Dawncraft 25 From Osney Marina
The Boatbreakers team had a trip to Oxford last week. This time it was to collect an end of life Dawncraft 25 river cruiser. We had received a call from the owner a few weeks before. He had decided that the time was right to dispose of his boat.
All we knew about it was that it was just south of Oxford at a place called Donnington. The owner did also tell us that the engine was new which is always a bonus. Because of that we gave him a £500 discount on the price he paid us to carry out the disposal.
Our plan was to drive to the boat with a trailer. Next check her over and then take the trailer to a nearby slipway ready for us to deliver the boat and load her on. The nearest slipway was about a mile upstream and was owned by Osney Marina. We made contact with the marina manager. He informed us that at the time the river levels were too high to safely be able to move the boat.
We were in no great rush to collect so we decided to sit back and wait for the levels to drop. The sheer amount of rain had caused the river levels to swell and the marina manager told us that it may take a number of weeks for them to drop enough.
After speaking to the owner he understood that we were simply in the hands of the river levels before we could proceed.
Two weeks later and still the river levels were too high. We spoke to the marina and said that we’d give it another week before checking back. At which point we hoped it would have dropped enough to make the move less risky.
The very next morning we received a surprising email. Instead of waiting for us the owner had taken the boat up the river himself and left the boat tied up on the marina’s slipway. Usually this can spell trouble as blocking a marinas slipway could get in the way of other boat movements. Also there could have been a delay in us being able to get there to collect which again could be an annoyance for the marina.
Luckily as it was mid December our schedule is much more flexible. We always find that people are reluctant to scrap their boats in the build up to the festive season. The email came in on the Friday morning and we made the arrangements to collect on the following Tuesday.
Understanding Marina Staff
Thankfully the marina also had a quiet period. So the boat being abandoned on the slipway didn’t have too much of an impact. The manager was also very understanding and was pleased we could get there so soon to collect. It did make the job easier for us as we just had to turn up at the marina and load her. Rather than motoring the boat up the river ourselves.
When we arrived in Oxford it became clear that the access to the marina was limited and once we were in it would be a challenge, if not impossible to turn around. So we decided that reversing into and through the marina to the slipway was the best plan.
It was good to finally see the boat as we really didn’t have a clue what she would look like. Usually we would get sent pictures of the boats we deal with before we collect, however this time was different.
Our first impressions were that the boat looked fairly run down. It had definitely seen better days. There were some surprises on board as the Mercury engine and steering gear looked brand new. In addition there were two new anchors and various other items on board that could be salvaged.
We had booked a large roller trailer for the job but at the last minute it was unavailable for us to use. So we had to make do with our large trailer instead. With the river levels being so high it did help as we were able to dip the trailer in right under the boat. It’s always a benefit if you can float the boat onto the trailer the majority of the way.
Steve prepped the trailer and adjusted the various movable parts. Luke was tasked with removing the cover and anything else that could come off during transit back to Portsmouth.
This is usually simple things like fenders, rope, anchors or loose items. Once the majority of the items were off and inside the boat both of the team worked together to line up the boat on the trailer.
As Steve hooked the winch onto the front of the boat and began pull the boat up onto the trailer Luke kept the stern of the boat in line. If you don’t pay attention to this while loading it can mean the boat is unsafe. It’s always much easier to make these adjustment whilst the boat is still floating.
When the boat was the majority of the way up onto the trailer we then pulled her up the slipway and up to the level ground. This meant that whilst we strapped the boat it was stable and safe.
After half an hour the boat was safe secure and not likely to drop any items from the deck during the journey. The weather had been iffy on the way up but we had managed to stay dry. As soon as we were back on the A34 heading south the heavens opened again.
The journey back went smoothly as expected and the boat was delivered back to our yard in Portsmouth for disposal.