The Guernsey Boat Owners' Association is celebrating its 100th Birthday this year (2023)

The History of the GBA

With our grateful appreciation to R John Torode – President 1977 to 2002

and Nick Guillemette President 2015 to date.

Over the past century the leisure boat industry has grown enormously and the demand for berthing spaces continues to be in short supply. There have been many advances in technology, not only in boat design but also in navigational aids like Radar, GPS, AIS (Automatic Identification System), ATON (positioning) beacons and VTS (Vessel Traffic Service). All of these innovations are available to leisure boaters including RYA courses on boat maintenance, local pilotage and ocean navigation, all designed to provide safety at sea.

The following dates and events highlight the success of the GBA since its formation in 1923.

MARCH 24th. 1923. – The GBA was formed with similar objectives to that of now. (see the membership details) and an article on the Front Page of the Guernsey Weekly Press dated 24th.March 1923.

The annual subscription was 12.5p in today’s money, and one of the rules was that “the GBA Burgee must be flown by all members when visiting Herm”.

The purpose of the GBA was “to foster and watch over the interests of any of its members in connection with boating”

This was because in those early years the GBA was mainly involved with the agreements for passenger traffic to and from Herm, and also that Island’s harbour, ladders and steps maintenance.

NOVEMBER ,1923 – An Agreement was reached with Sir Percival Perry, the Tenant of Herm, regarding a poll tax and landing regulations. (GEP article by Victor Coysh March 29th. 1973).

1935 – The States of Guernsey co-opted the GBA to assist in the Water Carnival held in celebration of the Silver Jubilee of King George V (see GEP Weekly press 11th & 7th.May 1935) and again in 1937 for the Coronation of King George V1. ( see GEP Weekly Press May 1937).

1940 – The German Occupation put paid to any private boating activities and fuel supplies were restricted to licenced fishermen only.

Over the years, the GBA worked together with the GYC and the RCIYC to press the States for improved facilities. Missing beacons, dangerous ladders, weed covered piers and the removal of dangerous boulders were some of the issues tackled.

1946 – The GBA was revived. The Association was concerned with the absence of the Russel beacons on Muse, Amfre, Moulinet and Epec as well as the disappearance of such marks as the de Sausmarez Memorial at Delancey and the Doyle Column at Jerbourg.

The little pier at the Halfway had also become covered in seaweed and some of the Town ladders were deemed to be dangerous. Gradually these needs were attended to by the States.

1947 – Missing Beacons at Longue Pierre, Sardrette and Petit Creux were replaced and the erection of the monument at Jerbourg was re-instated. The steps leading to the outer “cauchee” at La Salarie were also replaced that year.

1948 – The Board of Administration offered private boatowners a “10 shiling season ticket” to cover landing dues on Herm. That’s equivalent to 50p today.

1951 – Liberation Day/ (see GEP article 10th.May 1951)

1953 – Queen Elizabeth 11 Coronation.  Boat parade to celebrate the event.

1957 – Queen’s visit on Britania escorted by the GBA from St.Martin’s Point to St.Peter Port.

1959 – GBA members started complaining about the lack of mooring spaces in St.Peter Port and St.Sampsons due to increasing demand for boats.

This situation has continued over the proceeding decades and has resulted in the construction of the Victoria Marina in 1973, the Albert Marina in 1978, the QE2 Marina in 1987, the St.Sampsons Marina in 2005 and now the proposed Pool Marina Project to create more berths. All designed to meet the growing demands of the leisure boat market in Guernsey.

1965. – GBA presses for a beacon to be placed on Oyster Rock which finally appeared after many meetings with harbour officials, pilots, and the States Supervisor.
1973. – GBA 50th. Golden Anniversary. (see Victor Coysh GEP article 23rd. March 1973).
1973 – 200 boat owners waiting for new moorings. (GEP article 11th.April 1973).
1973 – Opening of the Victoria Marina and plan for local boats. (GEP article 11th.April 1973).
1974 – GEP articles on 14th and 24thJune ’74 showing plans and States agreement on proposals for the development of the Albert Marina.
1975. – The Small Boat Owners Association, which cared for small boats moored in the bays around Guernsey, merges with the GBA to form the new combined GBA.
1976. – The Grand Water Show ’76. (see GEP photos 2785/76 & 2781/76). This was organised by the GBA in conjunction with the RNLI, SJAB, and the Fire Services to demonstrate safety at sea.
1978. – The Opening of the Albert Marina.
1979. – Control of Bay moorings goes to the Parish Constables from the GBA. (see GEP article dated 17th.January ’79). The enlarged GBA overwhelmingly voted in favour of this decision despite being the recipient of vociferous opposition at that time.
1979. – Following the Orion oil rig disaster, the GBA organised an auction of all the bits and pieces salvaged from a lifeboat off this rig that was washed overboard. The funds raised from this auction were donated to the RNLI.
1980. – Oil Spillage in St.Sampsons Harbour – see GEP 18th.February, photos 250/29A/80 and 251/7/80.
And follow-up piece on 2nd. Sept. see photos 1317/9/81.

