No paddle, no steamer: Pev is beached for months

By Tyla Harrington

THE pride of Campaspe Shire Council’s paddlesteamer fleet, the PS Pevensey, is not taking passengers.

And it could be out of action until the peak tourism season begins in December.

But how much it will cost to get the signature vessel travelling up and down the river once again, or an exact date of its return, is not yet known.

The Pev, which can carry 100 passengers and is world-renowned for its role as Philadelphia in the Australian television mini-series All the Rivers Run, was slipped in May.

But council’s economic and community services general manager Keith Oberin said it wasn’t until the final inspection of the three stage process that council realised further works were needed.

‘‘Council is putting plans in place to source additional timber and undertake works as soon as possible to have the Pevensey back on the water carrying passengers by the peak tourism season,’’ Mr Oberin said.

He said some of the water timbers at the rear of the vessel were in poor condition and required replacing.

‘‘All commercial maritime vessels that carry passengers require a current Certificate of Survey (COS). These must be completed on a regular basis,’’ Mr Oberin said. ‘‘Council is the owner of three vessels (the Alexander Arbuthnot and Adelaide — both smaller boats that carry about 50 passengers each). We’re awaiting a review of the inboard survey for the Pevensey. And we’re aware that following the last look there’s additional works required to bring it up to compliance.’’

The Pev was being slipped as part of a scheduled slipping required every two years.

There was a crack in one plank that travelled through 30 per cent of the plank but council said it was repaired to the ‘‘standard required’’. It is the additional planks in the aft of the paddlesteamer that need fixing.

But this, council stressed, only became evident when the Pev was on the slip and given lead times for seasoned wood and the additional time to repair, council said it was not possible to complete the repairs during that slipping.

When it was taken off the slip council said ‘‘small quantities of water’’ entered the vessel.

‘‘As there always is, as the new caulking takes up and expands,’’ Mr Oberin said.

‘‘This can take anything up to three weeks. The vessel is fitted with a bilge pump as most large vessels are — we use these to remove any water in the bilge.’’

The Pev will be slipped again in late September for six weeks — taking the scheduled slipping for the Adelaide instead.

The Pev received an engine overhaul and maintenance in 2017, including caulking and plank replacement, minor painting works, internal frame renewal, slipping and bi-annual roads and maritime inspections, replacement of fairleads and reframing of both paddle boxes.

Council budgeted $274,000 on works for the Pev and the D26 barge with the project under budget.

That was two years after council spent almost $500,000 on the PS Alexander Arbuthnot — this time over budget.

At the time council said it recognised the boat’s hull was in generally poor condition during a slipping in 2011, which resulted in a strategy being developed to restore the whole of the hull over three separate slippings scheduled for 2013, 2015 and 2017.

But when the boat was slipped in November 2013 the contracted shipwright said a staged approach was not feasible and recommended the hull be restored over two slippings, both in 2015.

Council said it was continuing to work with its marine surveyor and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to secure the Certificate of Survey for the Pev.