Dear G.B.A. Members,
Well, none of us can complain about the weather this season.
2022 has been excellent for boating. Plenty of sunshine, no real storms and calm seas. However, most of us have kept to local waters due to on-going problems with travelling to French ports coupled with higher fuel costs due to increasing inflation.
We are so fortunate that we live amongst a group of islands. Whether visiting Herm, Sark or venturing up to Alderney or down to Jersey, the welcome we have received in all these destinations has always been very warm.
Unfortunately the Covid figures are beginning to rise again as we go into the winter period but hopefully will have reduced by next Spring. The French authorities did relax their protocols in places like St.Cast and St.Quay this summer although they have reverted back for now. Colin le Conte is keeping a watching brief on all of the French ports and I would advise all of you to visit his excellent Digimap website for the latest information before you contemplate voyaging in the direction of our Gallic friends.
Right now our most urgent problem is lack of available moorings in our local marinas.
At the time of writing this report, there are officially over 200 people on the waiting list for berths of all sizes. Whether you are hoping to upgrade your boat to a larger vessel, buying a boat for the first time, or simply down-sizing, Guernsey Harbours are desperately trying to accommodate everyone’s desires but it is a real battle. We will hear from Kieran Higgs at our AGM the latest position on this touchy subject and how he is juggling the existing infrastructure to maximise the current berthing.
So, what can we do? No doubt many of you will have heard some details on the proposals for converting the Pool into a floating 24/7 access marina facility for both local vessels and visitors. We will find out tonight at the AGM the latest update on this scheme from our harbourmaster, Capt. David Barker, and from the Project engineer, Jenny Giles.
David Norman, on behalf of the Marine Traders, and I on your behalf have attended several meetings with the consultants and planners over the past 2 years since this project was first conceived to offer our advice and ideas which we think best represent your interests and those of the Guernsey taxpayer.
This exciting project could not only provide 200+ new local moorings but also free up some marina berths as some of you may decide to move your boats into this new deep -water facility.
It would also offer over 200 berths for visiting vessels and the added protection of the new development would enable Guernsey Harbours to promote the use of the Victoria marina for wintering foreign boats on short term contracts in a VAT-free environment outside of the EU.
Guernsey used to be the No.1 destination for leisure vessels from all over Europe but statistics show these numbers have reduced during the past 30 years by 50% due to lack of facilities and modernisation.
Our economy needs schemes like this to generate much-needed income to the island. It’s not about catering for a minority section of the community, it’s about promoting Guernsey as a major player in an expanding leisure industry.
All of us, whether a boater or not, will benefit from this wise investment and the return on capital employed will cover the costs several times over.
You are I must impress upon on our States members the merits of these plans if they are to succeed and equally persuade the Guernsey public that this is also in their best interests economically.
In conclusion, thank you all for your continuing support.
As always, stay safe at sea and let’s look forward to a rosier 2023 season.