Freedom Berthing: Yet more benefits for MDL members

Posted: 16th November 2017

This year has been another fantastic year for MDL Marinas and its Freedom Berthing members, with our network expanding to 124 marinas across Europe with Passeport Escales, perfect for weekend breaks or longer adventures.

In addition to the UK and Italy, Passeport Escales allows MDL members to explore a stunning array of destinations across France, Spain and now Belgium too, all from the comfort of your own boat. With the addition of Ostend in Belgium, sailors can enjoy the varied landscapes of Europe’s Atlantic coasts, to Porto Deportivo Cangas in Spain, before heading around to our very own Sant Carles Marina on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea.

Over the last year alone our members have benefited from over 15,000 visitor nights across our European network, saving on visitor fees whilst experiencing the joys of sailing further afield. Popular destinations include Cherbourg and Jersey in the Channel and Roscoff in Brittany

From the wild, rugged coasts of the Belle-Île in Brittany, to the cultural hub of Bilbao with its impressive Guggenheim museum, Passeport Escales provides a gateway into Europe that all MDL members can enjoy.

With Freedom Berthing, our members also benefit from fuel at cost, free wifi, discounted boatyard services, great socials and the option to explore the UK’s coastline and waterways in any MDL Marina at no extra cost.

Find out more about Freedom Berthing and Passeport Escales.


Freedom Berthing and Passport Escales

MDL's Marinas release event dates for 2018

Posted: 14th November 2017

If you're a planner then we've got good news for you; grab your 2018 diaries and a cup of tea and make note of the fantastic calendar we have in store for you next year!

With members' parties, fireworks, BBQs, fishing competitions, classic car shows, boat shows and open air cinemas, there's plenty for everyone! What's more, even when there isn't a dedicated event on there's always plenty to enjoy in your local MDL marina, so if you ever find yourself at a loose end, it's always worth heading to your boat to see what's on.

See what events are happening at your local marina below, with your downloadable social calendar for 2018, or see what's happening around the network to plan your weekend trips away!

Bray Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Brixham Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Chatham Maritime Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Cobb's Quay Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Hamble Marinas 2018 Social Calendar

Hythe Marina Village 2018 Social Calendar

Northney Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Ocean Village Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Penton Hook 2018 Social Calendar

Queen Anne's Battery 2018 Social Calendar

Saxon Wharf 2018 Social Calendar

Shamrock Quay 2018 Social Calendar

Sparkes Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Torquay Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Windsor Marina 2018 Social Calendar

Woolverstone Marina 2018 Social Calendar


2018 Marina Social Events

MDL Launches Official Partnership with Beds on Board

Posted: 15th September 2017

MDL Marinas has launched a unique integrated partnership with leading online boat accommodation platform, Beds on Board, marking its continued position as a pioneer within the marine industry.

In a world-first tie-up between a marina group and a sharing economy platform, the exclusive partnership will provide MDL’s members with a fully managed service to rent out accommodation on their yachts. The platform allows holidaymakers to access unique getaway experiences in unrivalled locations across Europe, whilst offering the boat owner a tried and tested model through which to securely rent out their vessel.

Dean Smith, Commercial Director at MDL Marinas, commented: “Within the tourism industry there is a growing appetite for alternative, unique accommodation and we’re thrilled to offer our members access to this audience through our partnership with Beds on Board. The platform will offer our members a hassle-free, safe and fully-managed approach to book out accommodation on their yachts, helping our members to create additional value through their boat ownership.

“At MDL Marinas our unshakeable benchmark is to maintain a leading position within the industry, so it is essential we continue to evolve and provide access to services such as Beds on Board. Our dynamic network of marinas across the UK and Europe are situated in a variety of stunning locations, affording users of Beds on Board the opportunity to experience a stay on the water and see the local area from a novel perspective.”

Launching in 2015, Beds on Board is a peer-to-peer marketplace that allows owners to rent their boat to guests looking for an alternative to traditional accommodation, such as hotels and bed & breakfasts. Users of the site can search for boats in their desired location, before chatting to the owner through a secure Message Centre. After a stay, both the user and owner are encouraged to write reviews in order to grow trust and the community.

Co-founder of Beds on Board, Jason Ludlow, added: “This exciting partnership shows our commitment to working with the marine industry to help grow the boating community and to help owners offset their costs. We’re looking forward to working with MDL to offer their members a managed solution for renting their boat on bedsonboard.com.”

