Boaters' Newsletter - July 2011

julie_near_barnes_lock

Mid summer approaches and we have already been enjoying unusually warm and dry weather and the Navigation has been busy and so it is time for a Summer Newsletter.

Work completed. Our Lock Landings project is continuing with the newly piled landing stages below Barnes Lock now complete. We will shortly be commencing piling work at Rushes Lock where the landing stages above and below the lock are to be renewed. Please proceed with caution if approaching whilst the work is taking place.

A recent weekend work party with London Waterway Recovery Group volunteers helped to rescue the new hedgerows at the Sandford moorings. These were weeded and mulched and are growing well in spite of the lack of rain.

The renewal of mooring jetties continues with current replacement being concentrated at Heybridge Basin. Please can we remind you that no alterations, attachments or painting are allowed to mooring jetties.

Proposed work. Our major project for 2011 is planned to be piling work to the north quay at Heybridge Basin, where site investigation work has already been undertaken. The work is currently programmed for October, subject to all the necessary consents. It will be necessary to move some moored vessels for the duration of the work and this will result in a temporary shortage of moorings in the basin. Funding assistance towards this work is being provided by Essex County Council and Essex & Suffolk Water.

The felling of mature willows on the Paper Mill north bank is due to take place as soon as weather conditions allow, although we will avoid the school holidays. This will also involve the temporary moving of some moored craft and some temporary restrictions on navigation. Notices will be displayed around Paper Mill informing boaters as soon as we know when the work will start.

Staff changes. Unfortunately, Rick Forsyth will soon be leaving his position as a residential caretaker at Hoe Mill. We will shortly be interviewing applicants for this post. We have now received a temporary planning permission for two residential caretakers to be located at the upstream moorings at Heybridge Basin with the aim of improving both security and maintenance here. We are currently recruiting and will also be interviewing for these positions shortly. 

Navigation. During the recent unusually dry spell the water supply on the Navigation has held up surprisingly well. There is, however, always a risk that in exceptionally dry conditions restrictions on Navigation may have to be introduced due to lack of water. We therefore ask users to be mindful of this and wherever possible to share the use of locks with other boats during periods of low flows so as to reduce water use.

The lack of river flow and sunny weather results in rapid weed growth and this has started early this year. Our weed cutting boat has been subject to major rebuilding of the cutting gear in an attempt to improve its reliability. It is in regular use along the whole length of the Navigation.

Identification. The terms and conditions which you signed with your mooring agreement include:
 “4. You will ensure that the name of the Craft is prominently displayed on both sides of the Craft. All tenders, trailers, etc, must be clearly identifiable whilst on the Waterway or adjacent land managed by EWL”.   Whilst most boats and other items are compliant with this condition, there are still some boats, tenders and trailers which cannot be identified by a clearly visible name. Such identification is essential to Essex Waterways as we undertake regular checks on all boats and equipment on the waterway. We monitor their location, condition, safety, mooring lines (particularly during flood conditions) and state of the mooring jetties. If anything is amiss we can contact the owner, but only if we can identify the boat. Our ability to easily identify your boat is important to ensure you are made aware quickly and efficiently of any issue that might arise, and unmarked equipment and craft may be removed.

Electricity. We have received numerous complaints that the electricity outlets at Heybridge have been locked by users, thus preventing occasional use of the sockets by others. Only the residential moorers are entitled to lock their outlets as they have specific metered connections. All other card operated metered sockets should remain unlocked at all times for general use. We realise that some users may have credit remaining and advise them to use the lower value (£1) cards. As of 31st July 2011 the facility to lock these meters will be removed.

Boat lifting. The EWL replacement crane at Heybridge Basin has been busy so far this season and several boat owners have taken the opportunity to have their boats lifted for painting. May we remind you of our summer rate for a lift and hold in slings for your own scrub off at £84.00 inc. VAT (under 10m length). We can also provide pressure washing. Please contact Martin Maudsley if you wish to use our lifting service. 

Helmsman’s Courses. Essex Waterways recently received recognition by the Royal Yachting Association as a training centre for the RYA Inland Helmsman’s Certificate – the most widely recognised boat-handling qualification on Britain’s inland waterways.

Based at Paper Mill Lock, the Essex Waterways Helmsman’s School offers tuition aboard Caffel, a tiller steered, canopied narrowboat that has been fully equipped for use as a training vessel. The School has comfortable waterside classroom facilities, ample parking for students and a tearoom across the lock where snacks and light meals can be purchased. Subject to certain conditions the courses can be conducted aboard students’ own boats, or additional training and experience can be provided to supplement the RYA course.

The quiet waterway provides an ideal environment for novices and more experienced helmsmen (and of course helmswomen) to learn and practice new skills, and the curriculum includes all aspects of boat handling, safety, lock operation, rope handling, knots and hitches and associated topics.

The one day courses can be arranged as required, and will run with just two or three students under the supervision of a fully qualified instructor. Successful participants will receive RYA certification and can be assessed for European (CEVNI) qualification if required. The full course including tuition, practical boat handling, course material (including a copy of the RYA Inland Waterways Handbook), assessment and certification (where appropriate) currently costs £120, but as a special introductory offer two students booking a course together in 2011 will be charged just £99 each.  For full course details and to book places please contact Hugh Turner at Paper Mill Lock, telephone 07910 558465.

