time is spent jockeying the truck and trailer into position. The haul is, in this case just a few minutes but not without its challenges, We had closed off the parking lot as even without parked vehicles the big rig can just squeeze through the gates. (The original designers of the lot and access roads gave no thought at all to the moveent of large equipment.) In the few moments while our attention was diverted to the loading process and during which we had neglected to replace the barracades a little red car snuck into the lot and parked in the very worst place. Tom, always up for a challenge, tried to eases by but, in the end we had to find the owner and get her to move her car.
Neils, a cabinet maker and a finish carpenter got straight to work on window frame remediation. Small leaks around the winscreens had allowed rot to get a hold and much of the framing has had to be rebuilt. When we are done, the frames will be all new of suitable hardwood and will be coated with epoxy resin to protect against a recurrance of this type of damage.
Once Merrilee's work has been completed and she is returned to the water she will take her rightful place as the Society's flag ship. It is hoped and planned that she will be back at the floats and ready to sail in time to attend the Vancouver Wooden Boat Show in August.
We ought to have two vessels able to navigate by end of summer. Iona has shown up with a transmission problem but other than that is just some finishing work away from being fully serviceable.
Another project which is dear to the hearts of the volunteers is the repairing of the ways. A marine railroad, designed for the task of hauling a vessel from the water to the work area is called a 'ways.' It consists of iron track placed on an inclined road bed, Timbers usually, running down slope into the water. A carriage is built to move up and down the track with the aid of a winch. In our case, the winch is an old 'donkey' winch salvaged from a logging operation.
Britannia has three ways, two in the Shipyard building and one, a bit smaller, the west ways, in the lagoon. The City has been most helpful in getting the west ways back in operation. The old, original, wooden carriages had decayed to the point of inoperability so the works yard offered welding and steel to fabricate a new one. It will be ready sometime in the next month or so and then, once we have gone over the rails and underlying timbers we will have our own haul out capability. Sorry, Tom. We love you but it's just not economical to keep doing this by truck.
We will now be able to haul vessels quickly and easily for regular bottom maintenance and other work!
Getting the ways back in operation has gotten us on the water. Even thought rails slope down at a fairly good pitch, the rolling resistance of the carriage is so great that it must be pulled down by the winch. This is a ccomplished using a 'back haul' cable that passes through a turning block at the bottom of the structure. Clearing the turnin block and removing flotsam (a giant tree root and a utility pole) means puuting small boats to work.
Every once in a while Britannia gets to masquerade. The very popular eposodic TV program "Once Upon A Time" is set in the fictional village of Storybrooke, Maine. In fact, the production is shot in Steveston, BC. Some of the scenes involve ships, pirate ships, of course. Those scenes are shot at Britannia Heritage ShipYard. The 'pirate ship,' a set in fact, is built on a barge moored to Britannia's floats. From a shipwright's point of view she is an unlovely hulk but she is built to sial on fantasy seas and no doubt does that very well.