The Thanet Clive Fart Column

Working For the Council

A bloke goes to Thanet council to apply for a job in the council leader’s office.

The interviewer asks him, “Are you allergic to anything?”
He replies, “Yes, caffeine.”
“Have you ever worked for the public service before?”
“Yes, I was in the army” he says, “I was in Iraq for two tours.”
The interviewer says, “That will give you 5 extra points toward employment.”
Then he asks, “Are you disabled in any way?”
The guy says, “Yes. A mine exploded near me when I was there and I lost both of my testicles”.

The interviewer grimaces and then says, “O.K. You’ve got enough points for me to take you on
right away.
Our normal hours are from 8.00am to 4.00pm, but you can start tomorrow at 10.00am – and carry on starting at 10.00am every day.”
The bloke is puzzled and asks, “If the work hours are from 8.00am to 4.00pm, why don’t you want me here until 10.00am?
I’m not looking for any special treatment y’know”
“What you have to understand is that this is a council job,” the interviewer says,
“For the first two hours, we just stand around drinking coffee and scratching our bollocks”

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Sunny Margitt

Spring is truly here, in fact it was so sunny and pleasant today that we of  the towers partook of a late afternoon perambulation along the foreshore. Sights to behold, only the culture centre that is Margitt could host such celebration of beach style, a feast for the eyes?

Capture Drunk on beach

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Boats, drivel and other stuff.

MV Robin

Pictured in Lowestoft circa 2009 or possibly 2010. The good but terribly uninteresting ship, ‘Robin’. The beneficiary of lorry loads of public and legacy cash to restore this boring old un-miraculous hull and tow it to somewhere as a museum piece which will dull the senses of any maritime enthusiast and singularly un-inspire  the layman. A complete waste of money in our ‘umble opinion guvnor.



An ex MCA ‘fast cat’ and proposed for use on the Thanet Windfarm Project. The smallest boat allatsea has ever ‘audited’. It wasn’t used. Far too small to be of use to man or beast on anything other than the smoothest of inshore waters.


Ballast panel 541

The ballast control panel on a large launch barge. Can’t remember which one, probably one of HMC’s.



Another ballast control panel on a launch barge. After 10 years of looking at these things the memory starts to merge, sadly. Probably another of HMC’s but possibly one of the big Saipem units.


Pipe-laying on Apache 2.


Where you bolt  a blade to a wind turbine nacelle.


Looking along the insides of a turbine blade, in this case for a 3.0MW Vestas unit.


Racks of WTG blades on a self elevating installation vessel.Fully loaded the vessel had 27 blades, 9 nacelles and 9 WTG towers. In good weather and if the ship’s engineers weren’t being girly precious about their jacking routines, 9 WTGs could be installed in 5-6 days. It rarely happened of course. Lessons learned? Insist that the SEIV has more than one person capable of operating the jack up equipment. Most of them do of course, some, who should know better, don’t.


Rows of Nacelles at Dunkirk, bound for Blighty windfarms.


Lay barge UR101, Pegwell Bay, Kent, export cable pull in. The cable installation company ‘Subocean’, went bankrupt shortly after this picture was taken. I think they were absorbed into Technip. Their nick-name was ‘Pubocean’. Truth be told, we never met anyone from ‘Subocean’ who impressed. They were all nice and charming  though, so can be forgiven anything and everything.

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Westbrook at the dead of night.

Ssshhhh! All is quiet. No traffic on the road, just two ships anchored in the Roads, telly on mute, the gentle hum from the pooter cooling fan the only discernible sound. Very calming, very nice.

Apart from a short visit to mummy allatsea to check on the old girl, the day has involved nowt but stagnation and sloth.  True the keyboard took a bit of a hammering at times but as physical movement and industry was concerned, bugger all. That said there was a half hearted attempt at one point to set the world of culinary experiment on fire by making up a bowl of hummus using half chick peas and half  pearl barley. It was very yum but unlikely to get tongues wagging in any sense of the word. Still, a marked improvement on recent attempts using the more traditional approach. Imho of course. No imminent call to appear on ‘Saturday Kitchen’ expected. The only reason us at the towers would like to get such an invite would be  so that the chance of bumping into Greg Wallace (him off the telly) would improve a tadge and then we could tell him, face to ugly face, just what a blagging fraud he is. Ahh, deep joy at that thought. Come to think of it though, he probably gets told that quite a lot, millions of times a day, most likely.

