‘Cachalot’ was honoured to receive one of the National Transport Trust Restoration Awards in 2009, sufficient to purchase the majority of the planking.
We were most grateful to be awarded the grant, but sincere apologies must go to the National Transport Trust for taking rather longer than anticipated to finish the work! In our proposal, we indicated ‘Cachalot’ would be ready to join the Return to Dunkirk in 2015. Following delays to the planking, we had hoped to join the ‘Return’ in 2020 but due to Covid19 pandemic restrictions, it was cancelled. The halt in planking was caused by the decision to replace the stern as well as the stem. Once these were in place, planking continued in earnest at the beginning of 2010. On 14 June, 2010 were invited to Camden Roundhouse where Steve was presented with the award by HRH Prince Michael of Kent.
Once the stem and stern were in place, we returned in earnest to planking, with guidance and advice from Paul. Steve’s first plank is measured up, planed, placed – and soundly rejected. Try again, and Steve gets the ‘OK’ from Paul, and by the end of his first week in April 2010 there’s several new planks shaping up from stem to counterstern. As its well into the sailing season, we joined in with East Coast OGA events and had visitations from several members and visiting bertholders at the Tidemill YH. All this moral support was most valuable.
After a failed attempt to scarfe a short plank, Steve was becoming quite proficient with planking and we started to hone our skills with the ‘dolly’. By September, 2010 old planks were coming off and new wood going in so fast the scrap woodpile was growing quite high, but the stock of new wood was diminishing . . .
Easter was late April 2011, followed by a string of Bank Holidays, so Steve spent three whole weeks in Woodbridge making excellent progress on the starboard side. The decision to remove the garboards meant another extension to the schedule though and purchase of some wide iroko boards from Buildbase in Ipswich. After carefully spiling, fitting, planing and securing the garboard on the starboard side, Steve decided to put in one last screw and was horrified to hear a loud bang. A three foot split had appeared in the for’ard end. Following discussions with Paul, it was agreed that this could be repaired in situ.
The original estimate for planking didn’t account for replacing the stem, resulting in the need for a serious reassessment of the remaining wood stock. Several conversations resulted in sourcing two more loads of larch. The first from JK at Mel Skeets. Some more good lengths, originally purchased to restore ‘Clytie’ were also available. With assistance from Paul, and two trips courtesy of Paul Masters and his trailer, Steve re-stocked the pile beside the tent.
Having engaged Paul to work on the planking, the hull was beginning to take shape by the end of 2011. Steve made finishing touches to the garboards, now snugly fitting on port and starboard. More of an expert than when he started, Steve kept finding things not quite up to scratch, removing a couple more frames and floors as patterns to make new ones over the winter! With all the new planks, there was lots to do with the ‘dolly’. Inside the hull, Steve had difficulty finding a stance that didn’t result in more holes in his jeans while Beverley had to borrow the ear defenders to shield herself from the deafening resonance of the hammer on roves. By the end of August, 2011 another box of roves was gone and a hundred or so new nails were holding the planks in place. The bill for these small boxes was scary every time we had a delivery from Anglia Stainless.