Hunt on for paddle steamer slipway

By John Maslin

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The search is on to find the best possible site for a temporary slipway to carry out a survey of Whanganui's historic paddle steamer the Waimarie.

The PS Waimarie Riverboat Restoration and Navigation Trust has been busily fundraising to get the $170,000 needed for the five-yearly survey that involves hauling the vessel out of the Whanganui River.

This week Perry Geo Tech from Tauranga carried out ground testing along a 300-metre stretch of the riverbank next to Kowhai Park, just downstream from the Dublin Street Bridge, looking for a solid foundation for a temporary slip for the boat.

Richard Sheppard, chairman of the trust, said the survey was required by New Zealand maritime law and means a thorough inspection and repaint of the hull. It should have happened last year but was disrupted by the June floods.

He said when they find the right site a temporary slip will be laid down using railway irons with the boat then hauled out of the river.

"We hope to be ready to go in the first week of August. The slipway will only be there for about three weeks so we didn't need a resource consent from Horizons Regional Council because there's no permanent structure of fixtures involved.

"We are working very closely with Horizons, Whanganui District Council and local iwi on this project. Once the work's done our attention will focus on removing any trace of the temporary slip."

This method of slipping the paddle steamer is the same that riverboat operator Alexander Hatrick used back in the early 1900s.

Mr Sheppard said they looked at putting the slip further downstream where the old Hatrick wharf used to be, near the intersection of Anzac Parade and Georgetti Rd, but the costs were prohibitive because a more permanent structure would be needed.

The Waimarie has been surveyed at Q-West boatyard before but Mr Sheppard said that option was dropped because it involved dredging the area in front of that slipway and the yard had a lot of work on.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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