Off to France next week. Good Friday will be spent in or around Nantes. CMID’ing a freighter.  There’s very little in the maritime world that is more dull than vessel audits, but that said  it will be done with good grace and enthusiasm. Clients pay a fair old wodge for such services so only fair to give them what they pay for. Board with a smile, a hefty dose of cynicism, a 50 page checklist and all will be well. I note that said vessel is Russian managed, so fingers crossed all the documentation is in the  language of the good and the great and not in Cyrillic or similar. The thought of travelling in the Catholic nation that is Belle France may prove to be  a bit of challenge over the Easter holidays but time will tell on that. Time to dust off the Tom Tom and venture forth by jamjar probably the best bet. Relying on trains and taxis  not a good idea this time.

The picture below has absolutely nothing to do with the previous three paragraphs. It was taken in a Tabernacle Street tavern (just of Old Street, London)  and the reason the photo was taken was not to celebrate chip culture or record a momentous pub lunch but rather to support any subsequent litigation. They charged allatsea £5 for that plate of anaemic garbage (around 25p a chip) and ‘me and the boys’ were not happy. That said, after  four pints of Amstel, allatsea really didn’t care any more.


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The Seven Seas of Fannit

I’ve sailed the seven seas and though you’d never think it,

The rum’s too strong for me, but I like the men that drink it.


A fine view at Margate beach, composed to show the seafront at its best some years ago.

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Recycling for grown chaps.

Cargo Ships on Beaches…Really?


shipbreaking ship recycling scrapping

Shipbreaking at Alang. Photo: IMO

A perspective on ship recycling and how to end beaching

Like most other things, ships don’t last forever. After 25-30 years they are no longer commercially usable and therefore taken out of service to be dismantled. The materials are recycled to a lesser or greater extent – since a large cargo vessel may consist of 20-40,000 tons of steel, they clearly have a market value as steel scrap.

The vast majority of ships are taken to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh to be scrapped on the beach. There is something quite wrong with that.  People in flip flops on beaches are OK. But people on beaches wearing flip flops and no safety gear while taking apart massive cargo ships with hand tools is simply wrong.

Unsurprisingly, ship breaking is one of the most dangerous industries. According to the EU Commission, it is six times more likely to die at work in the Indian shipbreaking industry than in the Indian mining industry, and according to a recent report from Sustainalyitics, 1,000 people died in the Bangladesh ship breaking industry over a 10 year period.

NGOs argue that beaching must end now. We agree. In Maersk Line we have a policy on responsible ship recycling. Since 2006, we have recycled 23 ships responsibly, and we have sent none to the beach.

Most of our ships, however, are sold off well before they get too old to operate as it is important to us to have a modern and energy efficient fleet. And from time to time we are criticized by NGOs that the scope of our policy is too narrow because it only covers our own ships and not chartered vessels – and because we don’t sell ships with a clause that they should be recycled responsibly.

I doubt that such a clause would really serve as any guarantee for responsible ship recycling but that is actually besides the point I am trying to make here. We don’t like to see ships that have served us being sent to the beach, but we also think it is important to draw a line in the sand.

While it is important to us to take good care of our old ships, we don’t think it is the way forward for us to sponsor that other companies take good care of their old ships as well. And we really don’t think that the issue of unsafe and unsustainable beaching is well addressed by private companies alone.

The real answer to the problem is global regulation that raises the legally acceptable minimum standard for ship recycling. In 2009, the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was adopted. Yet in 2013, only two countries have ratified it.

The Hong Kong Convention is not perfect – actually it doesn’t ban beaching, it just makes it a lot harder to scrap ships this way. But it is the best we have, and if it entered into force, it could be improved over time.

So we need more countries to ratify the convention. Actually, it’s fair to ask what’s holding them back. Did governments change their opinion since 2009 when they adopted the Hong Kong Convention and now think that beaching is not an issue, or is it simply lack of priority?

If the health and safety statistics of the ship breaking industry is not enough of an argument for the Hong Kong Convention, here is another argument: Over the coming decades, steel will get scarcer and therefore more expensive, which means we  need to become better at steel recycling.

When ships are scrapped on beaches, I will argue that it is less likely that the materials are recycled to their full potential. Taking ships to proper recycling yards like the ones in China will enable a far better recycling of the steel for use in building new ships and other constructions.

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Posh new business card.

The dog’s gonads it may not be, hee hee hee, but it may up the traffic count to the other site (mmouk) and who knows, that elusive offer of £5000 a day just for turning up and looking re-assuring might just, just, arrive?


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