What have fishing, cakes and mysterious celebrity lookalikes got in common? In this case they were all things which our network organised to raise money for our chosen charities. Between us, we’ve raised over £9,000 – a fantastic achievement.
We’ve had so much fun raising the money: here are just a few of the highlights.
Cobbs Quay Marina’s fundraising activities over the past 12 months included a fishing competition, a golf day and a summer party raffle. Members and staff raised a brilliant £3,133 for Julia’s House. This is a children’s hospice which provides practical and emotional support for families caring for a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition.
Torquay Marina raised a wonderful £2,025 for 2 Mikes 1 Boat. This was achieved with a wealth of activities including raffling a giant Easter Egg, and donating all stall pitch fees on Marina Day, plus charging for having photographs taken with a celebrity lookalike. (Hint: it wasn’t the real Stig). 2 Mikes 1 Boat is an epic rowing adventure where two men, named Mike, will row across the Atlantic in aid of Prostate Cancer UK and the StandUp Foundation which tackles bullying. The 2 Mikes journey begins in December 2018.
Over £380 was raised for Macmillan Cancer when Shamrock Quay hosted a Great British Bake Off. Cakes were crafted by members and marina staff and the delicious products were enjoyed by all (including a few Paul Hollywood lookalikes) while supporting the charity which campaigns for better cancer care.
The team at Ocean Village Marina raised £170 for The Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity, and £50 for Prostate Cancer UK from collection tins located within the Ocean Village Marina office.
And lastly, Queen Anne’s Battery Marina raised over £500 with a summer members party - all in aid of the Plymouth RNLI.
At TheYachtmarket.com Southampton Boat Show, we also raised £3,000, to be split between the Blue Marine Foundation and Ocean Youth Trust South. MDL members and guests bought tickets for a daily raffle featuring prizes such as Crewfit 180N Pro lifejacket from Crewsaver and a spa package courtesy of Towergate Insurance, as well as many other terrific prizes from other sponsors such as Mistral Hayling Ltd., Clean2Gleam, Salcombe Gin, West System International, Hamble Point Yacht Charters, and Musto. Members also donated money for refreshments during a daily charity hour.
There are lots of activities which take place all year round. Find out more about your marina’s social calendar, and other events, by visiting their social media pages.
After 12 months in its new 4,200 square foot premises, Pinnacle Performance is in peak condition. In Winter 2017, the gym moved into larger premises in Hamble Point Marina. It wasn’t a big move in terms of distance, but it’s meant that the client base has been able to expand dramatically over the past 12 months.
“We originally came to Hamble Point Marina,” says Andy McGhee joint owner, “to specialise in marine sports performance. We predominantly worked with sailors and canoeists from all levels including Olympians, Para-Olympians, world class, amateur and recreational sailors. But when we got here in 2014 we were delighted to discover that our facilities were soon being used by a much wider pool of people. Then we grew and grew until we were bursting at the seams.”
The decision was taken to find larger premises on the marina and luckily one came up for grabs shortly after.
Now in its new location, the front of the gym sports a row of proud yachts out of water for the winter, on the other is the stunning Solent, making it the ideal location for outdoor training too. And the gym’s surrounded by marine businesses including chandleries, yacht brokers and a great place to eat, the Ketch Rigger.
The current building took hundreds of man hours to prepare as it was originally built as a marine workshop and was used for marine engineering. The specialist flooring needed to be laid and a mezzanine with an office and a physiotherapy /nutritionist consult room added. But these hours of hard work paid off, reflecting the same values as using the gym itself.
The ethos at Pinnacle is standard across the board, whatever your size, shape or needs. Each individual is offered training support as a gym member, or a range of bespoke packages to really move their body transformation forward.
“We have staff from different areas of sport such as duathlons, sprinting, powerlifting, sailing, and strongman, who apply their skills in training. Clients experience an integrated approach with our nutritionist, it’s more like a performance centre, sharing our knowledge to help our clients.”
Andy’s team are devolving the knowledge they’ve already shared with crew members from teams such as Oracle USA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Mapfre and more.
“When we’re training sailors we start with analysis of their crew role for example a bow-man, trimmer or grinder, and then look at what they need for that role, and what we need to help them with. That could be developing their core or upper body strength, or their grinding power. We know how to work the body harder and even though we can’t really recreate the conditions of the boat in the gym, we keep PT static, safe and relevant to their needs.”
You can tell that Andy has a military background by the use of the word PT (physical training), which peppers his conversation whether he’s talking about training elite athletes, members of the local community who want to shape-up, or anyone in between. That Army background shines through with the organisation of the different packages which have been carefully structured to give clients what they need to achieve their goals. From 1-2-1, 1-2-2 to 1-2-4, general membership, yoga, pilates, and a running club that pounds its way around the marina, Pinnacle Performance is a ‘no TV and 100% focused gym’ with plenty of parking.
