03 Jul

Good things come to those who wait, slowly, slowly, catchee, monkey, patience is a virtue. I'm sure I could think of a few more clichés if I try, but it's ok, I won't.  

We've been waiting, it seems like for ever, to be able to give you good news about our flagship, NB Daisy. In case you've forgotten, Daisy has been out of the water, at Droitwich Marina since the spring. We had to get her out after she took on water and this has been our chance to make her hull as sound as we can. 

You may remember, she's a wooden boat, with a steel skirt on her base. The wood and steel for the most part had stood the test of time pretty well - the wooden hull was laid down in 1921, the steel base added in the 1980's. Her biggest problem was her stern. When originally built, Daisy was 72 feet. That would have seriously hampered her ability to travel the country as the holiday boat she became.

Presumably in her working life, as a coal butty, she stuck to certain routes, either without locks or ones which could fit in a 72 foot boat. But 72 feet was just too long, and so 2 feet was removed from her stern at some stage. We're not sure how or exactly where the footage was removed, but her trad stern steering area is short and seriously challenging for the helmsman! Don't concentrate and you'll end up in the drink.

So getting the stern sound has been a challenge to put it mildly. The gas locker needed some serious work and at some stage had concrete added. Neil, our fabulous welder, puzzled and scratched his head about how to sort it. He wanted it sound, didn't want it to cost us too much money, but was determined that 2 years down the line, we wouldn't have to do it again. The whole of the stern area around the swim was looking seriously ratty. It was looking expensive.

Then we had the amazing gift of steel, ALL the steel we needed, to wrap the stern, from veterans, Colin and Sarah. We still can't thank them enough. Neil had all the material he needed. But welders are busy people and he had several other boats, on deadlines, at Droitwich alone, he needed to fix. But bit by bit, Neil and his team packed Daisy's stern, bought a new gun to get blacking where blacking really didn't want to go, and then a glorious moment, they welded the 1st new stern panel in place.

This morning I was at the marina, working on another boat, when Neil appeared. Have to say I was a bit nervous but it was great news, fantastic news - Daisy's stern was finished! I trotted up to her as soon as I could - expecting to see bare steel plate - but no, there she was, new, sound stern, gleaming with fresh blacking, it was a beautiful sight! I sent a message with pictures to the rest of the committee of Trustees and they were as delighted as I was.

Now we need to arrange to get Daisy back to HQ at Sawley. Her engine, unfortunately, is still not running, so we are planning how to move her. A truck and road move is impossible, too expensive. So, do we take a couple of weeks to try to get the engine fixed? Do we fit something on the stern - now it can take it - so we can put an outboard on? That won't be powerful enough to manage to power her alone - but it it can get her though locks - and we can tow her up with our Trustee, Pete and NB Kinver, of Ballinger Towage and Steerage. We'll need lock help - so we'll let you know when the big move is going to happen. It's also influenced by when we manage to secure a permanent mooring for Daisy - The Canal and River Trust are working with us on that.

But it's been worth the wait and anyone who's had anything to do with boats knows they operate in their own time zone and nothing will hurry them, and they'll also tell you, the only boat builder who ever finished on time was Noah!

Lizzie Lane, Co-chair, The Forces Veterans Afloat Charitable Trust 03/07/23

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