She’s back on an even keel

Some loving TLC as we restore a little wheel power to beloved Terra Nova

FOR the first time in many months, my brother and I went down to the boatyard on Saturday to try to sort out the broken wheel on Terra Nova’s trailer.

If you remember, the front left-hand wheel had come adrift during the process of hauling the old girl out of the water at the end of the 2013 season – but because of the floods and the fact that Julie and I had spent a lot of time house-hunting and selling our own house, this was the first chance that we’d had to try to tackle the problem.

Before we got down to the job at hand, we spent some time with Bridge Marine owner Jenny Beagle who showed us the dreadful damage that the floodwaters had done to her yard.

The whole of the chandlery building has noticeably sunk on its right-hand side where the torrent rushing through the yard has undermined the foundations. And in the workshop, a three-foot high tideline can still be seen from the flood.

The power of the water even cracked some of the brickwork on the corner of the building and the loss of tools and powered equipment has been devastating.

I asked how the insurance claim was going and Jenny (who is bearing the whole devastating business with remarkable fortitude) said that they were basically waiting for surveyors to determine the best way of putting things right.

Having seen the effects of the flooding, I can’t help feeling that the only sensible thing to do is to tear the chandlery down and rebuild it – but I’m not a surveyor.

It did underline, however, the feeling that the consequences of the flooding will be felt for many months – if not years – to come.

Anyway, back to the wheel.

We managed to get the new bearings into the hub without too much trouble and the hub back onto the stub axle – but then came the biggest challenge when we had to jack up the trailer (complete with four tons of boat on top of it) high enough to get the wheel back on.

Damn, that is heavy old boat! Anyway after much effort, creaking and groaning (mainly from me and Bruv) we finally got it back in place and Terra Nova is now back on an even keel.

We’re now going to give her a good clean and then she’ll go up for sale – and, for us, it will be a sad, sad day when she finally acquires a new owner. But to quote George Harrison, all things must pass!

Still on the subject of the aftermath of the floods, the Thames21 charity is starting up its annual campaign of voluntary clean-up works along our stretch of the river – and all help will be gratefully received.

This Sunday (April 13) they are concentrating on Desborough Island, Walton where, between 10am and 1pm they will be organising a litter pick and removal of flood debris and the clearance of fallen trees. If you’d like to lend a hand, meet at the bridge from the Walton Lane bank to the island at 10am. The advice from Thames21 volunteer project manager Luke Damerum is to wear long-sleeved tops and full-length trousers .

On Sunday, April 27, they will be visiting Sunbury Lock Ait for a similar clean-up. Again, if you’d like to lend a hand, you should meet at the bridge from the Surrey bank onto the island at 10am and the work will go on until 1pm.

These clean ups are an essential part of the ongoing maintenance of the Thames and the more people who turn up to take part the more effective they are.

I went to a fascinating meeting of the River Users Group 8 at Molesey on Thursday and next week I’ll be outlining the plans for the River Thames Scheme to combat future flooding as explained by David Murphy from the Environment Agency.

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