IWA. Many of you have taken up the offer in the last Newsletter for a year’s free membership of The Inland Waterways Association, our parent organisation. This offer is still open and we hope that more of you will join. Please see www.waterways.org.uk for more details about IWA. You are of course all welcome, whether members or not, to attend meetings arranged by the Chelmsford Branch of IWA. These are held at Moulsham Mill, Parkway, Chelmsford, (next to the Tesco Homestore and Army & Navy roundabout) and timed at 7.45pm for an 8.00pm start. Next meetings are:

8th September. Canals of Eastern Europe, John Pomfret (incidently John is a Director of EWL)

13th October.    The Story of London’s Docks, Jeremy Batch (Limehouse Lock Keeper)

10th November. Bow Back Rivers & the Olympic Construction Site, Colin Edwards

8th December.   Christmas Social, details to be announced    

12th January 2012. London’s Water Supply, John Cunningham 

Web-site. Essex Waterways has its own comprehensive section within the IWA web-site, where you can find useful information; www.waterways.or.uk  This can also be accessed by: www.essexwaterways.com            

Volunteers. In addition to our regular volunteers who work along the whole length of the Navigation, we now have several who regularly assist our residential caretakers at their mooring site. This helps us keep our costs down and continue to improve the Navigation. If you can spare a day or more to assist us, please contact Colin.

Events. There are several events planned along the Navigation during the summer and we are aware of the following which are open to all users:

16th July.  Lynsey & Colin’s Annual BBQ at Sandford Lock, all welcome.

24th July. Chelmsford Raft Race 2011, 2.45pm Backnang Square, moor at Springfield Basin. Entries welcome: contact David Chandler 01245 354755 or just come and watch.

20th August. Sandford Lock BBQ: david@nbcamelot.co.uk Stay over to Sunday for

21st August. Sandford Mill Open day. 

Residential Moorings.  Essex Waterways recognises the benefits of authorised residential moorings on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation.  The permanent presence of people on moorings on the Navigation can enhance security, deter vandalism and engender a community spirit on the waterway.  Essex Waterways welcomes the wide variety and different types of vessels on the Navigation, and is determined for the waterway to maintain its distinct character.  As with all moorings, there is a need for boat owners to keep their craft and surroundings in good order, and not to suburbanise the canal banks with storage, rubbish or unauthorised gardening.  No painting, alterations or works should be carried out to the mooring stages.

Residential moorings require planning permission, so Essex Waterways needs to gain formal agreement from the relevant local authority for each residential mooring on the Navigation.  Local authorities require a number of criteria to be satisfied before such approval, and often conditions are imposed on us over the maintenance and operation of residential moorings.  We have a duty to ensure that users of the Navigation are acting within the law, which includes ensuring we do not permit boats to be used as a person’s primary place of residence without the relevant planning permission.  On some inland waterways, the navigation authority is able to let people live on their boats without their having moorings with planning permission for residential use on the basis that they are ‘continually cruising’ – i.e. continually travelling around the connected waterways system – but this is not possible on our unconnected navigation.

In some parts of the country, waterway authorities have got themselves into difficulty by either turning a blind eye to unofficial residential moorings, or failing to enforce proper use of moorings. Essex Waterways is aware of these issues and recognises the need to ensure vessels on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation are only used as primary places of residence where formal planning permission exists.

Essex Waterways inherited six residential moorings at Heybridge Basin, has gained approval for two such moorings each at Sandford, Paper Mill and Hoe Mill, and has recently gained approved for two more moorings at Heybridge.  These latter eight are used for residential caretakers at each of the four sites.  All residential moorings pay a 50% premium on the usual mooring fee for that site.

To ensure that we comply with our duties to avoid unofficial or illegal residential moorings, Essex Waterways is drawing the situation to the attention of all boat owners with this letter.  We intend that all new and renewed mooring agreements should include a clause making clear that boats on the Navigation must not be used as a primary place of residence without planning permission held by the Company.  We also intend that all boat owners should have a duty to make this situation clear to anyone to whom they sell their vessel.  This is because there have been instances of boat owners misrepresenting to potential buyers that they had a right to sell their mooring with their vessel and/or that it could use for residential purposes.  We also intend to ask for proof from new boat owners, and from existing owners from time to time, of a usual residential address – either by copy of a driving licence or current utility or Council Tax bill.  This is to ensure that we have taken reasonable steps to ensure that boat owners on the Navigation do have a primary residential address elsewhere – and we do, of course, need to have a formal address to which mooring fee invoices and other documents can be sent.

Before implementing any changes to our mooring agreements and documentation procedures, which would be effective from 1st January 2012, we are writing to all boat owners now to seek your views.  If you think that we could fulfil our duties in this respect in a more efficient way, or you have views on the subject, we would be pleased to hear from you.  Please write to Essex Waterways, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA before 30th September 2011, or e-mail essex@waterways.org.uk.  Christine Walsh at Head Office will be collating responses for us.

Contacts:

Navigation Manager, Colin Edmond: 07966 375351

Moorings and Fisheries Manager, Hugh Turner: 07910 558465

Heybridge Lock keeper, Martin Maudsley: 07712 079764. VHF Channel 80 ’Heybridge Lock’