The man from the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) came to carry out a heel test on Gondola last week. The test aims to determine how Gondola tilts or ‘heels’ with changes in weight distribution, as would happen if all the passengers suddenly decide to move to one side of the boat.
Obviously, we don’t carry out the test with real passengers. We have to replicate the weight of each passenger with barrels of water. Here’s a picture of us filling the first few barrels.
Gondola is licensed to carry 86 passengers. Each passenger is represented in the test by three 25 litre barrels of water, so that meant filling 268 twenty-five litre barrels! You have to take your time otherwise there's water everywhere - throw in a couple of giant foam rubber costumes and it would be like ‘It’s A Knockout’.
The barrels are distributed around the boat where the passengers normally sit. It took a while to wheel, drag and carry all 268 barrels into place.
After a while, with all hands to the pumps, we managed to get all the barrels into position. Here is the forward saloon seating area, chock-a-block with barrels ready for the test to start.
The man from the MCA, let’s call him Ian (because that was his name), then began taking his measurements around the boat with the help of crewman Scott.
Measurements were taken with a balanced load and then we went through the arduous process of shifting barrels again, this time from one side of the boat to the other to determine the tilt of the boat with the weight mainly on the starboard side. You can see from the balanced load (left) and unbalanced load (right) below that the boat does heel slightly, but not by much.
As the final measurements were taken, we all waited to see if Gondola had passed the test. I’m pleased to say that the Man from the MCA, like the Man from Del Monte, he say ‘Yes’!
We have one more test to carry out before Gondola goes back on the water - the ‘man overboard’ test.
This year we figured we’d go for greater realism and seek a volunteer for the job. One of our crewmen, Dave (the Davina McCall of the crew), recently and somewhat briefly, experimented with open water swimming, so we thought we’d ask him to volunteer. Unfortunately, my hearing isn’t what it used to be, but I’m fairly sure he answered in the negative.
I guess we’ll just have to use a dummy as we always do.