Life at the end of the road

November 2, 2012

A ‘drive in movie’ !!!!!

Filed under: boats, daily doings, South Shields — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 2:21 am

This is gonna be real quick, it’s only 20:00 but yours truly is well and truly whacked by this whole clock changing fiasco Sad smile I’ve not had a decent sleep in days, have been plagued by wild dreams and my brain is fried with knots Smile

The first two days of this course may have seemed a little elementary but the last two have been a bit of struggle


it’s a long while since I last spliced some ‘multiplat’, ‘whipped’ an end of rope


or tied a ‘fisherman’s bend’


and I was a ‘little rusty’ to say the least Smile

It’s not that I’m particularly thick, it’s just that most ropes now are synthetic and sealed with heat, it’s against the law to splice a rope unless in emergency and a ‘fishermen’s bend’ is usually used to fasten to an anchor, not something that I’ve done in ten years or more.

Anyway, I’m now, thanks to my colleagues rather than anyone else quite proficient in these and a whole load more nautical hitches, bends and knots. However the sanity of spending most of the day learning how to rig a ‘bosun’s chair’


   cast off the wracking
A Bosun’s Chair rigged to be lowered with assistance from below (a) or by one’s self (b,c) as illustrated in Handbook of Knots and Splices (and other work with hempen and wire ropes) by Charles E. Gibson, 1961. This copy, a recent thrift store used book score, was previously part of the collection of the US Forces Special Services Library, Barenhausen Kasserne. This illustration is part of my favorite chapter of the book, Slinging, Lashing, and Seizing, which also includes beautiful instructions for lifting, moving, and lowering barrels with ropes.
While the Bosun’s Chair instructions focus on the techniques for lowering and raising the chair alone or with the assistance of others, it neglects any discussion of the fixed point from which one is suspended. How can one find a fixed point dependable enough to support a life? How does one deal with the moment (b) when that point moves out of sight and one finds one’s self suspended between the no longer and the not yet seen?
Despite these shortcomings, it is an excellent book and a welcome addition to the mumblelard family library.

escapes me, as does the necessity to learn how to operate cargo derricks and winches safely.


The last time I saw anything like this was in 1985 and that was on ship that was lying in 55m of water having been torpedoed by a German submarine in WW2.


This isn’t the ship, mine was called the ‘John R Park’  and lies in Mounts bay off Cornwall but it is identical. Nowadays they use these things called CONTAINERS

Motion Touch shipping container

and move them about in ‘container ships’ like the ones that I see going up and down the Tyne every day.


Don’t see many derricks or steam winches on that Smile Even less on a car ferry, so why the heck am I spending my days learning about ‘preventer guys’, ‘slewing guy pendants’, ‘outboard cargo runners’, ‘schooner guy’ and ‘dolly winches’????

My friendly church clock has just struck 01:15, it’s no wonder I can’t sleep, don’t they know that people have watches these days Smile I’m glad that I don’t live right next door to it, I fell asleep just as people were leaving from the ‘drive in’ next door !!!! . However that was almost four hours ago and now I’m wide awake with a raging thirst thanks to the pork stir fry I made myself for dinner. Mind you it was good and is probably the most adventurous meal I’ve concocted in my six weeks of incarceration. OK, I know it’s not the usual Loch Striven standard but space, utensils, condiments, and ingredients are limited in my little home and my cooker only has two rings Sad smile

Meanwhile on the river

One thing about the Marine Safety Training Centre, you certainly get to see some ships Smile

Here’s the car carrier ‘Pleiades Spirit’  just about to receive the tug Svitzer Sun 


  on Wednesday morning.


The dredger ‘Sand Weaver’ heading up river,


and the Pleiades leaving yesterday with the Svitzer Lyndhurst ahead and the Svitzer Sun astern,


there’s not a great deal of room for error with a ship that size, and this is a wide, straight bit of the Tyne.


That 60,000 ton monster could do a lot of damage if mishandled.


Just after she left the 38,000 ton ‘Maple Ace II’ arrived from Zeebrugge  with more cars.



The Svitzer Redbridge hanging off her stern to help steer and brake her as she comes in with the flood tide.



Anyway that frigging church clock has just struck 02:15 so I’ll just leave you with the workboat ‘Clearwater’, though that’s certainly not a word I’d use to describe the murky waters here.


And a picture of a crane Smile



  1. When you next see a sheep, see if you can borrow some wool to stuff in your ears….at around 1:05.

    Comment by drgeo — November 2, 2012 @ 2:37 am

    • Morning DrG, funnily enough I’ve not seen a sheep in weeks, perhaps some pink hair off a passing student 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 2, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  2. Paul, get some whiskey down yer kneck to knock you out. Me I’m stuck on nights anyway, so this is break time at 2:30am

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — November 2, 2012 @ 2:44 am

  3. I use a bit different whipping for Double Braid line – for me it is quicker than the traditional methods and easier –

    Comment by captnmike — November 2, 2012 @ 4:18 am

  4. Hi Paul, I know what you mean about the bells, the bells…..shades of Notre Dame. We’re now in a small rural French village with a church just off to the back – the bells clang – twice, of course here – on the hour. Thankfully, however, they stop at midnight and resume again at 7am. You do get used to them, in time! They even become quite soothing and pleasant.

