Raybel in dry dock (c) Raybel Charters
On the high tide of November 16th, after months of careful planning, the restoration team at Raybel Charters successfully manoeuvred Raybel into the safe berth of the dry dock, with the utmost precision.
There had been plenty to do in prepartion, with the main task to sort out the valves that are crucial to making the dock water-tight and wate-regulated. There are four of these – one in each corner – and all were either missing or broken. They had a donation of two valves, and these were fitted to a couple of the sumps, whilst the other two were concreted in. The valve boxes were then reinforced all round with 3 inches of concrete.  Big shout to volunteer John Waterman who did the lion’s share of this work. Test runs proved the design – the valves work perfectly, with the dry dock rising and falling to order.
Raybel Charters thank all their volunteers for their invaluable skills, patience and ability to navigate around the most frustrating problems - and to project manager Mark and bosun Rob for hitting that deadline!

They're now ready for the main shipwright work to start ... very soon.

They'll have more training and volunteer opportunities in the offing then. As ever, get in touch to get involved info@raybelcharters.com

Wharf regeneration
Aerial view of Raybel at Milton Creek (c) Raybel Charters

Wharf-side, more work has taken place to get the site up and running as a mini-bargeyard,  reviving the industrial heritage not seen in this part of Milton Creek for decades.  The roof over the container workshop area has been completed and works well - becoming the socially distanced lunch spot for volunteers.
It’s already remarkable to think this was an empty slab of concrete, with a vacant museum building in the centre, just a year ago.

The team are hoping to announce some more exciting news about wharf regen plans very soon ….. !!!

The ‘Raybel Story’ opens
In late September they were delighted to finally hold a first Open Day of the year.  Great to welcome over 40 people – many coming down to the wharf for the first time.
Guided tours of the barge were on offer, and they launched the first phase of the ‘Raybel Story’ exhibition, a co-production with the Society for Sailing Barge Research and Swale Migration Stories.  It features the historic photos we’ve got hold of so far, along with copies of Raybel’s log books, which it was amazing to receive all the way from Canada, where they are held in the Newfoundland Archive (LOTS of archive digging to be done into those).
There’s a mesmerizing display about sail dressing and stitching; and the winning entries (they were all winners) from the creative competition we ran during the first lockdown.
The exhibition will be expanded gradually over the next two years, as we collect more through volunteer research and archiving.

Find out more about Raybel Charters and our other Shipshape Network South East Projects here.