Here’s hoping that the weather will improve and we can all enjoy the Navigation.
Firstly, a thank you to all those who attended the Users Meeting at Langford in February. Some useful comments and ideas came from this meeting.
The recent wet months have seen flooding on the Navigation and have also encouraged rapid growth of grass along the towing path and around the locks. Our small band of regular volunteers are currently struggling with this, so please bear with us while we try to get the cutting back to normal.
We are also experiencing problems with an upper paddle at Rushes Lock and gate closure at Barnes Lock. These items are being further investigated to try and affect repairs without having to close the locks to drain these. If we do have to install dams, we will post Notices and endeavour to minimise the length of closure. Please remember that the locks and their gear are historic structures, over 200 years old, and treat them with respect. If you do not have your own laminated copy of the Lock Instruction sheet for The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, please ask Hugh for one.
Following continuing problems with servicing and cleaning of the temporary toilet at Sandford, we have now changed supplier.
The time of year is also approaching when any hot weather will bring with it the usual rapid growth of blanket weed and its associated problems affecting navigation. The whole length of the waterway is annually affected by this, and we will deal with it as quickly as possible, however, as on almost all inland waterways, there will be a short period when it is a problem.
The new landing stage at the Paper Mill slipway was completed in January and the planned Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camp took place in February to carry out vegetation management below Hoe Mill. The willows on the north bank at Paper Mill Lock have finally been cropped after difficulties with access and weather.
Work on the second phase of improvements to the north quay at Heybridge Basin continues, this has been slower than planned due once again to the weather and our regular volunteers being busy elsewhere.
The various consents are now in place for the proposed new toilets on the north bank at Paper Mill and a work programme is being finalised. Planning Permission is expected shortly for the new toilets and stores at Sandford.
The end of July and early August will see two further volunteer Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camps during which it is planned to carry out brickwork repairs at Rushes weir. During this period there will be regular movement of work boats between Hoe Mill and Rushes lock.
We also plan to carry out further brickwork repairs to the sluices at Little Baddow Mill during August.
We currently have our full complement of residential caretakers with two at each mooring site. Neil Ramsden at Heybridge Basin has been joined by Gary Ball on his boat “Drijfsijs”. Carol White is on the upper moorings at Sandford aboard “Barolo” and Samuel Holden is at Paper Mill, but is still awaiting delayed delivery of his new boat.
Interviews are shortly to take place for a new Navigation Manager in anticipation of the retirement of Colin Edmond. We will also be interviewing for an Assistant Lengthsman or Ranger to work with Michael Cole.
We wish Colin a speedy recovery from his recent operation.
One of our customers who was unfortunate to have had his outboard stolen has asked us to draw your attention to the fact that his insurance is refusing to pay out because there was no lock fitted to the outboard. He suggests that you check your insurance for similar clauses, as such requirements are often not realised until a problem occurs. May we remind you all to take great care with your valuables. Outboard motors should always be locked and any valuable items also locked out of sight. Moorings and boats can often be the target for theft and we all need to be aware of this and minimise the potential risk.
We have been made aware of illicit fishing on the Navigation, including the use of nets across the river. If you see anything suspicious, please let us know. You are also reminded that boaters have priority use of the lock landing stages, and those fishing from them are most likely unauthorised and not members of the licensed angling clubs.
The annual Chelmsford Raft Race will be held at Backnang Square on Sunday July 15th, at around 3.00pm. This event is organised by Chelmsford Branch of The Inland Waterways Association in conjunction with the Lions Club of Chelmsford. Any team of four can build a raft (Rules available) and enter the race. Several prizes of £100 and £50 are available, but most of all, it is a fun afternoon drawing attention to the towns’ waterways. Details and entry forms available from David 01245 354755 or Roy 01245 223732.
Navigation Manager, Colin Edmond. 07966 375351
Mooring and Fisheries Manager, Hugh Turner. 07910 558465 (office hours)
Essex Waterways Helmsman School, Hugh Turner. 07910 558465 (office hours)
Heybridge Lock Keeper, Martin Maudsley. 07712 079764. VHF Channel 80 “Heybridge Lock”