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Archive for April 13th, 2012

Boat Blog: Getting ready for the Jubilee Pageant

Posted by indigodream on 13 April, 2012

Thursday 12th April

Last year's Thames River Festival - with 100 boats taking part - now imagine 1,000 boats - the jubilee will be such an adventure!

We’ve had another stressful week with the hounds, this time with the news that poor Lou has an MRSA infection in the wound in her foot. The original cut has finally healed – after a month of stitches, thick bandages and antibiotics; but when her bandages were taken off today, we found two deep and ugly pressure sores. These have been swabbed to see whether they’re infected with MRSA but they look so bad that we’ve been advised to take her to the vet every day for the next several days so that they can keep an eye on the wounds. Lou is very pleased that the thick bandages are off but the pressure sores are obviously very painful and she is quite depressed (though not too depressed to eat!). Obviously we’re being very careful that the infection doesn’t spread to us or to the other dogs – it shouldn’t, provided we use common sense hygiene and take care of any cuts/wounds. We also have worries about Poppy’s kidneys but at least today’s scan showed her heart is reasonable for her age, her wrist x-rayed ok and actually she is very content.

It’s been so stressful that I’ve decided to concentrate on nice things in this blog – like the preparations for the Jubilee Pageant – we’re so excited!

The weekends in May will be taken up with rehearsals for the Jubilee Pageant – but that’s not the half of it – in this season of ‘Titanic’ commemorations I can’t resist saying that the rehearsals are the tip of the iceberg ๐Ÿ™‚

Preparations for the event are detailed and plentiful. We are receiving roughly two briefings per week – one from the main pageant organisers and one from Andrew Phasey, who is heading up the narrowboat section.

The first job which we had to do was to accept our invitation to join the pageant and send in the relevant paperwork. This included our current boat insurance certificate, having checked that our insurers were happy to cover us to take part (no problem at all). There is a small technical hitch in that our current insurance expires in May but we renewed our insurance yesterday so in good time for the event. All these things will be checked, along with the identity of all on board, during the safety/due diligence inspections that will take place on the day before the main event.

Setting off from the wall at Barn Elms Reach - we'll be setting off from mid-river moorings at the start of the Jubilee - I think we'll need the practice runs ๐Ÿ™‚

The next job was to think about and invite people to be our crew. There’s a good reason for wanting crew – it’s a big event and its nice to share our good fortune in being selected with as many people as is safely possible; but we also need crew to work! We’re actually going to be on the water for around 12 hours with no hope of landing (we’ll be mustering on mid-river moorings while waiting for the pageant to begin) so we’ll be able to spell each other on the helm and things so we’re not too tired by the end of the day. Unless someone tells me not to, I plan to write a rolling blog during the day- a bit like I do for the BCN Challenge – we have some guest bloggers on board so they can expect to spend part of the day typing ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ve had to make the decision about the crew rather earlier than we expected – everyone on board had to completed a detailed form which we’ve had to submit to Project Kraken at the Met Police – let’s hope that everyone passes through security!

Choosing the crew has given us the most angst – it’s impossible to take all of our boating friends, though the fact that we needed experienced crew excluded our non-boating friends, which made things a bit easier. We decided to only include people who had cruised the tideway with us before – that made the list much more manageable. Of course, the jubilee clashes with Crick and that caused some problems for our potential crew. The really earlyย  start is also a factor – the whole crew needs to be on board by 6.30am! The fact that we’re going to be together in a confined space for 12 hours was also a consideration.

We’ve had many discussions about it, but now we have our final line-up:

  • Sarah and Andy from nb Greyhound – Sarah will be my minder when I’m in the greyhound costume and will hopefully write a travel post or two. Andy is good with electronics so he will be helpful on any maintenance/breakdown issues (hope there aren’t any!)
  • Neil and Kath from nb Herbie – talented bloggers, competent helms and experienced engine tinkerers. They didn’t panic when fellow narrowboat Leo No. 2 went submarine during the rehearsals – that was yet another important consideration!
  • Steve and Margaret from nb North Star – old friends from our home village and experienced narrowboaters – Steve has been on the tideway with us before and we could hardly exclude Margaret!
  • Wyn – my cousin’s husband – the only exception to our rule, but he’s family so it doesn’t count! Wyn loves boating and is very steady around the boat – he’s also mechanically adept and a useful addition to our maintenance team. Cousin Denise doesn’t like deep water so she’ll be on shore, cheering us on – she may also be dog-sitting for us…

This is when the crew needs to keep a cool head....

Another interesting job has been choosing and ordering our flags – there are strict rules about how your boats can be decorated – no commercial material is allowed at all. Luckily charities can be supported via flags and bunting but banners are not allowed. So we’ve ordered a CRT flag and bunting, Retired Greyhound Trust (RGT) flag and bunting and, of course, a jubilee pageant flag. We can’t wait to see them – the RGT have printed special flags and bunting in blue to match the boat, with a bright yellow logo/wording. The jubilee flag is a thing of beauty.

Of course, you can’t fly flags without flag poles! We think that one flag will go on the swan neck, but what about the other two? Well, you can buy anything on the internet, so Richard has just taken delivery of a short flag pole and a special angled bracket which we can attach to the ‘enclosure’ around Indigo Dream’s back deck. The angle of the bracket that we’ve bought may be too acute so we’ll try it out this weekend – with a suitably sized rag to act as the flag. It it works then we’ll order another for the other side of the boat. We’re hoping to swag the bunting along the side of the cabin so we’ll be ordering more magnetic hooks – we’ve got a load already – you’d be surprised how useful they are…..

We’re also thinking ahead to dog-care – the jubilee is quite involved – we need to attend a final briefing on Thursday 31st, then on Friday 1st June we’re moving the boats in convoy to the first muster point in West India Dock. On Saturday 2nd we will have the day to undergo our final safety/due diligence inspections and to decorate our boats. Sunday 3rd is the main event (Hurrah!) – I think we’re all expected to go back to West India Dock for the night then we’ll move back to Limehouse on the Monday. Phew, we really need the extra bank holiday! We’ll need to find dog care for the entire four days as it’s likely that we’ll be brested up in

And of course we will maintain a tasteful balance between fun and dignity - anything to promote greyhound rescue!

goodness knows how big a raft in West India Dock, and Jubilee day itself is a 12-hour marathon on the river. We have many cunning plans for dog care, though no use planning too far ahead – who knows how many hounds we’ll have by then or what condition they’ll be in ๐Ÿ™‚

We have many more items on our jubilee to-do list – I’ll keep you posted as we get them done……

In the meantime, we still have a few places available on the rehearsal cruises – it’s essential for our crew to complete at least one rehearsal – the rest of you can come along for the jolly!

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