The Naiad Errant is famous for the well-documented part she played in Operation Dynamo, when hundreds of French and British troops were evacuated from the beaches around Dunkirk in May 1940. Built in 1939 at William Osborne’s yard in Littlehampton, she was requisitioned from Tough’s yard at Teddington and motored to Ramsgate, from where a naval crew led by Able Seamen Palmer took the 63-mile route through the heavily mined, enemy-patrolled waters to the beaches of Dunkirk. Despite being swamped, grounded on the beach and re-floated, Naiad managed to get the rescued troops safely back to Ramsgate, where her engines were repaired, ready for a second trip - and Palmer was awarded the DSM for his bravery.
Naiad Errant was discovered lying in Southampton in 1980 by Dunkirk Little ship enthusiast Sandy Evans (pictured) who renovated her and installed two secondhand 49hp Perkins 4.107 diesel engines with Aquadrive couplings. And today, while the accident damage is being repaired in dry dock, it has been discovered that the only engine repair after a full 32 years of operation is a single thrust bearing replacement.
Sandy is plainly delighted at the prospect of going back to Halyard, the original installers of the engine, to get the job done: “It is lovely to see that Halyard is not only still in existence but has grown so much. It was even better to make contact with James Grazebrook, who remembered me and the boat, and could supply the replacement parts we needed to get Naiad back to full working order.”
Work is now well underway and this precious boat (complete with Sandy on board) is expected to be back on the water before Easter 2013 in preparation for the annual veteran commemorative cruises.