January 2018: Snowed under

A snowy workday

Each year at the end of October, after seven months cruising up and down Coniston Water, Steam Yacht Gondola is hauled out of the water and covered up for the winter.

Steam Yacht Gondola under her winter cover
Gondola under protective cover
Steam Yacht Gondola under her winter cover

In spring, we take the covers off and slide her back into the lake for another season’s cruises.

Oh, if only it was that simple!
 
From the day we take Gondola out of service in October until the day we launch her again for the new season in March, staff and volunteers are snowed under with repairs, maintenance and servicing work. 

The Gondola crew transform themselves into maintenance workers for the winter
Gondola crew during the haul out
The Gondola crew transform themselves into maintenance workers for the winter

Each year, Operations Manager Bill puts together a detailed plan for the team. There are over a hundred separate tasks to be completed on this winter's plan. Some of the work is challenging, some mundane (sanding and varnishing) and some, quite frankly, sounds a little bizarre to those unfamiliar with the world of steam boats e.g. ‘remove blowdown pipe’, ‘service seacocks’, ‘clean strum boxes’.

This year’s major jobs are the servicing of the engine and hull, followed by rebuild projects for the saloon skylight window frames and the aft wing sections adjacent to the Purser’s office and Bear Pit steps which have suffered from extensive rot and now require complete refurbishment.

The skylight window frames will be replaced this winter
Gondola's skylight
The skylight window frames will be replaced this winter

Once all the jobs are finished we go through what we call the ‘work-up period’ when we relaunch and thoroughly test all systems aboard the vessel. This period is also used to conduct pre-season refresher training for all crew members and volunteers. 

Jetties used by Steam Yacht Gondola are also checked, renovated and cleaned as necessary to ensure safety for customers and crew during the 2018 operating season.

With all the work that needs doing, it's a good job the crew are fast workers as seen in the video below where Paul and Graham, seal, cover and re-seal the wheelhouse roof in double-quick time.

Sailings re-commence 24 Mar 2018. See you soon.