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Case Study – Kingswear Ferry

FromfwdLocal Riverboat and ferry company required a replacement vessel for hard working service between Dartmouth and Kingswear.

A potential candidate was found lying abandoned on the banks of Derwentwater, having been retired from service originally as an ex Thames Ferry, and then as a Lakes Ferry. She turned out however to be too deep draft for the fickle waters of the lake, hence needed to go.

Vessel was surveyed ashore, whilst hauled up ashore in amongst the low lying trees on the foreshore.

Structurally, she proved in satisfactory order; the purchasers were planning major renovations and refurbishment anyway, but the requirement was that she had to be fundamentally sound. Careful measurements were also required, because if subsequently purchased, she would have to undertake a particularly convoluted and tortuous route to enable her to float again in Dartmouth.

Stern Section survey

aft end No 1 space stbd

Assessment of the steel plating was carried out in lashing gales in February-at one point 70mph gusts winds were raking the top decks, making for ultrasonic readings being taken lying down, for safety.

Safety and relative peace was found secure in the void spaces within the hulls. These revealed no major plate wastage other than in typical areas where water had lain stale and unseen for periods.

Engines were due to be stripped out and either rebuilt or replaced upon purchase, together with sterngear.

Subsequently purchased, she had to be prepared for not only a relatively short road transport hop to the coast, but then towed dead-ship all around the coast across the Irish Sea, to Dartmouth.

Derwentwater Ferry Survey

A contract was agreed with a heavy lift road transport company in Bristol to collect the vessel from the beach at Derwentwater and carry her on a low loader to the docks at Workington. This involved close liaison with the Highways Agency and Traffic Police for a detailed route survey including bridge heights, bridge strengths, road strengths, road widths, over-road wire clearances, overhanging tree branch trimming, road furniture removal and reinstatement – and a full-on police escort with road traffic diversions in place.

A contract was let with a heavy lift crane company to lift the vessel from the beach at Derwentwater and place her on the low loader.  This involved the placing of a series of load spreading pads to stop the hydraulic legs on the crane from sinking into the beach.

The same crane was used at Workington to lift the vessel into the dock basin there.  Local Harbour Authority tugs were used to berth her alongside when she was afloat.

The following work was carried out on board before the vessel went any further:

  • All windows and doors were blanked off with plywood
  • Shafts were locked
  • All hull valves were blanked
  • Rudders were locked amidships
  • Salvage pump with wandering suction hose placed aboard
  • Battery operated navigation lights placed aboard
  • All hull voids were sealed
  • A heavy duty deck clench was welded onto the steel foredeck to take the towing hawser

MCA Liverpool then carried out a pre-towage survey and then issued the Load Line Exemption (Fit for Tow) certificate

A BIMCO TOWCON was then let with a towing company from Poole to collect the vessel from Workington and bring her to Dartmouth.  As the tow moved to the southern end of the Irish Sea, the weather deteriorated and it was necessary to invoke two days of the Demurrage clause of the TOWCON.  On arrival in Dartmouth the vessel was connected to the mid stream buoys to await a slot at Dartside Boatyard in Galmpton for her liftout.

Ferry Boat Survey

Ferry Engine Space

A full refit then followed where the entire hull was shot blasted to bare metal, detailed ultra-sonics carried out, a few steel repairs carried out and then recoated with several layers of paint.  The engines (Ford Holland 90 HP) were removed and rebuilt ashore by Darthaven Engineering.  New fuel tanks were manufactured, most wiring was replaced, the cabin was stripped out and re-lined, a hydraulic steering system was installed to replace the old wire steering, new navionics were fitted, the engine rooms were subdivided with new bulkheads to meet MCA stability (down flooding) regulations which now applied to the vessel. (She was classified as a new build because she had been out of ticket at Derwentwater for just over the 5 year limit).  A new FM200 automatic fire fighting drench system was installed and new life raft launching mechanisms were fabricated where ORL 65 man life rafts could be launched with a 15 degree list. A new wheelhouse was fabricated and fitted, together with deckhouse modifications on the forward screen.  The fire & Bilge system was completely overhauled with several modifications applied. Engine room ventilation was extensively modified to meet new anti down-flooding regulations and newexhaust systems were added..

An inclining experiment was then carried out by the MCA followed by a sea trial and the issuing of a passenger certificate to operate under a Class V ticket in Category C waters (not to sea)

The entire exercise was not cheap, but compared very favourably in cost terms with a new build vessel from any UK shipyard

Kingswear Ferry restored