Removing boats that were no longer seaworthy or unlikely to be used again has freed up around 40 berths in Guernsey Ports marinas in the last two years.
They have been removed by their owners, either from a marina berth or a mooring elsewhere in St Peter Port Harbour, as part of an initiative by Guernsey Ports to maximise the space available for local boat owners.
There are currently almost 200 people on a waiting list for a berth.
Assistant Harbour Master Kieran Higgs said although a vessel may appear “abandoned”, that may not always be the case as each owner’s circumstances may be different. It therefore needs to be handled sensitively.
“We are usually aware when a boat has not left its moorings for some time, and if that does happen we will contact the owner to try and establish what their future plans are,” he said.
“There can be lots of reasons why they may not have been out to sea recently. For example, they may be experiencing a period of ill health, either for them or a family member, or their financial circumstances have temporarily curtailed their use. So it is possible they have been unable to enjoy their boat as much as they would like, but do not feel ready to give up boating altogether. It may be one of the things they are most looking forward to getting back to.”
Guernsey Ports has three marinas for local boats – Albert, QEII and St Sampson’s – which provide more than 1,400 berths. It also has more than 200 other moorings in St Peter Port Harbour.
Pictured: The marine services team, from left: Vicky Eborall (Marine Services Officer), Kieran Higgs (Assistant Harbour Master), Colin Mechem (Marine Services Assistant), Laura Wakeford (Marine Services Officer).
Under the terms and conditions of use, mooring holders are required to keep their boat in seaworthy condition. For instance, they must be watertight with a working engine in the case of motorised vessels, and carry appropriate navigation and safety equipment, such as life jackets and flares. It is also a legal requirement for all boat owners to hold valid insurance.
Owners will be asked to remove their boats if they do not conform with these requirements, but that is relatively rare.
“We have quite a mix of boats in the marina, including a lot of older ones in various condition. Some perhaps look a little tired but they are still perfectly seaworthy, and will see a lot of use during the season. Obviously we require them to be structurally and mechanically sound, and properly equipped, but we are not really here to police the appearance of everyone’s boat.
“Where they are not seaworthy, we can take steps to have them removed.”
Of those near 200 people on the waiting list for a berth in one of the marinas, some already have a mooring but want to upgrade to a larger vessel, whereas many others are entering the boating market for the first time.
Everyone on the waiting list was contacted at the end of last year, to confirm they were still interested in a mooring. Anyone who failed to respond or decided their circumstances had changed were removed from the list.
Mr Higgs said Guernsey Ports was actively looking to manage the available space as efficiently as possible, to accommodate as many vessels as it can.
“We want to ensure as many customers as possible can enjoy boating, and to ensure the marinas are run as commercially as possible, which means optimising the space we have available”, he said.
“If a customer cancels their mooring with us, that provides us with an opportunity for another user. It could be a straight swap, or it could be that we reconfigure an area to provide some larger berths, which are currently in very short supply. That then potentially frees up another space elsewhere. The process is rarely straightforward process but it is most rewarding when it all comes together, and I am fortunate to have a great team at marine services,” he said.
Enquiries regarding local vessel moorings, waiting list applications, and cancellations, are handled by Guernsey Ports’ marine service centre, which is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm and can be contacted on email@example.com or 01481 220654.
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