Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Tidal Work Patterns

When I was working in Blackpool with Mole the other week, we saw this.  From our hotel it looked like it was small and close, and surrounded by water when the tide was in.  We set of walking along the beach towards it once the tide was out, and it turned out that it was big and far away.

It is the Riverdance Ferry, which was overturned by a freak wave back in February. There are more (and better) photographs of it here.  We were intercepted as we drew near, as there is a security exclusion zone around the boat due to the dangerous nature of the dismantling process.  The security guy who drove up was very good natured about it, and we had a good chat with him, moving on from talk about the boat to being from Blackpool (as he and Mole are), what it was like groing up there and what it is like now, which given that we were there on a Class of '76 inspired research trip was entirely appropriate.  Only afterwards did it strike me that there was something else to do with the dismantling process that I should have asked about...

When the tide comes in, they must have to stop working.  If so, then their shift patterns are dictated by the tides.  Which would mean that the people working on the boat are effectively working a lunar day.  This is something I've been fascinated by since we made Hurrysickness in 2004.  One of our collaborators, Dr Peter Totterdell, suggested living a lunar day, as opposed to a solar day, as a way of having almost an extra hour a day.  We loved this idea, and it became the concluding advice of the show.  

And although we talked about it when making Hurrysickness, thinking about the Riverdance being dismantled in low-tide shifts really brought home to me that people who work in relationship to the sea, for example, already do this.  If only I'd thought of this whilst we were talking on the beach, I could have asked him about how it works for the shipbreakers.  Next time.