Another guy hard at work carrying on the Volunteering effort through this Winter, is My Oppo, Richard, my pairing partner since back in the days of the rebuild when we used to man the Visitor Centre and the viewing gallery on the barge itself on the weekends. In those days we were paired up, a dozen of us in 6 pairs, so you were ‘shifted’ every sixth week. Even then Richard would also turn up during the week as well as our official weekends and set about painting winch bodies or the lee-boards, quietly working away on his own in one of the sheds or where ever the job took him.
Today’s picture is of his latest ‘project’, repainting and re-varnishing the mizzen gaff pole. You can see the white painted ‘Y’ shaped “throat” part of the pole central in the picture and the shiny pole stretching away towards top left. This spar carries the top edge (head) of our mizzen sail, which is laced to it, partnered up with the boom pole along the bottom edge (foot). It is the gaff rig on out mizzen which defines Cambria as a ‘Mulie’ barge. Mulie comes from Mule-rig or ‘hybrid’ rig (the mule being a female horse x male donkey hybrid), our mainsail being the famous ‘sprit-sail’ rig and the mizzen a gaff-rig. This is as opposed to full sprit-sail rigged barges like SB Edith May.
Talking of gaff-rigs, regular readers will know that I am a fan of the gaff rig traditional Western Ireland workboat, the Galway Hooker. Thank you very much to Boss of Volunteers, Basil who has just managed to get burned to DVD (from video tape) the old RTE (Irish TV company) film “The Last Galway Hooker” which is an hour long delight of shipwrightery. It’s not that easy to get hold of this film and it generally comes now as a DVD attached to a book on the subject but I recommend it if you can blag a copy. An example of its deliciousness is some footage of the shipwright cutting out quite a complex frame shape from a slab of oak going round all the curves he has drawn but holding the chainsaw (!) at a jaunty angle BY EYE to give the correct bevel as he goes along. Incidentally, he is wearing normal jeans and suede loafers, no face or eye protection and no kevlar gloves so I don’t think he’d have passed any ‘elf and safety’ inspections; I wouldn’t recommend watching it if you happen to be a H+S Official.