Saturday 15 April 2017

Weighing heavy

Loading up The Jam Butty
April 2017

Well, after a delay of exactly one year we are nearly ready for the off.

In some ways 2016 seems like the year that never happened but Helen is now well on the road to a full recovery and our delayed plans are swinging into action.

As prelude to our departure there was the small matter of my job but finally, after 38 years, I have parted company with my illustrious employer. Yes, I have joined the ranks of the pension receivers (I am far too young and vain to be described as retired) So, this now frees us up to go travelling.

During the winter months I have, under the critical eye of Mrs "quality control" been busy emptying the freezers and transforming their contents into a range of mouth watering preserves. To be honest I did add up how much we had in stock about six weeks ago, but since then Sticky Toffee Pudding jam and a huge batch of Wild Garlic Vinegar have rolled of the Wild Side production line and I sort of lost count at 2,000 jars.

Now all that stock is heavy, really heavy. I have loaded the Zafira to the gills three times with finished product and again with new glassware and it all had to be loaded into the butty. No problem I hear you say, butties are made to carry loads - its the whole purpose of their existence. Well, yes - and no. The Jam Butty is not exactly a normal butty as it is essentially all front and back with only about six feet of straight plate in the middle. As a result the buoyancy of the stern is limited and made worse by the presence of a heavy steel cabin. 

Before we started the ambient trim of the butty was about 14" at the bow and about 2' 10" at the stern with a propensity to list to the left (port for you salty types) and getting the trim right when loading has always been a challenge. If it was a challenge when carrying stock for 3 or 4 days trading imagine the issues when loading enough stock for 14 or 15 days - enough to last us right through to the Black Boating Festival in September. 

I tend to use the back cabin for storage, locating boxes of preserves under and on the benches, but for this voyage I have added a large watertight hold box capable of carrying an additional 700 jars. This box (it looks a bit like Hagrid's coffin) can me moved from side to side to balance out any listing. This aspect of the plan worked pretty well and by moving the heavy gazebo from side to side managed to achieve a very level boat, and with all that weight below the waterline its also very stable for such a short craft. 

However, and isnt there always a however, I did have a problem with the pitch. As I mentioned the boat sits naturally bows high which allows the bulk of the prop wash to pass under the butty and the deep stern acts like a drogue keeping it straight. The additional weight at the back of the cabin caused it to sink even deeper to the point that when I stood on the back water started to come into the well deck through the drain holes rather than the other way around! Whilst there is no danger of the boat sinking, this isn't good.....

To counter this tendency I had to reconfigure the loading to bring the weight forward wherever possible, thereby taking greater advantage of the additional buoyancy in the hold section. With much re ordering I have managed to get the whole thing balanced and its now sitting about an inch and a half down to the left and two inched to the right, evenly spread along the whole length of the boat. But thats it - as Jim McCoy said in Star Trek - "she canna take no more, Capn". 

Note for future - pack a bit less jam!


Carol said...

So glad to hear that Helen is well on the way to full recovery and that you have joined the rest of us pensioners to be free to travel wherever whenever. I've enjoyed your way of calculating the jams' weight and trim of your butty, a bit like my maths (not at all like science)!.

Have a great season and wish you a good road.

Ian Bingham said...

Cruising the canals rather than working in an office? Nothing like as much fun as it may seem. I tried it for a few years and it was awful.

All the best.