Spring has finally sprung in Lechlade and, for us, the new boating season has also begun, with the cruisers that were stored on land over the winter now back in the water.
The craning operation took place on a bitterly cold but thankfully dry Saturday at the start of April, with the team from MJT Crane Hire Ltd once again on site. Barry Tuckey and his two ‘banks-women’ – his daughter, Lisa, and regular assistant, Sharon – arrived with their 60-tonne crane just before 9am and, with the help of some of the boat owners, all 10 cruisers were safely transferred to their berths in just two and a half hours.
Covid restrictions over the last year meant that many owners didn’t feel it was worth putting their boats back in the water last spring, so most of the ones craned in this year had been on dry land for nearly 18 months. With the end of the pandemic now hopefully in sight, it’s lovely to have the marina looking so full once again.
Thanks to Barry, Lisa, Sharon and all our socially distanced owner/helpers for a job very well done. We’re now keeping everything crossed for some fine weather and looking forward to a busy summer.
A huge benefit of much the restoration work we’ve done at the marina over the past few years has been the positive impact on the natural environment. Clearing the site, cutting back overgrown shrubs, removing diseased trees and opening up the landscape has resulted in healthy flora thriving and a huge increase in the amount of wildlife in the marina. We’ve now got a really inviting habitat for fish, water voles, kingfishers, swans and ducks – and the populations keep growing!
Our most recent investment has been in hedging, to replace some of the trees that had to be removed and which will also provide additional shelter and food for our wildlife. Kingsdown Nurseries supplied us with a total of 270 whips, which we’ve managed to get in the ground just in time for a spring growth spurt.
We’ve put in a 12m beech hedge along one edge of the car park and then along the western boundary, running from the river bank back into the marina, we’ve planted a 42m mix of shrubs – hawthorn, cherry plum, privet, hazel, pear and beech. Once they’ve matured, they should provide excellent privacy and protection, as well as nesting for birds, blossom for bees and plenty of foraging opportunities for smaller mammals.
The lockdowns over the last year have certainly given us the opportunity to get things done more quickly than we otherwise could have under normal business conditions. But now that restrictions are about to start easing, we’re very much looking forward to welcoming everyone back over the coming months to enjoy our beautiful marina once again.
On 31st January, we finally completed the mammoth task of replacing the entire electricity and water supply around the marina, which we’d begun in September last year. The services hadn’t been upgraded since the marina opened in the early ‘80s and were really no longer adequate for the needs of our moorers. (And Ian was getting very bored of multiple daily visits to the main fuse board every time the circuit breaker tripped!)
This was a huge undertaking, as trenches had to be dug across the whole site – many by hand because of the location. That presented a challenge in itself: finding contractors who are prepared to hand-dig is not easy. Once we’d got a new electricity supply for the site, 800m of cables and water pipes were laid in the trenches and smart new bollards were installed by the moorings. We have to say, Stuart Baines from RMCS did a superb job of project-managing the installation of the bollards and we’d highly recommend his services.
At the same time as this work was going on, we put in new SOS stations and replaced many of the wooden landing stages, as well as doing a lot of general tidying up. So, although there are still a few jobs on the list that we made when we arrived at the marina, we’re getting there!
One of the most important jobs on the very long list we made when we took over the marina was refurbishing the bridge to the island. A general lack of maintenance over the years since it was first built in the early ‘90s had been further compounded by mild damage suffered when a boat underneath it caught fire!
So, as well as giving it a much-needed aesthetic facelift, we wanted to make sure the whole bridge structure was fully compliant with current Health & Safety standards and providing proper services to the island moorings.
Over a period of two weeks, we reinforced the structure, painted it, replaced all the stair treads and walkway deck with an anti-slip surface and put up safety guards. We also had a cable tray fitted to support the new insulated water pipe and mains electricity cable.
And we’re very pleased with it. The only downside, as our son pointed out, is that he can no longer play ‘Pooh sticks’ from the top. More outings to Halfpenny Bridge have been promised!