The only way was Essex for Boatbreakers after the Bank Holiday weekend.
This week the Boatbreakers team hit the road and headed for Essex to dispose of an old wooden yacht that was sitting in a couple’s garden. The boat’s position in the orchard area of the garden meant getting a hi-ab or any heavy lifting gear was out of the question.
Our plan was to take a trailer up with us, chop the boat into parts, load those parts up and take them to a waste disposal centre that we had found locally. With a plan like this which sounds fairly simple there are always difficulties.
We seemed to have unwittingly picked two of the hottest days of the year so we had to make sure we had plenty of suncream and water. And the garden although being very picturesque had some difficulties of its own, these were lots of mosquitos and stinging nettles. It was due to be an itchy job.
One bonus was that the boat was wood instead of fibreglass. It usually means that it’s easier to hammer out the interior and cut the section with minimal mess. Also and dust/bits that we miss in the final clean up stage is natural wood and won’t harm the environment.
We set off from Portsmouth with our cutters, team, tools, tarpaulin and trailer in the morning at around 9am. After some traffic congestion at Dartford and some lunch along the way we arrived on site in Colchester just after 1pm. Once we had manoeuvred the trailer into the property and around the various wood piles we set about stripping the boat down of anything loose and all the rigging.
The initial cut we will usually choose is to get a section of the bow off. It’s usually one of the more tricky parts as you have to keep getting inside and out to make sure all supporting beams have been cut. Thre is also the added difficulty of removing anchors, chains and the pulpit before the cut can be made.
Whilst the initial cuts were taking place our team also emptied the boat’s interior. Anything loose was removed and the wooden structures inside were pulled apart using a hammer. There was some large areas of rot in the boat and it was also clear a family of mice had been living onboard although after seeing the chopping equipment they quickly abandoned ship.
As the first cuts were finished and the nose of the boat was pushed off we made quick progress through the central sections. The idea was to cut down to just above the keels so that they would keep the boat stood upright during the demolition.
By 6pm on the first day we called it a night partly due to the onslaught of mozzie bites. The trailer was loaded up with waste and ready to be taken to the local waste recyclers the next morning. Over half the boat had been chopped and the engine had been exposed ready for removal.