Having already topped up her bunkers at Holyhead and Falmouth on her way from the Clyde to Chatham, Jeanie Deans made a call at Southampton on Friday 12th November 1965 to fill them up once again.
All had not gone terribly well at Falmouth. A pilot had been taken and he had wanted to do the handling so Captain Woods had left him to it. This resulted in the berthing going awry with the Jeanie becoming wedged across a corner of the dock from which she had to be extricated by using long warping ropes to pull her out.
She did not stay long in Falmouth and not long enough for Chief Engineer Arthur Blue to achieve his ambition to exchange some of the Fray Bentos steak pies for real Cornish pasties.
Captain Woods had the pilotage for the old Trinity House Isle of Wight District so he didn’t need to take a pilot as he sailed up the Needles Channel and on up the Solent and Southampton Water to take on fuel at the bunkering station. As he went in he swung on the anchor, a very seamanlike thing to do with the tide under you, leaving the anchor nicely positioned for hauling him off the barge after bunkering and with the bow head out.
The fuel was taken aboard. The dockets were exchanged. Stand by was rung on the telegraph and the anchor winch was engaged. It rattled on round pulling in the chain but the more that came in the slower it went round until eventually when the anchor broke surface it was revealed to have snagged a cable, which was part of the fuel barge’s ground tackle, which was hanging off it. As Arthur Blue recounts “We managed to lift the tangle far enough to confirm the problem whereupon it was easy enough to climb down and hang the offending wire off before slacking out own cable away and releasing the anchor.”
Whether anyone saw any of this going on with the fuel barge’s ground tackle I don’t know but once free the telegraph was put on full ahead and Jeanie Deans sped off down Southampton Water and on out to sea.
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.
This article was first published on 12th November 2020.