“The hardest part is stepping across the threshold,” says Andy. “Once you’ve done that, you’re in the family, and we will train you up to be the very best version of yourself.” And, for those staying at the marina on a short-term break, it’s £5 for the first one-off session, and then £10 for each subsequent thereafter.
Open seven days a week 6-9 Mon/Fri and 8-4 Sat/Sun.
Workshop 7, Firefly Road, Hamble Point Marina SO31 4NB. Telephone 023 8017 2520.
There’s no need for the end of the summer to be the end of your sailing season says Jake Kavanagh, yachting journalist. If you follow these top tips, you’ll be comfortable whatever the weather brings.
Why put the boat ashore when there is so much great cruising to be had during the winter? Many berth-holders are now opting to keep the boat afloat from November onwards, and only have a brief lift out in early spring to scrub-off and change the anodes.
As one sailing instructor remarks: “With modern clothing, great insulation and blown-air heating systems, there is no real end to the boating season.”
Extending the boating season is one of MDL Marinas’ specialties as its extensive network offers some really attractive winter berthing packages, with fully serviced pontoons allowing a boat to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Dry stack customers are particularly good at making the most of a sunny winter’s day, as one phone call has the boat afloat and waiting for them as soon as they arrive at the marina.
The speed of service means that when settled weather arrives, those crisp, sunny days can be exploited to the full, even though the daylight is relatively short. It’s been known for UK boaters to go sailing in T-shirts in January when a clear sky allows the sun’s radiant energy to warm the decks, with perhaps a gentle southerly breeze wafting up from the Sahara. As winter boaters cruise along the coastline, they will find popular summer anchorages largely deserted, harbour moorings plentiful, and vast expanses of water with not another boat in sight.
So although daylight hours are shorter the spirit of exploration and adventure can remain the same, especially if owners take advantage of schemes like MDL’s Freedom Berthing. This offers complimentary stays in over 120 marinas in the UK, France, Italy and Spain allowing passages between marinas during the short hours of daylight before enjoying all the comforts of home at your destination.
Here are some top tips to get the most from your boat with off-season cruising:
1: Have the right clothing
Most boat owners already have a good set of wet weather gear, but it pays to invest in a layered system underneath. Many manufacturers have their own dedicated system of breathable fabrics for maximum effect. Several thin layers beneath a fully waterproof outer layer are much better at trapping heat than a couple of thick ones. Most heat is lost through the head, so don’t forget a comfortable wooly hat!
2: Keep a well-stocked galley
Winter sailing requires regular hot food and drinks, especially on a longish passage. One-pot meals are always popular, and usually comprise of tinned ingredients that can be poured into a pan, heated quickly, and served in a bowl so it stays warm in an exposed cockpit. There are plenty of good cookbooks that suggest these instant meals.
3: Switch to propane
Boaters who cruise all year round – or who are planning a blue water adventure - often change their cooking gas from butane to a propane system instead. This is because propane has a higher calorific value and freezes at a very respectable minus 40oC, whereas butane succumbs at just minus 4oC. If there was an overnight frost, the butane in the regulator would freeze and there would be no gas until it had thawed. Propane, however, will still light easily, even if the sea itself has iced over! Most cookers will happily use either gas, although a different regulator will be needed. Long range cruisers often carry both types of bottle and regulator to cover their options.
4: Keep those fingers warm
Cold fingers stop working very quickly; not good when it comes to handling ropes. Invest in a good pair of gloves, and keep those extremities warm. Fingerless gloves are a sort of compromise in summer, but ideally the finger tips should be protected at all times in cold weather. A mitten works well, as you can still steer, throttle and wind winches, but the hand can be easily slipped out of it for tasks requiring more dexterity.
5: Embrace the hot water bottle
The hot water bottle is a major asset afloat. Choose a fleece-lined one, and keep it tucked under your jacket to warm the inner core. Also great at night – as the thicker the bottle’s coat, the hotter the water you can use and the longer it will stay warm. They are great around your feet under the duvet if you haven’t got a heating system.
6: Why not fit blown air heating?
Talking of which, why not fit a blown air heater? Arguably the safest way of heating a boat, it is free from potential carbon exhaust emissions within the cabin. (Running the gas stove all night is highly dangerous, unless there is excellent ventilation, which rather defeats the object.) A blown air heater burns small amounts of diesel from the boat’s main tank, with the combustion gasses exhausted over the side. A small electric motor then drives the hot air from a heat exchanger throughout the accommodation. A good tip is to insulate the heating duct between outlets, and to reduce the diameter of the duct as it travels further from the heater to maintain velocity. (The duct can be left un-insulated as it passes through hanging lockers to help damp clothing to dry). Check out products from manufacturers such as Eberspacher and Webasto, to name just two, with prices highly competitive due to the volumes made for the trucking and RV industries.