In the 1980’s, discounts were introduced for GBA members and negotiated with local chandlers and other selected outlets. These continue today and have expanded. (see the benefits of membership on our website).

From 1980 until the mid – 90’s, with an increasing interest generally in boating, membership grew steadily from 180 to peak at over 1,100 members.

1980 – 16th.February. – Plans for the proposed development of the QE2 Marina were published in the GEP.
1981 – 11th.March – GBA article in the GEP supporting the QE2 Plans.
And again on 10th.April 1981 – citing that the creation of the QE2 marina will go some way to providing additional berths for leisure boat owners. (see photo 592/8/81).

The Board of Administration stated that this construction would not only meet the demand for new moorings but would also provide extra protection for Glategny Esplanade sea front to enable the finance industry to prosper by developing this site for new banks, etc and to cater for much needed parking areas for the general public thereby benefitting the Town traders, restaurants and other establishments in expanding St.Peter Port. It was also proposed to re-site the marshalling yard on the White Rock, construct a new Customs centre, strengthen the New Jetty, create a new Inter-Island Quay for local Herm and Sark ferries as well as utilising the dredged silt from the shallowing Pool area as landfill for the new car parks on North Beach and the Salarie.

1981 – 4th.July – Abandoned boats clearance to create more moorings. (GEP photos 1280/12A/81.
29th July – Illuminated Boat Display by the GBA. See photos GEP 30th.July Back Page.
1981 – GBA introduces 3rd.aprty insurance cover for leisure vessels.
1981- 9th.December – designs for a new slipway in Havelet Bay using the Castle Cornet western reef for support. See GBA plan as published in the GEP on that date. Photos 2324/17/81.

Concerns were raised for a safe landing place for visiting yachts moored in Havelet Bay. Rowing ashore was dangerous in certain conditions, and the increase in the number of rowing boats, dinghy sailors and power boaters using the main harbour entrance all required a safer launching spot away from the commercial movements of St.Peter Port.

This slipway was eventually built based on an alternative design and attached to the outside of the Castle Emplacement wall. It has required repeated major maintenance ever since and has recently re-opened in time for the 2023 Island Games.

1983 – GBA celebrates its 60th.Diamond Anniversary. (see “the Weekender Magazine” dated 26th.March.)

1985 – 40th.Anniversary of the Liberation of Guernsey. With an Illuminated Boat Display in St.Peter Port organised by the GBA. See GEP 10th.May 1985. Photos 975/88/85.

1987 – Opening of the QE2 Marina.

1989 – July –  Official opening of the QE2 by HM the Queen.

1991 – 23rd.January 1st.GBA Boat Show at the Carlton Hotel.  see photo in the GEP.

This event was such a huge success that it led to many more shows organised jointly with the Marine Traders Association.

1993 – 18th.February – Gsy. Boat Show – see GEP photo 399/15/93.

1993 – 70th. GBA Anniversary- GBA publishes a special handbook for members with a GUPPY cartoon.

1993 – Introduction of Paid Parking for GBA members around the marinas which was negotiated with the Board of Administration. Any surplus funds going to the GBA Benevolent Fund. (see the separate list of benefits for our GBA members on our website.)

1994 – Gsy. Boat Show at Beau Sejour-again organised by the GBA and the Marine Traders.

1994 – July – Illuminated Boat Parade for the Town Carnival.

1995 – 13th.February – Gsy. Boat Show at Beau Sejour – see GEP photos 456/10/95

1998 – GBA 75th. Anniversary. Article in GEP 21st.March.

2005 – Opening of St.Sampsons Marina.

2005 – GBA becomes a limited Company by guarantee.

The new company was registered at the Greffe under the name of the Guernsey Boatowners’ Association LBG.

During the following years the GBA continued to provide its members with advice and courses on fire prevention, first aid, engine maintenance, local pilotage trips, fishing techniques and various film shows.

