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Our work: winter maintenance at Dapdune Wharf

Tractor pulling Dapdune Belle up slipway
Dapdune Belle | © National Trust/Derek Croucher

Every year Dapdune Wharf trip boats undergo winter maintenance. We have three ageing trip boats, the key to keeping them going throughout the season is to ensure they are well looked after over the winter. We don’t offer boat trips during the winter - the river is so unpredictable, during a week of fine weather, the river may be in flood because of the amount of rain that fell the week before. Find out what happens to the boats over the winter.

Getting the boats out of the water

This has to be a well-judged process. We liaise with Guildford Borough Council to pick a day when their tractor driver available. The weather needs to be reasonable. We need to have available volunteer skippers and the river mustn’t be in flood. Not so easy to get all these factors in order.

We would usually start with Dapdune Belle, the boat that does the lion’s share of trips during the season. Belle was donated by Panasonic Batteries over 20 years ago. She’s a beautiful boat and carries 12 passengers.

The other boats in our fleet are smaller and can be pulled up the slipway by a property vehicle.

What happens next?

Our willing volunteer skippers arrive in old clothes, are given masks and gloves and pressure washers and crack on with scrubbing, scraping and sanding a year’s worth of slime, mud and flaking paint off the bottom of the boats. Holes are filled and primer is applied where applicable. Anti-foul painting follows and the plimsoll line is repainted. The hull is waxed and polished and the decks are re-varnished. Finally the boats are put back in the river for another year of delighting our visitors.

Volunteer skipper lying down, scrubbing the bottom of Dapdune Belle
Mike, volunteer skipper, cleaning Dapdune Belle | © National Trust/Sarah Crawcour

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.