Finally we are back in business and out of the dry dock! It’s taken a while longer than we had anticipated because as the waterline disappeared so it became evident that we had more work to get done than had first been thought. Nellie has had her bottom scrubbed and the topsides painted and antifouling put on. She also has had her propellers polished and some steel work done. At the same time some preparation work has been started for the refit. All in all a very busy and productive time!
It’s been a good opportunity to meet some old friends as well as our volunteers and maintainers – many of whom are staying on board to bring Nellie home. It’s been great to see the daily donning of disguises, as one by one our maintainers dressed in boiler suits, goggles, dust masks, woolly hats, hard hats, hi-vis tabards and over-jackets to valiantly overcome the perils of the wintry weather! Lots of hard work and effort has been put into scrubbing and painting and polishing the ship and to get her shipshape once more. Special thanks to Sue Kenny too, for arranging the laundering of our curtains.
We’ve been alongside in Milford Haven, South Wales for the last four weeks now and have been simply itching to get underway and back to sea for our last voyage before Nellie’s refit in Southampton. All the same, it has been lovely to meet some of the local people and share some hospitality with them ....and a few pool games too! Last night, we hosted a reception on board and amongst the ‘engineers brew’ and a lovely chilli dinner (thanks Becky!) we devised a novel way of preparing the nibbles – the galley now has its very own grease gun with which to stuff the pepperdew peppers with cream cheese - uhmm!!!
Then today, it was back into voyage mode as Captain Neil Duncan welcomed everyone to the Lord Nelson and introduced the permanent crew: Chris the Mate, Nicky the 2nd Mate, Peter the Bosun; Marco the Chief Engineer with Rachel and Mr Chipp’s the 2nd engineers; Becky the Cook, assisted by Pat; Rachel the Medical Purser and the Bosun’s mates Godfrey and Radar. Once the introductions were complete, the safety briefings began followed by the first evacuation drill; then into climbing harnesses and up the rigging – a great experience for all whether they be first timers or old hands. We then waited for the pilot to board and once he had joined us, the gangway was hauled on board and stowed away. Then the mooring lines were released and Nellie turned her bow towards the lock and off out towards the Approaches to the Bristol Channel and south towards Lands End, waved off by some of our new friends.