Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Ash blocks to Baggywrinkle by way of mats

Here we are, possibly half way through winter and very little snow, by Maine standards, has fallen. The temperatures have been up and down with last week recording 50F (10C) and next week-end projecting to fall to -6F (-21C). Still beats being in the Caribbean as for as we're concerned.

A couple of posts ago I wrote about the ash blocks we had bought from Peavey' the end of a recent astro class John, the guy leading the course, said he'd had a message from his mate, Brian in London, asking what we intended doing with them. “Burn them” I replied. It seemed a straight forward answer to the question but John took a step back, his face draining of colour and in a strangulated voice croaked “burn them.....!.” 
Ash blocks from Peavey's - $10 for half a cord..
Well two things were going on here. Both John and Brian are wooden boat people and the ash blocks they were thinking of are frequently used aboard traditional vessels. Indeed we probably have twenty or more scattered about our boat. But I was possibly guilty of sloppy English by simply referring to the wood as ash blocks. So here's a pic of said item to ensure that wooden boat people everywhere are not even more offended that the heretical concrete gaffer crew burns precious stuff.

On a recent trip to HM we were looking at lobster rope mats. Kathy,the HM, thought we could knock them up ourselves and ”it might be fun”. She duly talked to the lobster men around the harbour and asked them for their old float rope. 

As they can no longer legally use the stuff  (the Northern Right Whale can become entangled in it) we were given several hundred feet of the rope in a variety of colours and we set to work after Bee had found a site that showed a jig, Kathy organised the needed bits, made the jig and turned us loose. The first couple were pretty disastrous as I completely got the measurements wrong and the mat was too big for the space we wanted to put it in. 
Bee adding a "through" line - still a bit of work to complete

However undoing and restarting isn't hard and we now have several mats that fit the intended spaces. The time to complete varies – anything from a couple hours to most of the day for the large size and if we were going to produce a number of them we might well re-design the jig and save ourselves a lot of work. The biggest advantage, as far as we're concerned is, unlike the mat that has normally sat on the bridge deck, they don't hold water and are fairly easy to keep clean. Plus a good use of colourful, old rope.

The start of the baggywrinkle process
And here's another good use of old rope, Bee, having cut down the old 3 strand to the required length can be seen cow hitching the strands onto line in the first stage of making new 'wrinkle for the rigging. The bitter end is tied off, the strands teased out and then the whole lot is attached to a shroud and wound around to produce the mop like effect that constantly baffles folks wandering by. 

Just needs teasing out..

And once, notably, a yot motoring by us in the BVI, filming as they went. The audible conversation went along the lines of wondering what they (the baggywrinkle) might be, before concluding they must be to trap rats or some such nonsense. Jeez where do they get it from.

When we first arrived in Belfast in 2004, a railroad ran long the front and up country, taking day trippers. Now the line has been torn up and a walk-way constructed and it is possible to walk the "line" out to the head of the tide where the railway now resides. 

We did it recently, tramping through snow on a brisk day, enjoying the day and viewing the river and surrounding countryside. Ice was much in evidence, and the sound of it cracking as the tide fell took us back to Greenland... but here the ice would soon be making its way down stream and probably gathering around the dockside boats.

Winter resting place..
Many of the houses along the river are, by US standards, quite modest although a number of "grander" ones are beginning to appear as Belfast loses its working class image - chicken processing plants, the river full of feathers and guts - and becomes more trendy. We recently walked back from friends who live out of town, through streets we'd never been down, marveling at the houses, sadly many of them shut down for the winter as the owners flee south to warmer climes.

 I think the railway has a chequered history and I don't know/remember enough to write about it but it adds a touch of colour to the landscape. To get back to town involves returning by road so not so interesting but a pleasant trip overall. 
 One of the joys of anchoring in this part of the world is to share the anchorage with loons. Nothing compares to a quiet, well protected anchorage, lit only by the stars and moon and the solitude broken only the loons haunting cry. It never fails to stop us doing whatever it is to simply stand and listen. 
Sitting out the falling snow..

Belfast Me