Boaters' Newsletter - April 2011

weir_700_x80Daylight hours are becoming longer and it is getting warmer, soon the mooring sites will see more activity as boaters return, so it is time for a Spring Newsletter.

Work completed.  Improvements have continued over the winter period including our Lock Landings project, which has involved improving the landing stages at several locks along the Navigation.  Barnes Mill Lock has received a new timber upstream landing stage and work is currently underway to install new piling to the lower landing areas. Sandford Lock has seen the upstream landing area re-piled. Little Baddow Lock has also had a new timber upstream landing stage installed. Ricketts Lock has a new timber upstream landing stage and new piling has extended the lower landing area. Rushes Lock is next in line for new landing area piling. This project will be partly funded by the Essex County Council Community Initiatives Fund.

The rebuilt Hall Bridge at Heybridge was officially opened by the chairman of Essex County Council at the beginning of March. This followed a week long Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camp last autumn when volunteers constructed the three footpath connections to the adjoining network. Funding assistance for the connections is being made by Essex County Council, which has also carried out footpath/bridleway surfacing at Heybridge Basin including alongside the towpath moorings.     

Weekend Waterway Recovery Group work parties in the autumn continued bank repairs at the Heybridge moorings where the electrical hook-ups are now fully commissioned and landing stage replacements underway.

A weekend visit by London Waterway Recovery Group in January, and a further Waterway Recovery Group week Canal Camp in February, saw towpath surfacing at the Paper Mill moorings and drainage and surfacing work in the boaters' car park undertaken.  

Proposed work.  Our programme to replace poor landing stages at the mooring sites will continue.  Visitors landing stages will be made available immediately adjoining the Basin Pleasure Boats jetty at Heybridge Basin for inland craft travelling down to the Basin.

Our major project for 2011 is piling work to the north quay at Heybridge Basin which is currently in poor condition.  Funding assistance has already been offered by Essex County Council and Essex & Suffolk Water, and the necessary consents are being sought.

We also hope to implement several schemes to improve facilities on the Navigation as soon as the necessary permissions have been received; however no major closures to navigation are currently planned, although short week time closures may be necessary to facilitate lock repairs if required urgently.

Staff changes. Peter Warr has been appointed as resident caretaker at Sandford and has moved his boat Barolo to the upstream moorings adjoining Bundocks Bridge. He joins Lynsey who is positioned on the lower moorings.

Volunteers. We are still very dependant upon the assistance provided by our regular weekday volunteers who generally work two days per week undertaking all manner of maintenance and repairs. Work will shortly commence on the regular towpath grass cutting and new volunteers are always welcome.  If you can spare a day or more to help in the open air in pleasant surroundings, please contact Colin Edmond.

Security. Whilst this has generally improved with the presence of our residential caretakers, we are aware that most marinas and moorings in the area have been subject to boat break-ins and theft. May we remind you therefore not to leave valuables on boats and to keep outboards well secured. Essex Police Marine Watch has outboard covers available to help conceal motors from obvious view, if you wish to purchase these, Hugh has the details.

At our last Users Meeting the matter of dirty boats was raised by some of our boaters. It was felt that a few boats suffered from a lack of attention and as well as being an eyesore, these created an appearance of neglect which was detrimental to other users and to the moorings. We therefore ask all our boaters to keep their vessels clean and tidy.

Pollution. There have been a couple of incidents recently involving oil spillage on the Navigation. A small amount of oil on the water will make a great visual impact. Will all users therefore please take extra care to avoid oil or fuel spillage when refuelling or pumping of bilges. The Environment Agency has been involved in recent incidents and this can result in considerable clean-up charges and the threat of legal action and fines. Spill kits are available at the mooring sites, in case of need please contact the caretakers or if unavailable, Colin.  

Wildlife. EWL is working with Essex Wildlife Trust to monitor wildlife on the Navigation, in particular to establish the location of mink, otters and water vole. You may therefore see small plywood rafts tethered to the Navigation banks which are part of the survey work being undertaken with the participation of the residential caretakers. Please do not disturb these rafts.

IWA. You will find with this mailing an invitation letter from the Inland Waterways Association for a year’s free membership of  IWA. Essex Waterways Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Inland Waterways Association which was founded in 1946.It has an impressive track record in promoting waterway restoration throughout the country. IWA is actively involved with the current proposals to move the national waterway system to the Third Sector and it is therefore a particularly relevant time to add your support to IWA and be fully aware of what is happening. We therefore wish to encourage you to take up this offer.

IWA Chelmsford Branch holds regular meetings at Moulsham Mill, Parkway, Chelmsford. 
(next to the Tesco Homestore at the Army & Navy roundabout) and timed at 7.45pm for an 8.00pm start.  You are all welcome as members or just as a visitor. Next meetings are:

14th April 2011.  The North Walsham and Dilham Canal

12th May 2011.  Holiday of a Lifetime

12th June 2011.  Branch Walk, Chelmsford to Paper Mill  

Footnotes.

Navigation Manager Colin Edmond will shortly be running in the Prague Marathon.

Meanwhile Burnham on Crouch is expecting a new Atlantic 85 lifeboat this Spring, and needs a floating lifeboat house in which to keep it. This is costing £130k and already over £100k has been raised by local fundraisers. Hugh, our Moorings and Fisheries Manager, is aiming to add £2,000 towards the balance by undertaking the Essex Islands Challenge - paddling his kayak to all 35 islands off the coast of Essex which involves a gruelling 60 miles of solo navigation, working with the vagaries of tides and weather. The Challenge must be completed between March and May. You can find details of the Challenge, and check on Hugh’s progress on; www.justgiving.com/Hugh-Turner or pop in and see Hugh in his Paper Mill office any Tuesday or Thursday where he will gratefully receive any support you can give.   

Contacts:

Navigation Manager: Colin Edmond Tel: 07966 375351

Moorings and Fisheries Manager: Hugh Turner Tel: 07910 558465 (office hours)

Heybridge Lockkeeper: Martin Maudsley Tel: 07712 079764. VHF Channel 80 ‘Heybridge Lock’