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Gloucester Docks &
the Sharpness Canal


A Coaster to Gloucester

For more on ships, see Sharpness Ships, Sand for RMCRoyal Navy, Square Sail,
Kathleen & May, Lightship Sula

The German coaster Kormoran passed up the canal on Friday 25 June 2004 to collect oil rig plant from the Axsia Serck Baker wharf near Hempsted. This was the first coaster to navigate the canal since February 1997, and many interested spectators gathered at each of the bridges to see her go by. She was loaded on Monday 28 June and passed down the canal the following day.

On her passage up the canal, the coaster proceeded carefully at around walking speed so she could negotiate the narrow bridge-holes and some tricky bends. She was guided by the last working canal pilot, who also had to avoid the moored pleasure craft that now line the canal in places.

Most of the time, her engine was just ticking over, but occasionally it came to life with a deep chugging sound, particularly when the pilot needed a flow of water past the rudder to adjust his heading slightly. The coaster was preceded by a patrol launch to ensure other craft did not get in the way and that the swing bridges were open in good time.

MV Kormoran at Saul Junction
Passing the foot-bridge at Saul Junction

The coaster turned at Monk Meadow Dock, with the help of a check rope attached to a ring on the corner of the dock, and went back down the canal to moor up at the wharf now occupied by Axsia Serck Baker near Two Mile Bend. There a huge crane was used to load several bulky items of specialist water treatment equipment which only just fitted through the ship's hatchway.

The wharf was formerly used by S J Moreland & Sons for storing aspen logs that were cut up for making matches. (Photo: M Zair)

Loading MV Kormoran
Loading a unit of water treatment equipment

The return journey down the canal was also taken slowly, again with a patrol launch ahead. The ship was still high in the water, as the cargo only weighed about 120 tons. It was taken direct to Egersund in Norway to be installed on an offshore oil production platform located in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

The coaster had previously visited Gloucester in October 1976, then with the name Dorte Star. Let us hope that she and others will visit Gloucester again.

MV Kormoran at Sellars Bridge
Returning through Sellars Bridge

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