Demand for more moorings continued to increase as the local leisure industry developed further.

2015 – 12th.December- see GEP article on pages 3 & 21 and photo 12516470 on same pages.

Article entitled “Albert Pier Cruise Landing – Concerns of an accident waiting to happen”.

The main concern was that this new arrangement for liner tenders to deposit their passengers at the Albert Quay was in a very congested area of the harbour. Visiting yachts, fishing trawlers, Albert & Victoria marina traffic, Pool mooring holders, rowers, dinghy sailors and power boaters launching at the Old Lifeboat Slip. However, this concern was disregarded and the Albert Quay was built.

2018 – GBA Boating Boot Sale at Beaucette Marina- a great way to dispose of unwanted boat clutter. One man’s clutter could be another man’s asset.

2020 – The Covid pandemic resulted in all boating activities being severely restricted for that summer and over the following 2 years. No visiting yachts, no usage of local boats, not being able to visit France or Jersey – all of this was to have a dramatic and damaging effect on the local marine industry.

Nothing like this had been seen since the German Occupation 80 years ago.

2021 – 19th.May. -GBA article in the GEP “Invest in harbour now otherwise we risk losing it”. ( see photo 29564004.

The GBA and the Guernsey Marine Traders expressed their support for Deputy Barry Paint’s suggested plans for extending St. Peter Port harbour to accommodate larger inter-island ferries and other commercial vessels thereby relieving the current congestion in the harbour and expanding the use of the Pool area for more local moorings and improved facilities for visiting yachts.

The Pool Marina Project has been thoroughly assessed by Guernsey Harbours and plans drawn up showing a protective wall across the harbour to allow for 200+ new local moorings and 150+ berths for visiting yachts including super yachts up to 30m in length.

The beauty of this potential income generating scheme provides 24/7 access with no tidal restrictions, space for larger leisure boats with deep drafts, and extended usage of the Victoria Marina during winter months for foreign vessels wishing to remain outside of EU waters and VAT-free tariffs.

Unfortunately the Pool Marina is unlikely to happen anytime soon because of lack of suitable finance and little political support due to other States priorities.

The difference between this development and other States projects is that this is an investment for the future economy of the Island.

Looking back over the past 100 years of our GBA existence, none of our existing marinas or even the 1850’s construction of St.Peter Port harbour evolved without considerable debate. In fact, it took nearly 25 years for the States to agree on that particular project!

But our forefathers and politicians did succeed in achieving the development of our current facilities so now it is up to all of us to encourage our future statesmen and women to do likewise.

Meanwhile, somethings haven’t changed. There is still a waiting list of 200+ for new moorings, access for loading and unloading passengers and equipment, plus parking and security for boat owners around the marinas is still a concern for the future and the setting up of the new Development Agency (GDA) and any plans for the sea front will no doubt come up for discussion amongst us all shortly.

Right now local leisure boat owners are mainly focused on the huge increases in mooring fees which the States Supervisory Board (STSB), previously known as the Board of Administration, are imposing from 1st.April 2024 ranging from 20-31% for 2024 depending on boat size. Plus plans for future charges for moorings of the same amount for 2025 and 2026 which represents total increases from 50-100%!

It remains to be seen what detrimental effect these rises may have on our marine industry. Remember, approx. 25% of the revenue and 30% of the harbours’ profits come from leisure boat mooring fees and we do have a strong influence so collectively we can make a difference.

One thing is for sure – the GBA continues to maintain the original aims and objectives of 1923 in  “fostering the interests of its members” and to act as a pressure group on the States of Guernsey to provide the necessary facilities to meet the demands of the local leisure boating industry and at an affordable price.

So, if you are reading this history of the GBA and considering becoming a member, come and join us to give us your support.

GBA Presidents 1923 – now

1923 – 1941 – Advocate Harold Randell the founder President.
1942 – 1945 – No pleasure boating during the war years.
1946 – 1947 – Jack Hart
1947 – 1949 – Kenny Bell
1949 – 1959 – Ernest J Baker
1959 – 1970 – B (Beeky) G Jones
1970 – 1971 – Idon Critchlow
1971 – 1973 – Peter Babbe
1973 – 1975 – Ernie J Baker (son of above E J Baker)
1975 – 1977 – Bas Tough
1977 – 2002 – R John Torode
2002 – 2005 – David Evans
2005 – 2009 – John D C Le Noury
2009 – 30th Nov 2015 – Peter Derham
30th Nov 2015 – to date – Nick Guillemette