A little bit of manpower was all it took to settle a vital piece of equipment in place, clearing the way for the paddle steamer Waimarie to be hauled from the Whanganui River for its marine survey.

A temporary slipway has been built on the riverbank in the shadow of the Dublin St Bridge and on Tuesday an Emmetts crane gently lifted the 13-tonne steel cradle off a transporter and delicately placed it in position onto two rail tracks that reach from the shore into the river.

It took a bit a coaxing with a crow bar to get the cradle snugly on the twin tracks.

Efforts to build the slipway have had their problems, first with floodwaters and then the foundations but now all is set to drag the 70-tonne Waimarie from the river.

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Richard Sheppard, project overseer and chair of the PS Waimarie Restoration and Navigation Trust, said getting the cradle with its trolleys in place marked a milestone for the project.

Mr Sheppard said over the next couple of days two traction engines will be at the site pulling the cradle along the rails.

"We have to extend the rails another 6m to make sure the boat's sitting above the high water mark so we can get that job done without any problems," he said.

The "job" involves a five-yearly marine survey of the vessel and repainting its hull. But delays mean the trust has a narrow window to work in before the Waimarie is due to start it new season's sailing next month.

"All being well we'll be pulling the Waimarie from the river on Saturday week (September 17)," Mr Sheppard said.