7: Indulge in a luxury sleeping bag
Warm bedding will make a big difference to your comfort afloat, so look for winter sleeping bags or duvets with a high tog rating. This rating is a measure of thermal insulation, and the higher the number, the warmer you will be. A lightweight summer duvet, for example, will have a tog rating of between 3.0 to 4.5. A spring/autumn-weight duvet will score between 7.5 to 10.5tog, and the one you will want for mid-winter will be between 12.0 to 13.5.
8: Run a dehumidifier
Condensation can be a problem in the winter months, especially when the warm air inside the boat meets the windows. With little insulation from single-pane glass (although you can make insulated covers) the cold air outside promotes condensation and can cause annoying runs. The same thing can happen on uninsulated headlinings.
If you are taking advantage of MDL’s Freedom Berthing, you can expect to connect to shorepower every night and run a small dehumidifier. These inexpensive machines strip all the excess water from the air and transfer it to a built-in reservoir, whilst some can drain directly into the galley sink. It is best to get a reputable make, and keep an eye on it, as some cheaper ones have been known to burn out if used excessively. Even a relatively small unit will make a big difference aboard and some 12-24V versions are also available for use at anchor.
9: Get the most from Freedom Berthing
MDL’s complimentary berthing scheme allows you to check out marinas in the UK and participating marinas in southern Europe with a series of free visits. In addition, some of MDL’s marinas have partnered with hotels ashore, such as Southampton’s Ocean Village and the 5-star Harbour Hotel within the marina complex. If your partner is reluctant to sail in the midst of winter, then a stay ashore in such luxury should make a chilly sail worthwhile.
Plus, when you use MDL’s network, you’ll benefit from 24/7 marina staff and security, and great onsite restaurant and bars. All the marinas are experienced with looking after off-season cruisers, and offer warm showers, warm clubhouses and a warm welcome.
10: Don’t forget to take pictures
The winter offers some dramatic seascapes, with brooding skies, glassy reflections and spectacular sunsets. For those who hate getting up early, then the late sunrise is rarely missed. Keep your phone and camera handy, as the winter offers some excellent photo opportunities. If you are into astronomy, then crisp clear winter nights reveal the magnificence of the Milky Way and other northern constellations away from the light pollution of towns and cities.
11. Keep the tender available
The downside of a winter cruise is that some of the summer services, such as a water taxi, may not be available. Make sure your tender is accessible and easy to deploy, as this will allow you access to the shore when you have no choice but to anchor off. However, such will be the lack of crowds that some quayside pubs and restaurants may also throw in alongside overnight berthing even through they usually have strict time limits during the summer. The dinghy is also a great way to go creek crawling, and explore those places you missed during the season. But if you’re staying at an MDL marina you obviously won’t need a tender as you can step straight from boat to pontoon.
12: Take a course
Many sea schools do a brisk trade off-season as students like being able to practice their skills in empty harbours and anchorages. There are very few onlookers, and plenty of room to manoeuvre. Another big advantage is the short daylight, allowing them to practice night navigation for several hours and still manage to get back in time for a leisurely pub supper. Prices are generally cheaper, too, and will allow new boaters to gain confidence and skills before the busy summer season. MDL marinas always has a list of approved RYA sea schools available, with many operating out of each marina. Ask the dockmaster who they can recommend. Or visit www.mdlmarinas.co.uk/services-directory
And that’s it. You’ve invested a lot of money in your boat, so make the most of it by enjoying every fine day during the winter.
We’re delighted to support marine activities wherever we can and can’t wait to award a total of 15 prizes in the 37th Hamble Winter Series. The series is well underway and continues until December this year. It’s a popular, competitive and fun event, based in the central Solent and organised by the Hamble River Sailing Club. It attracts in the region of 150 entries every year with well over 1,000 sailors expected to take part, many of whom enjoy berths at one of our three Hamble marinas.
The racing started on the 6th October with teams racing in IRC Classes and One Designs. The action-packed programme features the IRC Autumn Championship, the Performance 40 Series, the Hamble Big Boat Championship, the Hamble One Design Championship, and J/70 World Qualifiers.
On Sunday 28th October, we’ll be awarding five vouchers for free hull scrubs for those coming in first, five 50%-off scrub vouchers for those coming in second, and five bottles of wines for those placing third in classes 0-4.
We’re looking forward to seeing many of our members compete from across our Solent network: Hamble Point Marina, Port Hamble Marina, Mercury Yacht Harbour, Ocean Village Marina, Hythe Marina Village, Sparkes Marina, Northney Marina, Shamrock Quay and Saxon Wharf.