Existing MDL members can list their boats at bedsonboard.com.


Young Sailing Talent Celebrated at 30th Anniversary Sail Training Awards

Posted: 15th September 2017

Six deserving young people who won a place on the 30th Anniversary MDL Sail Training Awards voyage will be officially presented with their trophies by Eamonn Feeney, Chairman of Ocean Youth Trust South, on Tuesday 19th September at 3pm (stand E52). The youngsters returned from their trip earlier this year after spending five days at sea with the Ocean Youth Trust South, on the maiden voyage of its refurbished vessel, Prolific.

The MDL-sponsored awards, which have been running for 30 years, offer admirable young people - carefully selected due to their exceptional accomplishments, or for overcoming adverse personal circumstances – the opportunity of a lifetime aboard the training yacht. 

The passage commenced from MDL’s Ocean Village Marina and the team made their way down to Dartmouth, being taught along the way how to sail the vessel, before circling back along the coast. During sailing, the team carried out drills such as rescuing a man overboard and pilotage planning, whilst having plenty of fun in between. Upon returning to shore, the young sailors deservedly earned a ‘Royal Yachting Association Start Yachting Certificate’.

Adrien Burnand, Head of Marketing at MDL Marinas, commented: “Our Sail Training Awards are a hugely important initiative for us, which we have undertaken with Ocean Youth Trust South for an amazing 30 years. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for those selected, honouring them for their remarkable achievements at such a young age. We look forward to this day at Southampton Boat Show each year, as it’s a fantastic chance to hear all of the stories and see what an inspiration the trip has been for everyone.”

Mark Todd, Chief Executive of Ocean Youth Trust South, added: “Over the last three decades years we have met many truly inspirational young people through the MDL Sail Training Awards. Throughout the 30 years, MDL Marinas has given us tremendous support and, without them, we wouldn’t have our magnificent boat, Prolific, back in the water – so it was very fitting that they supplied so many of the young crew members for this voyage. The MDL award winners are always highly deserving and inspirational young people and this year’s winners were no exception.

“We have a long track record of using adventure under sail to give young people the skills to succeed in life – the skills that individuals, families, schools, employers and communities need – and MDL’s generosity plays a key role at the heart of all our work.”

For more information, please visit www.sailtrainingawards.co.uk.


River Canal Rescue raises 110 year-old Sgùr Urain

Posted: 31st August 2017

A 110 year-old wooden screw lugger, believed to have been originally built for the Marquis of Bute in 1907 by John Adams & Son in Greenock, was successfully raised from the depths of Bray Marina in Berkshire by River Canal Rescue (RCR) engineers recently.

Sgùr Urain - named after the battle cry of the Clan MacRae and derived from Sgurr Fuahan, one of five mountains at the base of Loch Duich - has been in current owner Simon Jones’ family since the 60s when his father, visiting Scotland on holiday, found her laid-up on the beach and bought her off a local fisherman.

Designed to navigate the lochs of Scotland, Sgùr Urain only draws four feet and was originally powered by a petrol paraffin engine, using internal ballast to balance the lug sails she would have carried for steadying out in the open sea. Her hull is constructed of 36ft lengths of splined pitch-pine with a teak deck and teak housing. As with all wooden craft, Sgùr Urain requires continual work and renovation to ensure she remains in excellent condition.

In July Simon took her out of the water to replace a section of keel. Having been out of the water for a protracted period in hot weather, when re-floated there were, as expected, a number of leaks as the wooden planks took up water to seal the dried-out hull. Despite stabilisation by bilge pumps - and the staff at Bray Marina keeping a very close watch - a failure of the pumps overnight lead to her rapid sinking whilst at her mooring before the wooden hull had become water-tight.

Simon comments: “I was advised by a diver that air bags couldn’t be used to raise the craft as there was a very high risk the pressure would cause the hull to collapse due to her shape and weight and, while a barge crane was an option, it wasn’t available for at least a couple of weeks and came at very significant cost and risk of damage. I then came across River Canal Rescue and their engineers and support team were brilliant.”

RCR used a novel technique to raise Sgùr Urain within four hours – this involved making a plywood box to put over the front access hatch to create a vacuum, sealing the boat and then using high-pressure pumps to remove the water and refloat the vessel.

