A Jolly (Long) Update

Monsieur Le Cool went for his pre-travel treatment for a DEFRA certificate today. Our cat earned himself this name on his visit to the vet last week. We were a bit concerned that he has started spraying in the kitchen and salon-séjour behind our backs…….. and his!! As the nice lady vet took his temperature in the usual way, Rooney started purring. “Ah, Monsieur Le Cool”, she said.

We were questioned closely to see if we could arrive at the reason for the aberrant behaviour. Were there new cats in the neighbourhood? Well yes, but rugged, scruffy French cats have been patrolling our garden since we arrived three years ago. Was there anything else that had changed in Rooney’s life? Well yes, we had started shutting him downstairs at night, giving him the run of the kitchen and salon-séjour only. (We were fed up with being walked all over and plucked at, at 4.30 a.m. as we slept, because Monsieur Le Gros Chat thought it was time for breakfast.) A look of triumph lit her features. Here was the answer: our cat was ‘perturbé’ because he is ‘sensible’ (sensitive in French) and needed reassurance. If our bedroom door was re-opened the problem would surely go away. If not, she was willing to consider homéopathie, or anti-depresseurs…………

Look below and you will see a cat who knows he has got his own way but fortunately has also decided to modify his behaviour accordingly.

Liz is on her way home.  Nick and I have a list of tasks to work our way through.  He is painting the floor of the workshop, I have some curtain lining to cut.  Tomorrow I want to put time into the garden.  We are going to eat some reheated fish pie and steamed cauliflower and turnip.   Then there is a cheese platter which has been neglected for a couple of days………..

When we drove up to the north coast yesterday we could see the Jolly moored alongside the quay at Barfleur.  She appears not to have moved.  We have now found out a bit more about the vessel.

At the beginning of December 2008 a For Sale notice appeared on the internet advertising a fast, safe multipurpose-built vessel for use in salvage, icebreaking or firefighting.

“She has a beautifully designed hull for sailing and that’s why I originally bought her. She sails exceptionally well. I was planning to take her to India but I am now getting too old, 64 years old. However I could deliver the boat for you. The total weight of the ship is 270 tons unloaded so if you scrapped the ship yourself you would get about double the price that I’m offering it. Jolly is a good investment in steel alone. It had a 17 man crew, so the accommodation is particularly large with five cabins down below and the captain’s, galley, mess room, and bathroom at deck level.”

When, 3 weeks after this ad appeared the Coastguard called out the Ramsgate Lifeboat to the assistance of an ex-tug called Jolly, the RNLI skipper, Coxswain Cannon, must have had a sense of deja vu.  Jolly was adrift and without power and in view of the wind and current directions the decision was taken to tow her to Dover. However Dover refused to allow Jolly into the port and the course was altered to Ramsgate.

Jolly’s skipper then advised Coxswain Cannon that he did not wish to enter any port and would rather be given an anchorage. Whilst Coxswain Cannon tried to persuade the skipper that an anchorage off Ramsgate would be unsafe, Dover authorities intervened and insisted the Jolly be towed into the port. She was duly towed into Ramsgate and moored.

Eight years earlier Coxswain Cannon had had another brush with Jolly. The Ramsgate Lifeboat put to sea to her assistance where she had broken down off Deal. A tow line was secured to Jolly and she was towed towards Dover.  As they approached Dover Harbour Coxswain Cannon requested that the Dover lifeboat be called out to take over the tow.  She put to sea, meeting up with the Ramsgate Lifeboat and Jolly 3 miles east of Dover. The 2 Coxes agreed that the Ramsgate Lifeboat would continue the tow, with the Dover Lifeboat leading them into the harbour.

All went well until less than a mile from the harbour entrance where the 2 lifeboats were requested to give way to a ferry about to leave the harbour. The Ramsgate Lifeboat had to make a 360 º turn to get clear then bring Jolly back on course to get into the harbour.   But in that turn the Jolly’s mast broke and fell over the side, remaining attached at the base and dragging in the water.   All 3 boats entered the harbour safely and once inside, the Ramsgate Lifeboat shortened up the tow-line while the Dover Lifeboat got a line onto the stern of the stricken Jolly to help her berth

As they approached the allocated berth the wind caught Jolly and blew her southwards towards a jetty.  Coxswain Cannon had to keep as far to the north as he could to keep the Jolly clear.  In doing so the Ramsgate Lifeboat got very close to a harbour wall and the towline had to be cut, the lifeboat striking the wall and receiving some damage. The Dover Lifeboat was put into reverse and Jolly was pulled clear.

As the Dover Lifeboat Coxswain took his vessel forward again to try and push Jolly into the berth, the vessel’s mast, still hanging over the side dug into the seabed, causing the vessel to swing round sharply to port, striking the Dover Lifeboat and causing damage to her starboard. The towline was immediately cut and the lifeboat went full astern to pull clear.  Fortunately the Jolly’s mast, which was stuck fast in the sea bed, acted as a pivot and the gale then blew the vessel round and alongside the berth, where she was quickly secured by the shore helpers from the Dover Lifeboat Station.

‘Letters of Thanks’ were sent to Coxswain Ron Cannon, of Ramsgate and to Coxswain David Pascall, of Dover, for their excellent seamanship, working in very poor conditions, in a confined area, both men exhibiting great leadership, the crews of both lifeboats working extremely well together, during this excellent service.


A final word on Monsieur Le Cool. We have had the last laugh. If we leave the vacuum cleaner standing in our bedroom he won’t go near it.


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Bottom of Form



4 thoughts on “A Jolly (Long) Update

  1. Very funny cat story. I also use the vacuum cleaner as a deterrent. So where did you find all this information about Jolly’s past?

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