A'Bhirlinn at Oxford having been
transported by Steve Thomas after her sinking in Portsmouth Harbour in
strong winds in the early part of 1993. She was raised by Royal Navy
divers as an exercise.
This was April, and after this visit we decided to return in May after the
Albert Strange Association gathering in May at Gloucester, before
committing ourselves fully. Everything was smeared with a grey smelly,
Steve Thomas sailed A'Bhirlinn ('Aver-lin') back from the Caribbean in
1989 with his 14 year old son, having spent some time out there with her
as a stop off on a round the world voyage, an encounter with a mugger and
a heavy stick had put paid to his sight and his trip. (See Albert Strange
Association Yearbook 1991).
She had apparently been moored in Portsmouth Harbour near another boat
which in the strong winds had leant on her, lifted the side deck off, and
held her under. She was moored by a rope round the anchor winch, which
when she sank, was left attached to the buoy - pulling the foredeck off.
Steve had realised that her repair was way beyond his budget, with a new
She is 1" Teak on Oak Frames, with Rock Elm steamed timbers. with 1" of
Teak cover board, toe rail and deck, on oak deck beams.
The boat was by now propped by ACRO props, and blocks of wood, and level
(We even used a spirit level!) at this stage we realised that it would
have been better to have put the boat nose up the garden as the slope of
the keel would have put her level.
The deck beams are in a bad way, two
missing (attached to foredeck) and the second one back is not attached to
the deck shelf on the port side. The gash right of centre is the hole for
the anchor chain to go through. The anchor winch was between these two
beams, and only attached to the deck - not the beams.
We have recently removed the old and battered rudder, the bottom of it rests
in a socket, but the rod that goes into the socket had worn down to pencil
lead thickness. Seeing this we wonder how much Steve Thomas knew when he
set off back across the Atlantic four years before.
A new and better tent was needed, and the frame from a plastic greenhouse
was coated in layers of tarpaulin. The rain started as the last tarpaulin
was raised into place. The open ends allow plenty of air movement, and the
open sides also help too cool it down, it may be rather cold in winter
But at this stage it was still intended to have the boat watertight by
winter so that the shed can go (some hope!)
|A sprung plank on the starboard side,
new in May 1995 suggested that we would have more work to do, if one
plank has sprung, how many other planks might be in the same
With work pressures (and a family wedding), 1995 slipped by, 1996 was
also uneventful, but we have at least got A'Bhirlinn to about the
maximum state of disrepair that she will get to.
All we have to do is rebuild her now!