Maintaining an exemplary marina which offers an efficient service is the utmost priority for all marina managers. Much of the work at a marina takes place under the surface and MDL Marinas is using comprehensive methods to maintain its marinas, particularly through its annual dredging strategy. During the 2017/18 season MDL dredged in excess of 48,000 m3 (63,000 tonnes) of material across its marinas, enough to fill nearly 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools. In contrast, 2018/19’s season will be a record breaker with an estimated 70,000 m3 (91,000 tonnes) of material requiring dredging across nine sites, the largest maintenance dredge campaign in the history of MDL Marinas. This substantial volume results from a number of marinas that require infrequent dredging (every 3-5 years or more) coinciding at the same time. In-house expert and Project Manager at MDL Marinas, Dr. Ben Carroll, shares his insight into the art of dredging and why this is an essential practice for all marinas.
Ben comments: “Marinas across the world are, for the most part, subject to constant siltation and many require regular dredging to maintain water depths, which ensures boats don’t run aground and have safe access when mooring. The pattern and scale of siltation at any given marina will depend on a unique range of physical factors, which will inherently differ between sites. Therefore, the dredging requirement of any two marinas will never be the same.
“MDL Marinas is the UK’s leading marina operator, with 18 marinas positioned in the UK. With this vast portfolio, dredging across the MDL network is an ongoing priority to ensure we continue to provide a second to none berthing and holiday experience. Each year MDL invests up to £1million into its dredging strategy, dependent upon the requirements across the marina group. Executing a comprehensive dredging programme in seamless conjunction with our additional services is a key factor to ensuring MDL offers a competitive and world-leading marina portfolio for boaters to enjoy.
“In many respects, dredging is seen as a necessary evil, with a degree of disruption inevitable when operating large mechanical equipment within a confined marina basin. Due care must be taken to ensure no damage occurs to customer boats or the marina infrastructure, whilst also minimising any potential disruption to marina activities. In order to minimise disruption, we always schedule the MDL dredging campaign for the winter period, between November and March, when the marina is usually quieter. However, one potential challenge of a winter dredge campaign is the risk of delay due to bad weather, whereby disposals to sea are hindered. This should always be factored in when undertaking a winter dredging programme and contingency plans should be considered in the event of unpredictable weather.
“The path to undertaking dredging requires meticulous planning as there are strict legislative requirements to adhere to. The first step of planning is the granting of a marine licence from the Marine Management Organisation, which permits dredging and disposal activities. A marine licence can typically take between six and twelve months to come through, dependent upon the nature of the project, application requirements – which includes environmental assessments - and outcome of public consultation.
“Once a marine licence is in place, the planning of the annual dredge campaign usually starts in June, when hydrographic surveys are arranged for marinas subject to high levels of siltation. These surveys provide an invaluable picture of the existing depths across the marinas and allow MDL to review potential dredge requirements. The hydrographic surveys also enable us to identify short to medium-term patterns in siltation across each marina, allowing us to plan dredging in future years more accurately.
“Dredging at MDL Marinas in the Solent region is carried out by a single contractor, whilst elsewhere it is tendered separately to a number of contractors. Dredging tends to start in early November, typically at Cobb's Quay in Poole and then moves in an easterly direction towards Northney and Sparkes marinas in Chichester, completed by March. Once the dredging has been completed, a second hydrographic survey is undertaken to ensure the target depths have been reached.”
We’re delighted to announce a great package of winter offers across our extensive marina network, offering boat owners excellent quality and great value berthing, dry stack, lifting and storage packages. With these winter offers, boat owners can put their minds at ease as the nights draw in.
Highlights of the offers include savings of up to 40% on winter scrubs and storage ashore at a number of boatyards including Hythe Marina Village in Southampton and Queen Anne's Battery in Plymouth. Great-value short term berthing is available in the finest UK marinas, including the chance to enjoy three months berthing from just £649 at Shamrock Quay in Southampton, available on boats up to 8m.
“It’s very important to keep your boat well maintained, especially during the winter season when it tends to be used less frequently and is most at risk from adverse weather conditions,” says Adrien Burnand, MDL’s head of marketing.
“Our lifting and storage packages give owners the chance to carry out essential maintenance work and prepare their boat for next season. For those seeking a safe and secure home for their boat during the winter months, our berthing packages give peace of mind with boats looked after around the clock. We’re always keen to welcome new members too. Offers like these are a great way to come aboard our network, experience our renowned customer service and get a really good feel about what we offer. Once owners have taken advantage of a winter deal, we’re very happy to talk to them about what we can offer year-round.”
Read more about our full range of winter offers.