MV Swan on Lake Windermere heading north to Ambleside

Windermere’s historic “steamers” prepare for MOT safety tests

Published: 28th January 2022
Categories: Media Release

Three of Windermere Lake Cruises most historic vessels are preparing for the maritime equivalent of the MOT test to ensure they remain in top shape to carry passengers.

MV Swan, Teal and Tern, known locally as the steamers, will be put through “in water” trials by a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) ship surveyor during February and March after several months of refurbishing and overhaul.

The trials are part of the extensive winter maintenance programme carried out by Windermere Lake Cruises every year to keep its fleet and services in pristine condition for passengers.

MV Tern at Ambleside (Waterhead) Pier last summer

The “In Water Survey” will test each vessel by:

  • Carrying out several figure of eight movements to check manoeuvrability and steering capability.
  • Performing “emergency stop” procedures - full astern is selected when the vessel is at cruising speed to test how quickly she can be brought to a standstill.
  • Firefighting and safety equipment is tested with crews carrying out emergency exercises, including man overboard.

Skipper Rob Beale in the wheelhouse of MV Swift

When the survey is successfully completed the vessel is issued with a “Passenger Certificate”, similar to a motor car being issued with a MOT.

It’s all part of the intensive annual winter maintenance programme carried out by Windermere Lake Cruises which keeps its fleet and services in perfect condition for the thousands of passengers who cruise England’s longest lake every year.

  • MV Teal is having new carpets throughout the main observation cabin
  • MV Swan is having her interior seating fully upholstered.
  • MV Tern, the oldest of the fleet, is having her steering indicator control system overhauled and renewed.

During March, when the weather is usually dryer and milder, the vessels will be fully painted and the woodwork varnished ready for the summer season.

There’s also a huge programme of maintenance on the company’s other vessels and services.

Pier 2 at Bowness is being replaced and upgraded while other piers are being cleaned and undergoing minor repairs. Shore premises are being deep cleaned and repainted.

Some self-drive boats are off the water to have electric motors serviced. Passenger life jackets are undergoing routine servicing. Four wooden launches are off the water and being checked over by the maintenance team. Finally, Miss Lakeland has received a full paint job, along with some mechanical maintenance and Miss Cumbria 4 is being upgraded and modernised.

Bowness Pier 2 in a state or re-construction

Windermere Lake Cruises’ Operations Director John Woodburn, says, “The winter maintenance period is a key time for us and the team is very busy making sure the fleet is ready for the busy spring and summer months.

“While some attractions close down during quieter periods we are open all year long. But while we keep services running through winter it’s also a time when we can carry out essential maintenance. This work is an important part of our commitment to preserving some of the country’s most historic vessels for future generations.”

Maintenance staff working on MV Teal in winter 2019

VIDEO: Winter maintenance and skipper training

ITV News joined us in February 2022 to find out more about our winter maintenance and new skipper training. Watch the full report below.

*Thanks to ITV News / ITV Border for the footage

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