Dear GBA members,
There is no doubt that the past 12 months has seen a definite transformation at Guernsey Harbours.
We have moved into much calmer waters and out of the overfalls of the previous 3 years. Lines of communication are now clearly established and a good working relationship exists between us. Let’s just examine for a moment the improvements that have taken place in the last year.
FUELLING at St.Sampsons.
As promised, the extended pontoon facilities for re-fuelling and an access gangway has been installed together with improved safety arrangements. There is now provision for several boats to refuel at any one time or one much larger vessel to meet increasing demand. Our website shows a photograph of this site.
This was the result of an independent survey that was conducted 2 years ago and to which representatives of this Association were invited to offer their opinions and recommendations.
Following several meetings with Guernsey Harbours on this subject , Gary Thoume and I instigated our own subsequent survey last year in conjunction with David Norman on behalf of the Guernsey Marine Traders. We looked at the QE2, Albert and St.Sampsons Marinas where we identified 131 vacant moorings that were unoccupied and showing no signs of use. This figure was reduced to around 100+ after Guernsey Harbours confirmed that several of these berths had already been allocated and paid for but not filled by the respective berth holder.
Linden Galsworthy from Guernsey Harbours was then appointed to take over responsibility for managing the allocation of berths and I am delighted to report that there is now no waiting list. I haven’t received any complaints this year from local boat owners and in fact only heard of compliments.
We have suggested to the Authorities that they should actively promote the availability of moorings to encourage local first time buyers of vessels which would also serve to be of commercial benefit to the Marine Traders and maximise the potential income to the States of Guernsey.
I know that Guernsey Harbours are keen to offer spaces to non-local owners of larger vessels but when you see the number of small vacant berths especially on V & W Pontoons in the Albert, something pro-active needs to be done. The future success of boating in Guernsey must lie with the next generation.
I must admit that I had given up hope of ever reaching some positive conclusion on the replacement of hosepipes following the previous Harbour Director’s decision to take away any provision for hosepipes on the basis of Health & Safety issues.
We campaigned for ages and eventually earlier this year we reached a compromise. Steve Lowe, the new Marinas Manager, found a store of the original galvanised hose reels at St. Sampsons and offered us the use of them on a permanent basis.
All you have to do if you want one is to contact Steve at the Marina Office and a member of his staff will duly install a reel holder next to your nearest standpipe on your pontoon. You can then place your hosepipe on to it without any concern that it will be removed by the Authorities. I am aware that most of you have now purchased your own hosepipe but the convenience of leaving it on the reel holder is to be desired and you could share it with your neighbours. However, you have to take responsibility for it’s use and any liabilities. Actually, it has never been proved that there were any liabilities really.
SAFETY LADDERS on the pontoons.
You may have noticed that the Albert Quay and the Swan Pontoons have smart new safety ladders with much improved access from the water should you or a member of your crew fall in the ‘drink’. They are similar in design to those found in UK and some French marinas.
The existing ladders in our local marinas leave a lot to be desired. Not only are the tops of these ladders flush with the pontoon walkway but they are often placed in inaccessible positions and are invisible from sea level. Now this is a real Health & Safety issue!
So, Martin Stansfield, the Harbour Maintenance Manager, has confirmed to me that he plans to replace all of these second-rate ladders with the safer versions over the next two winters. An excellent result and another example of joint co-operation in all our interests.
ALBERT LAYING UP PAD.
This well-used facility has been repaired during this year and access to the slipway is available by contacting the Marina Office for the keys to the padlocks on the chain at the top of the slip.
SECURITY of access to the marina pontoons.
There has been a recent spate of unlawful entries on to several vessels on ‘A’ pontoon on the Salarie side of the QE2.
The owner of one of these boats reported this incident to the Harbour Office and to the Police. He also reported it to me for our assistance.
Following a meeting with Harbourmaster Capt. Chad Murray, Chad has confirmed to me that he is investigating the possible siting of infra-red cameras at all the marinas to be mounted at the top of the individual gangways which will record all access to our vessels on a 24hour basis together with suitable signage advertising this fact. The gangways will be monitored by both Port Control and the Police from time to time but should there be any further break-ins, obviously the info can be retrieved from the recorded data.
This is a much better provision than access gates with either combination locks or FOB cards which will be more expensive and ineffective in the long term.
JESCC. - JOINT EMERGENCY SERVICES CO-ORDINATION CENTRE.
This so-called project is the one area where we and Guernsey Harbours differ.
In 2015 , the Home Committee and the previous Public Services Department ( now known as the Trading Supervisory Board) decided to centralise and amalgamate all the Emergency Services under one roof based at Police HQ, including the Guernsey Coastguard, and we were invited to view the new operation- and as a result became concerned with our findings. However, despite our numerous protestations, our criticisms fell on stony ground.
Apparently this innovative change was in the interests of improved efficiency and cost-saving. Guernsey was to be the first place in the British Isles where this joint exercise would be set up. I understand the merits in combining all the Land Emergency Services but the addition of the Maritime Coastguard Service is a step too far in our opinion.
We all appreciate that the sea is constantly on the move and conditions can change very quickly. And Guernsey Harbours has always had an excellent reputation for providing a very professional Coastguard service and being the regional centre for all Search & Rescue Maritime Affairs.
Recently the Home Department has admitted that there has been a vast overspend on necessary training, especially the Coastguard section, and they have been suffering with high staff turnover due to stress levels and working shift patterns.
Barry Paint , on behalf of the GFA ,and I on your behalf, took this opportunity to reiterate our original concerns to the Authorities and were subsequently asked to meet with the Home Committee to outline these worries. As a result the Committee requested that we independently review the revised operation and report back to them with our updated findings. Gary Thoume, Alf Dorrian and myself duly did this.
We noted that there had been some improvements to the service since our last visit 2 years ago but the operators still lack any maritime experience and the necessary local geographical knowledge of our area. Half the original radio operators had either been made redundant in 2015 or retired and the other half are currently employed at Port Control. The Home Department has now requested some kind of internal review once again but it is unlikely that their findings and any recommendations will be made public. So, we remain in the dark! Meanwhile we are left with basically a Call Centre operation and not a professional Coastguard Service. Vast sums of taxpayers’ money have been spent and overspent on this project and it continues to haemorrhage.
In concluding this rather long Annual Report, I am sure that you all appreciate that your GBA Committee has been working very hard to represent your boating interests during the past 12 months and my thanks go to them for their support and advice. Our GBA website and Facebook page continues to broadcast any local marine matters with links to the Guernsey Harbours website and several of our marine suppliers sites. Please pass on this info to your fellow berth holders who may not be a GBA member as we wish to encourage new membership. It only costs £20 per year but we do endeavour to give you value for money.
So, thanks for your support and let’s all look forward to a new boating season in 2018 and fair weather.
Nick Guillemette. ( President of the GBA.)