Monday, May 21, 2012

To conclude the British leg of the boat's journey

So here I am to conclude the British leg of the boat's journey. As of Wednesday it will be residing in Boulogne-sur-mer in France for 6 months and then heading to Velzeke in Belgium for another 6 months before returning to Dover. If you haven't already seen all the press coverage, then the launch event didn't really go to plan as the boat took on water. Our initial vision of the launch had been totally shattered by this point in any case as, hinted on in previous posts, things went a little wrong on the Wednesday. Not horrifically so but enough that forward planning even by the 3 days was useless so we just had everyone on standby and went from there. Luckily the people involved were incredibly relaxed and helpful so everything ended up fine.
Not so much for the rest of us though. The launch was scheduled for 2pm and the boat builders (Richard Darrah, Robin Wood, Trevor Marsden, Rachel Head, Sam Curtis and Damian Sanders), who deserve all the credit in the world, were chipping away at it until 1pm on launch day and had racked up some ridiculous hours working on it the few days before. Robin's blog ( sums all the action up nicely and has some great images of them all trawling on through the night. All the local press was out, as was Time Team (including Tony Robinson). I was nominated to stand on the sea front and direct people so I missed all the action. Essentially what happened was that due to our last minute plan changes we decided it would be a better idea to lower the boat into the marina using the sling they use to lower yachts in, that way if it did take on water it wouldn't sink to the bottom! The boat did indeed start to take on water, slowly at first, but the decision was made to raise it up before the boat was irreversibly damaged.

The boat being raised in the yacht sling. Photo courtesy of CAT
And as so many people had gathered to watch the boat being paddled in the harbour, including Tony Robinson who had returned to have a go, we loaded it back onto it's trailer and drove it over to the seafront where the crowd could see it close up and have a chat to the builders.
The boat on display on the seafront. Photo courtesy of CAT.

Now, I know there were a few people who were a bit disappointed but I was not one of them I assure you. It was a pleasure to see the boat come together over the last few weeks and I'm so chuffed I got to help even if it was only in a small way. The information gained from reconstructing the boat has certainly turned a few commonly held theories on the Bronze Age on their head and has defiantly enhanced the story surrounding the original. This project has been a massive success, with regards to the physical construction of the vessel, although I'm sure we'd have all liked an extra month or two to really perfect it. It was patched up and re-launched (in private this time!) and did float for a little while longer, helped by a crew of 2 who were bailing the water out, but yet again started taking too much on board. Unfortunatly time has run out and it must leave us for France, maybe when it returns we can have another bash!

Again I'd like to thank the boat builders for all their hard work and dedication, and also to Dover Sea Safari ( and the Dover Harbour Board for all their help, understanding and support; it was no smooth ride! Canterbury Christchurch University ( lent us a brass band to play some music so thank you to them. Finally I'd like to re-iterate my thanks to Faith and Terry who have both given up so much of their time to help guide the visitors around the boat's history and construction.

I'll keep you updated on any developments in France and Belgium. be continued....

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