Boaters Newsletter - October 2012

Dear Users,


Our last Newsletter reported problems with paddles at Barnes and Rushes Locks. We have been able to carry out repairs to these using divers, thus avoiding closures to navigation during the summer period. Further work will however be required at Barnes Lock, more later...

This type of paddle damage is often caused by misuse – paddles being dropped instead of being wound down, use of incorrect windlass handle and we have even heard of hammers being used! It is in the interest of all to use locks properly and in accordance with our printed (laminated sheet) of lock instructions to the letter. Please mitre the gates correctly and leave the paddles as the instructions. 

Work completed

Two Waterway Recovery Group week long Canal Camps provided volunteers during July and August to undertake replacement of eroded brickwork on the sloping weir face at Rushes Weir as well as other adjoining bank repairs.

It was unfortunate that we had, out of necessity, to undertake fairly major repairs to the gents’ part of the facilities block at Heybridge during August, especially as the extent of rebuilding required was far greater than anticipated. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to users during this period. Similar work will need to be carried out to the Ladies part of the block and this is planned for a quieter period in late October.

Work planned

There is still some finishing of work required to the north quay at Heybridge Basin and this is planned for October.
The second phase of brickwork repairs to the sluices in the private grounds of Little Baddow Mill House are also planned for October.

All consents are now in place for the new toilet building on the north bank at Paper Mill Lock. Work on this is programmed to start prior to the end of the year. This building will also incorporate a sluice for emptying chemical toilet waste.

Planning Permission has been granted for the new toilets and stores at Sandford Lock, but further consents are necessary before work can commence here, hopefully a start can be made early in 2013.

Work is required to the landing stage above Hoe Mill Lock and to the cills at Barnes Lock, Little Baddow Lock and Paper Mill Lock. The cill work will require closures to navigation at each lock. The next lock gate replacement will be the lower gates at Hoe Mill Lock. We are currently arranging a programme for these works with our contractors and we expect to avoid busy periods.

A further week-long Waterway Recovery Group Canal Camp is planned at the end of October when cutting overhanging branches and vegetation management in the Beeleigh to Heybridge area is planned to take place.

Staff changes 

Colin Edmond, will be retiring in November and we thank him for his service.  Colin has been our Navigation Manager since Essex Waterways took on management of the waterway in November 2005, and prior to that Colin was lockkeeper at Heybridge for twenty years with the Navigation Company. We wish him all the best for his retirement. His successor, Graham Brown, is already in post, working with Colin during a short handover period. We welcome Graham who has experience from a larger organisation and local knowledge of the waterway.

Also new to our staff are James Cole and Sam Hobden as Assistant Lengthsmen who will work with our Senior Lengthsman carrying out maintenance, repairs and improvements along the Navigation. These are new posts aimed at helping us improve our operation.

2013 charges

Our costs and overheads continue to rise and the Board has therefore agreed that our charges for 2013 must also increase to acknowledge the Retail Price Index increases. Our charges for 2013, with effect from 1st January 2013 will increase by 3% and this applies to moorings, visitor moorings, crane lifting, yacht stores and trailer parking, etc. Canoe and camping charges will remain unchanged. 

Paper Mill store sheds

With the employment of additional lengthsmen it will become necessary to increase our use and security of the storage sheds at Paper Mill Lock. There appears to be items belonging to some of our users in both the main workshop adjoining Paper Mill Lock and in the shed on the north bank. The locks on both these buildings will be changed and in future access will be restricted to EWL staff. If you have items in either store, these must be removed prior 31st October 2012. After this date any remaining items will be disposed of and the locks changed.

Navigation Speed Limits

This item is written by one of our residential caretakers after observing boats passing through the moorings on the Navigation at excessive speed. Please take note of this so your boat name is not added to those already noted for excessive speed!

We thought you might be due for a reminder about the reasons for speed limits on the navigation.  There have been a few, less cautious boaters on the navigation recently showing little regard for the speed limit so a reminder to all of why the speed limits are in place is called for.  The speed limit on the navigation is four miles per hour or slow enough for the wake from the bow not to wash up on the banks.  This means that on many stretches of the river you will have to travel slower than four miles an hour.  It is also river etiquette to slow down when passing moorings, enough to cause as little as possible movement to the moored boats.  Again, this will be less than four miles an hour.

The first reason I would like to stress is one that is close to my heart.  I live on the river to be surrounded by the beauty and nature of such a lifestyle and so am very aware of the damage speeding can cause.  The wash from the wake can cause erosion of the banks, can flood burrows for voles, kingfishers and insects, such as rare burrowing bees, and can disturb nesting sites for waterfowl.  I am sure we all wish to preserve the beauty of our waterway and sticking to the speed limits is one way in which we can all contribute to maintaining our natural environment.

A second reason is a safety issue.  We have a number of winding sections of river where, especially in the summer, the sight along the river is impeded.  Needless to say, if you can’t see another boater coming and you’re carrying speed an accident may well occur.  Don’t forget the canoeists are even harder to see and a collision with a larger boat would definitely result in serious injury at the least.  None of us want that on our conscious so remember that it is not only other large vessels we have to watch out for.

A third reason is good helmsmanship.  It is a sign of a good helmsman that he is in control of his vessel.  Many speeding boaters will not be in control of their boat should anything out of the ordinary occur.  None of us are aware of what is under the water line and we know that all sorts of rubbish have been thrown into the river on occasion.  A speeding boat is not a boat in control should it hit an underwater obstruction of any kind, including blanket weed!  Also it should be noted that on certain shallow, narrow parts of our waterway the faster you try to go the more it will slow you down.  The physics involved in the propulsion of boats by propeller and the drawing of the water past the hull can actually cause the boat to slow, in which case trying to go faster to compete with the water movements will only wear your engine and waste fuel,  the water won’t give up the fight, go with it!

Occasionally we have all been caught in situations where a little bit of extra power is necessary, turning in high winds, manoeuvring out of a situation and such like but power is not the same as speed.  Furthermore, once the situation is rectified the power can be reduced and ambling along the river resumed.  After all why did we buy boats if not to escape the trappings of day to day life and relax a little more?  Messing about on boats should be an enjoyable affair and one to calm the nerves.  So why speed?


Many events take place along the Navigation during the course of the year. We would like to produce a programme of these so as to avoid any clashes of interest and to make you all aware of them, thus providing the opportunity to attend or avoid, depending on your interests. If you are planning any events next year, please let Graham Brown know the dates and details for inclusion.

The Inland Waterways Association’s Chelmsford Branch has once again started its programme of monthly social meetings which take place at Moulsham Mill, Parkway, Chelmsford, (next to Tesco Home store and the Army & Navy roundabout) timed at 7.45pm for an 8.00pm start. You are all welcome to attend:

October 11th   Peter Hesketh – just back from a trip round the world on cargo vessels

November 8th   Barrie Sanderson – “Portwey” – one of three remaining coal fired tugs

December 13th Christmas Social plus Keith Leedham – award winning slide sequences 
January 10th 2013 Darren Tansley from Essex Wildlife Trust – Vole Recovery Project

Users Meeting

We intend to hold our next Users Meeting in late January, the date and venue will be announced in our next Newsletter.