After a couple of days alongside in the harbour at Milford Haven we made an epic journey across the harbour to the dry dock last Thursday. For anyone like me who has never even seen a dry dock the following 24 hours was quite fascinating.
When we entered the dock it was a bit like going into a lock except we stayed central rather than going alongside. We put out mooring lines fore and aft, port and starboard, and then the dock guys attached wire hawsers to us, so they could position us exactly central in the dock, so that the keel sits properly on the blocks in the bottom. A couple of them then hopped into a big metal bucket and were lifted by crane to board us (personally I think I’d rather use a gangway, but there you go). They worked in conjunction with their colleagues ashore putting shores in place along the sides of the ship (Shores are large wooden beams that rest on the rubbing strake and are wedged against the walls of the dock). As we settled onto the bottom, these held us wedged firmly in place. Then the process of pumping the water out began- initially the water level seemed to drop quickly, then it slowed down but eventually the dock was pretty much empty.
I have to say, seeing the ship’s bottom bare like this does seem rather strange and I must admit that so far I still haven’t been down into the dock bottom, so that will be stranger still. I think Bill Gibbs has taken enough video footage for us all though – when he wasn’t measuring anchor shackles or chipping at them he was taking pictures.
We started off with about 15 maintainers- some had done the delivery with us with the intention of staying on to do maintenance, and some stayed longer than they had originally intended, and very grateful we are too. Gradually people are starting to go home and the numbers are dropping. We’ve had a few new people arriving though so we are not at a standstill- work continues but focussed in particular areas.
It’s a bit like camping here- because of the work being done most of the showers are out of action, and because of the cost of emptying the poo tanks we all use the loos ashore during the day ( but you have to wear a hard hat to go across the yard) . EVERYONE knows where you are going. Inside the ship we have beautiful blue carpets everywhere, to protect the floors from all the muddy/oily boots tramping around. I am SO glad I will be at home by the time it all has to come up!
Socially the team are quite busy- a very convenient bar nearby does Tapas which apparently are quite good and not expensive, the curry that I had a few nights ago in town was very nice, and last night a bowling evening occurred- that’s a massive expedition – the bowling alley is all of 200 metres from the ship!
As usual we maintain our links with former colleagues- this is Sue Kenney’s home town so she’s been to visit a few times and Nigel Davies (BM) popped in today – finally got let off Nelly a few days ago.
More to follow in a few days- maybe I can persuade an engineer to explain some of the things they have been working on.