    Comment by Iain — November 2, 2012 @ 7:56 am

  5. The best knot ever is the Bowline, using the single-hand method, a real life-saver, fast and easy to do , none of the silly rabbit round tree stuff!

    Comment by caadfael — November 2, 2012 @ 9:12 am

  6. just don’t ever go to Barga, the bells will drive you crazy – not with their noise, just trying to figure out what on earth they mean! If you ever do go, ask me and I’ll explain it so you don’t spend your whole holiday on the alert for the next bell!

    Comment by may cruickshank — November 2, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    • Hi May, don’t think I’m ever going to go anywhere ever again 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 3, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

  7. Can’t help feeling that if you were tucked up in your crofthouse on Raasay it would have taken you about 2 nights to get used to the bells and after that it would be ‘Bells? – what bells?’ You’re homesick – a falling feather would wake you up! Not long now. Anne Macdonald

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — November 2, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    • Hi Anne, yup I think you’re right, I reckon in the right circumstances I’d actually find those bells soothing 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 3, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  8. Agree with Anne on this one Paul.
    The only Bells that should be heard is the clink of a whiky bottle before bedtime, my surgeon recomended it to me and I have to agree its a nice remedie!
    Loving the links on the rope knots, although I can’t say I have ever used any of them other than a few when roping and sheeting wagons in the days before cages and fixed sides!
    You sure are getting to see an array of Ships at the moment, know doubt snapping away with glee, amazing just how massive some of them are and proving the Pilots earn there wage keeping them on the straight and narrow, not as easy as they make it look on the programs I have seen on the telly.
    wondered if you had seen any of the Fred Dibna programs, I have always found him fascinating and his way of explaining things about the industrial age and steam engines really is unique. There is another chap, much younger, who has rebuilt a canal boat while toring the industrial heartlands of old, The boat that Guy built, if you get the chance well worth catching up on the tv websites! Great for the insomniac at night! ;}
    all the best

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — November 2, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

  9. ‘John Park’ how about that !
    Snow on top of Storr and the Coolins….time you were home boy….

    Comment by SOTW — November 2, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

    • There was snow on the top of Oxenhope Moor last night, never mind on the top of the Cuillins! Rather a hairy drive home from my dad’s in Rawtenstall.

      Comment by Nick Bennett — November 2, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

      • Ahh, ‘Rottenstall’ as they say Nick, that takes me back 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 3, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

    • Oops I pressed ‘send’ and it did…
      Re Sconser, what is ‘a dolphin’ ? Is it a mammal, even a shower maybe ?
      Bella’s funeral went very well. We shall all miss a special lady who amongst other things could carry a boll of meal home from Port Arnish with only one stop. Donald who died 2 yrs and 8 days before her could carry the boll to his home on the brae without a stop ! xx

      Comment by SOTW — November 3, 2012 @ 12:04 am

  10. ‘Access to a dolphin is usually by boat’…I think I ‘m losing my grip on reality.x

    Comment by SOTW — November 3, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

  11. I hope no posts will mean you hitched another ride home for the weekend. Just wanted to mention, because I’m forgetful in my old age, that although you won’t need a passport for England, you might need one for your school trip to Holland?

    Comment by drgeo — November 3, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

  12. Hello Paul, here’s an old radio documentary about the Tyne Pilots. Might drown out the sound of the bells for a while…..
    Reards, Brendan

    Comment by Brendan — November 4, 2012 @ 9:42 am

  13. > space, utensils, condiments, and ingredients are limited in my little home and my cooker only has two rings

    I know you’re not a cookbook man, but in the ’70s I thought Katherine Whitehorn’s “Cooking In A Bedsitter” was just the job, even though I managed to avoid actually living in a bedsit.

    A more modern edition for 99p + £1.75:

    Comment by San — November 4, 2012 @ 6:09 pm

    • Cheers for that San, I’ve just rediscovered the ‘stir fry’ though so all my woes are sorted, though I am cheating with an off the shelf sauce 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 5, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

  14. Hi Paul, It takes me back to when i went to Warsash Maritime Centre, and the transition from Rural Isle of Wight to sleepy Warsash is nothing to your transition!!
    I remember thinking the same about Cargo Derricks, union Purchase and the like. Do you still have to do a wire splice (again illegal to do!!)?? Our lecturer was pretty unforgiving (he too had come out of retirement having served on HMS Warrior), if you stepped over the ‘mooring line’ he used to whack you with his cane in the unmentionables, to simulate the line parting… Lovely chap!

    Comment by sailor_boy37 — November 5, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

    • Morning SB37 and welcome aboard,

      if you stepped over the ‘mooring line’ he used to whack you with his cane in the unmentionables, to simulate the line parting…

      🙂 🙂 Still, I bet you never stepped into ‘snap back zone’ ever again. I’m surprised that our company didn’t send us to Warsash, at times it seems like they tried to find the furthest college from home just to p155 everyone off.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 6, 2012 @ 6:24 am

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