Our last Newsletter mentioned the storms at the end of 2013 which brought down around forty trees along the Navigation. This was followed by an exceptionally wet beginning to this year which saw the Navigation in almost continuous flood conditions throughout January and February. The floods have caused damage to banks above several of the locks including Rushes and Ricketts. They have also created shoals where navigation depth has been restricted and we are currently dealing with these at Barnes Lock and Beeleigh and removing flood debris. Our current priority is to ensure that the whole length of the waterway is safe for all visitors and open for navigation.
The flood conditions have also had a delaying effect upon our willow planting programme and maintenance along the Navigation. They have prevented access for contractors to investigate and price the lock repair work delayed from last year when the appointed contractor withdrew from the work. Contractors have now visited the sites and we currently await their prices.
As these works involve closures to navigation at Little Baddow Lock, Paper Mill Lock and Hoe Mill Lock, these works will now be programmed to start in September. Piling work above Hoe Mill Lock cannot now commence until after the fish spawning season (this is a legal requirement), although the works should be possible without navigation closure.
Floods and saturated ground conditions prevented access for bank work above Paper Mill Lock and this has had to be re-programmed for after August, once the birds have finished nesting.
We have carried out improvement work at the Paper Mill Lock car park. The final work here will be the repositioning of the access gate for which we are currently awaiting Highway Authority consent for a small area of work on the highway verge, which has to be undertaken by a Highway Authority approved contractor.
Work is continuing on the Paper Mill north bank toilets. These require upgrading of the electricity supply, but we are working on this and plan to have them available for use by Easter.
Soil conditions and the Flood Plain location at Sandford have delayed work starting here and mean that foundations for the new toilet block have to be to a higher specification and will require the use of specialist contractors. We are working to appoint a contractor to install these as soon as possible and once the foundations are in, they will be followed by the building construction.
We will shortly be commencing a programme to provide non-slip surfaced boards to all the lock gate platforms on the Navigation.
On another positive note, we will soon be taking delivery of a new machine that will enable us to undertake maintenance and improvement work, especially along the towpath, more efficiently. Although described as an Avant Loader, a wide range of attachments will also allow towpath mowing and bank and hedge cutting. We are aiming for a slightly wider path along some sections of the Navigation, to allow for the continuing high levels of use by walkers, and better controlled vegetation should allow the towpath to dry out quicker and be less muddy in future.
We have completed repairs to the wharf wall for half the length of the Taylor Wimpey development recently marketed as Indigo Wharf in Springfield Basin, Chelmsford. Mooring bollards have been installed and electric service points will be provided. This work has been funded by Taylor Wimpey in conjunction with Chelmsford City Council. Unfortunately there is no further funding for completion of the wharf at this time.
During two weekend working parties, volunteers from London Waterway Recovery Group, Kent & East Sussex Restoration Group, Essex Waterway Recovery Group and Chelmsford Branch Inland Waterways Association have concreted the path alongside the south bank visitor moorings at Heybridge Basin. Our next volunteer work party will be on 7th and 8th June.
A suggestion was made at the recent Users Meeting that boaters should have a greater representation with Essex Waterways Ltd. The Users Meetings are primarily held to enable this to happen. Although many of the directors of Essex Waterways Ltd are experienced boaters, we welcome the support and advice from a range of organisations within the Advisory Group and we would be pleased to have some boater representatives from the Navigation join this Group. It has been suggested that there could be a representative from each of the main mooring sites, though we recognise, however, that it may be difficult to establish an arrangement whereby there is a fair representation covering the views of all boaters on the Navigation. Please let us know if you any views on this.
There was also considerable discussion at the meeting about the recent outboard thefts from Paper Mill and what could be done to reduce the risk of what is a continuing problem throughout boatyards and marinas, especially in this part of the country. Essex Police were present to assist with this discussion. There were several offers to undertake further investigations on various security marking and tracker devices, which can aid recovery of stolen goods. There are a wide range of these available (search on ‘security marking’ in Google, for example), which boat owners may wish to take advantage of. Boaters were reminded that the most effective prevention theft-method is the use of Police outboard covers to replace the outboard cowling when a boat is left unattended and for the cowling to be temporarily taken home.
Daniel Wilkie will be joining us at the beginning of April as a residential caretaker at Heybridge Basin to succeed Neil Ramsden who has moved on to pastures new.
A Canal Fun Day is to be held at Springfield Basin on Saturday 5th April 2.00pm – 4.00pm when the official opening of the Timber Stack, specially designed sculptural seating for Indigo Wharf, will take place. There will be entertainment, activities and refreshments, so why not visit by boat and stay the weekend.
Please join us at the Chelmsford Inland Waterways Association social meetings at Moulsham Mill,
Parkway, Chelmsford (between the Tesco Home Store and the Army & Navy roundabout), 7.45pm for an 8.00pm start:
April 3rd: By popular request the return of Jimmy Lawrence with a talk ‘It wasn’t always summer’
May 8th: Something new, Anni Ridsdill Smith presenting SUP Riding (Stand up paddle boarding)
Smoke Alarms on Boats
The Fire Kills campaign is again encouraging people to test their smoke alarms when they change their clocks following the clocks going forward at the end of March. The snappy tagline 'TICK TOCK TEST', will help remind us all of the need to test our smoke alarms at this time of year.
Smoke alarms save lives, but only if they work. With over 130 boat fires on Boat Safety Scheme records last year, including one fatal fire and many others losing their possessions and sometimes homes, it is essential that people test their smoke alarms regularly.
A working smoke alarm can buy you and your crew the valuable seconds you need to escape the heat and choking toxic gases and then make the emergency calls. National Fire Kills figures show you're four times more likely to survive a fire if you have a working smoke alarm. Given the speed with which fire takes hold on a boat, this could be even higher odds for boaters.
Navigation Manager. Graham Brown 07966 375351
Mooring and Fisheries Manager. Hugh Turner 07910 558465
Essex Waterways Helmsman School. Hugh Turner 07910 558465
Heybridge Lock Keeper. Martin Maudsley 07712 079764/
VHF Channel 80 ‘Heybridge Lock’
Moorings Administrator. Christine Walsh 01494 783 453 ext 612
Essex Waterways Ltd. Out of hours Emergency No. 07968 020554