Boaters Newsletter - October 2014

Dear Users and Supporters,

Welcome to October’s newsletter. As we reach the autumn I think it's fair to say we've experienced a real mix in the weather conditions over this summer period. It started off with three weeks of almost constant sunshine and hot days but was broken mid-cycle with a spell of high winds and heavy rain which saw a rather abrupt end to what was promising to be a lovely couple of months or so. As I write this, the sun has reappeared and hopefully we still have a good few weeks of boating left in this season yet!

In the previous newsletter we informed you that we had purchased and had been making use of our new equipment in order to assist us with the maintenance of the canal and towpaths. The Avant 635 agricultural vehicle has been working hard over the last few months along the towpath cutting back the ever-growing vegetation and assisting us with various other tasks. The vehicle, which is road legal, quickly reached 50 hours work along the navigation and so had to go away for its first service.

The new Conver C420 Weed Cutting Boat has also made its debut along various stretches of the Navigation on its mission to cut back and remove some of the weed that appears during the summer months along the waterway.  The weed cutter has made such a difference to the speed in which this task is carried out. The vessel is able to cut much quicker than the old one and is much more manoeuvrable - and reliable! It has been fondly referred to as the Easy Jet of the waterway due to its bright orange colour.

Work completed
Essex Waterways has been working alongside Essex & Suffolk Water at various points throughout the water company’s pipeline project, which is something that those local to the area cannot have failed to miss. There have been two crossings of the Navigation for each of which Essex & Suffolk Water has bored underneath the waterway using the most up to date and sophisticated pieces of equipment which has meant the tunnelling has had no affect on navigation. At Rushes Lock, we have worked with the water company to re-surface some of the towpath up to the 51 Bridge using some of the pipeline’s left over earth, soil and clay. This area in particular suffers quite badly in flood conditions and tends to cover the footpath. This leads to the towpath being washed away and the floods can sometimes cause damage to the banks too. We have used some of their spoils to shore up some areas of the banks along that stretch. The lock will also be regraded as well to allow for a smoother path down to the landing stage below the lock on the towpath side.

Boaters may have noticed that many of the lock boards are gradually being replaced. The old ones were starting to rot away at some of the edges and were starting to look a bit shabby. We decided  to replace all of the boards and to install an anti slip system into those boards at the same time. Around half of the boards have been replaced and we are working to have the rest finished by Easter next year. This should assist an assured and comfortable foot board when operating the locks.  

Work on the Sandford toilet block is also well under way. We mentioned in the last newsletter that the concrete surface had been laid. Since then the majority of the timber structure has been fabricated away from site at the big shed on the island at Paper Mill Lock. The panels have now been taken up to Sandford and stored ready for the construction to start at the end of September, so hopefully work on this will be underway as you are reading this.

The recessed gate to the boaters’ car park at Paper Mill Lock is now also complete. Essex County Council’s Highways Department found the relevant paperwork after much prompting and chasing which allowed us to get the entrance re-surfaced using one of their authorised contractors. The gate is now fitted and painted and is in operation. We have also installed a couple of notices around the gates informing people that it is a private car park. As always, please can we take this opportunity to remind you to please remember to close and lock the gate after use to stop unauthorised use of the car park and help ensure that those entitled to use it have space to do so.

Work planned
Essex Wildlife Trust has confirmed that it intends to start the planned works between Paper Mill Lock and Little Baddow in about Mid-October. Part of this work will include some shoring up of the banks and footpath maintenance and repairs. This area of towpath will be closed throughout the works and a diversion has been put in place by Essex County Council Highways Team.

Stage 2 of the development at Waterfront Place at Springfield Basin is due to start shortly and this will include the repair of the existing wharf walls. In addition to this, serviced moorings are to be installed at the same time, similar to those on the opposite side of the basin. During this period of work, the mooring of boats on the south side of the basin along the black railing will not be possible. Boats that are currently moored there have been asked to temporarily move to a different position. Some of the planned works will require the lowering of water levels in the basin, the same as was necessary earlier this year, and this will restrict access into and out of the basin at times. During these periods, it is planned that the lock gates will be locked closed.

We are still offering use of the Heybridge crane for a lift hold and scrub during the autumn, at a price of £90 for vessels under 10 metre length. Contact Martin Maudsley.

Our boat trailer is available at Paper Mill Lock for trailable boats whose owners wish to remove boats via the slipway for short period work ashore. Contact Hugh Turner.

We have recycling facilities at Sandford Lock. Please use these for disposal of cans, bottles and paper as required by Chelmsford City Council and to help reduce the amount of rubbish and costs associated with landfill. We have been asked to remind users not to place paint or oil in the refuse bins as containers get crushed by the compaction gear on the freighter, causing spills over the vehicle and roadway, which we could then have to pay to be cleaned-up.

Essex WRG recently had a weekend camp with us when work was carried out at Hoe Mill to dig and fill a soakaway, laying drains and driveway surfacing. Much of this was achieved with help from the Avant tractor. Work to re-paint areas of the sheds was also started. Members of Chelmer Canal Trust have continued their work clearing invasive weeds and litter picking.

It's encouraging to see that we are still getting new volunteers to work alongside full time staff on the navigation. We have recently had two more start with us since the last newsletter whom both bring differing helpful skills and attributes which are most welcome along the length of the canal.  If you would like to assist in any way, please contact Graham Brown.

Mooring Fees and Charges
All mooring fees and other charges levied by Essex Waterways Ltd are due to rise by 1.5% with effect from 1st January 2015, other than the single day fees for class 4 licences, which cover canoes and other unpowered vessels. These will remain at £5.

Social Scene
New and regular users are welcome to attend our IWA social meetings. There are three left before the end of the year, so feel free to come to join us at Moulsham Mill, Parkway, Chelmsford (between the Tesco Home Store and Army & Navy roundabout) 7.45pm for an 8.00pm start. There is plenty of car parking and refreshments are provided. Several of the presentations are of particular local interest.  Details of these meetings are below:

9th October           Heybridge Basin. Denys Harrison (TBC) (Denys is known to be the local historian at Heybridge Basin)
13th November    The Droitwich Ring, Roger Squires (Roger always gives us an interesting talk)
11th December     Christmas Gathering and Historic Films, Roy Cox (Roy’s films are always well worth seeing)   

Also of interest
IWA has secured a place in the 2015 London Marathon through the Virgin Money London Marathon Charity Ballot and IWA now seeks to fill it with an enthusiastic runner who would like to raise money for the Association (including Essex Waterways).
This is a brilliant opportunity to step up to the challenge and take part in the largest annual fundraising event in the world. The runner will receive support and publicity from IWA to help attain sponsorship, which could be for IWA , the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation or other waterway cause chosen by the selected runner.

If you are interested in running for IWA in the 2015 London Marathon please register your interest by contacting Toby Gomm at or telephone 01494 783 453 ext.611.

We thought those of you who do not receive the IWA membership publication 'Waterways' might like to see online the recent interview with our chairman and his wife on pages 30 to 33.

Contact Us     
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 783453  ext 612,

Essex Waterways Ltd. Out of hours Emergency No. 07968 020554