Managing director, Stephanie Horton, explains: “The key to a successful refloat is in the preparation and ensuring the vessel is sealed before attempting to pump out.  Our engineers also ‘first-aided’ the engine whilst on site to prevent corrosion and ensure that it would be functional in the future.”

Simon continues: “The speed at which RCR took control of the situation was unbelievable - the engineers were practical and reassuring, they weren’t fazed by anything, they explained everything and knew exactly what to do to rescue the boat and prevent further damage to the engine.

“When you see a boat of this age in such distress, your main concern is what damage might be caused during re-floating and it was extremely reassuring to have access to such skills and expertise and an enormous relief when she was back afloat with no damage from the process. I look forward to getting her cleaned out and back to how she was.”

Roma McGurk, Duty Manager at Bray Marina, echoes these sentiments: “Sgùr Urain has been moored with us since 2009; the boat is a crucial part of our heritage so it was important to raise it with as little damage as possible. RCR certainly delivered on this and while we hope our members won’t have to call on their services again, it’s good to know their engineers are on hand to help when needed.”

Stephanie concludes: “We’re so pleased we could be of assistance to Mr Jones, our approach to this refloat managed to save him a lot of distress and expenditure.”

To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit www.rivercanalrescue.co.uk or call 01785 785680.


MDL Marinas and Ocean Youth Trust South Celebrate 30 Year Partnership

Posted: 27th April 2017

MDL Marinas and Ocean Youth Trust South have come together to celebrate an incredible 30 years of partnership, marked this month with the maiden voyage of the Trust’s new sail training vessel, Prolific. Young sailors from across the south of England took part in the intensive voyage, which included six inspirational young people who were chosen as worthy winners of MDL Marinas’ annual Sail Training Awards.

OYT South is a Hampshire-based charity which specialises in using an ‘Adventure Under Sail’ concept to help young people develop confidence and the essential problem solving skills needed to succeed in life. MDL Marinas and OYT first came together in 1987 to create the Sail Training Awards, which recognise the outstanding efforts of young people who have faced exceptional challenges, or have gone above and beyond to support others.

Three decades later and the annual awards are still going strong. This year’s MDL winners included George Hopwood, Ciaran Robinson and Alexandra Corrigan, all from Hampshire; Adam Gianfrancesco from Surrey and Rachel Mosley from Torquay.

The maiden voyage of Prolific saw 11 young people in total take to the Solent for a rigorous four-day sailing trip. The passage commenced from MDL’s Ocean Village Marina and the team made their way down to Dartmouth, being taught along the way how to sail the vessel, before circling back along the coast. During sailing, the team carried out drills such as rescuing a man overboard and pilotage planning, whilst having plenty of fun in between. Upon returning to shore, the young sailors deservedly earned a ‘Royal Yachting Association Start Yachting Certificate’.

Adrien Burnand, Head of Marketing at MDL Marinas, said: “Everyone involved in the transformation of Prolific has been eagerly awaiting its maiden voyage, and it’s fantastic that such a worthy team of young sailors marked the first passage. Combined that this is our 30th year of partnership with OYT, the sailing was a truly special experience. Our Sail Training Award winners were chosen for their inspirational attitudes and commitment to supporting others. It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime trip for those selected, honouring them for their remarkable achievements at such a young age.

“Over the last 30 years, the MDL sponsored Sail Training Awards have provided over 150 young people the opportunity to experience a trip on-board John Laing, Prolific’s predecessor, something which has been life-changing for some of our past winners. We are proud to continue to support OYT South with Prolific and the important work that it carries out.”

OYT South Staff Skipper, Andy Viney, commented: “We had a fantastic group of young people for Prolific’s first voyage with the charity, and we were absolutely delighted to be joined by the MDL award winners on this memorable trip. For the last 30 years MDL Marinas has given us tremendous support and, without them, we wouldn’t have this magnificent boat back in the water – so it was very fitting that they supplied so many of the young crew members for this voyage.

“The MDL award winners are always highly deserving and inspirational young people and this year’s winners were no exception. This week has been a great start to Prolific’s sailing career and we are all looking forward to offering more outstanding voyages, in partnership with MDL, as the season goes on.”

Rachel Mosley, one of the young MDL sailors who took part in the voyage, added: “I want to thank MDL Marinas and OYT South for the opportunity to take part in the sailing trip. I thoroughly enjoyed the week and it's really opened my eyes to sailing. The experience has given me the opportunity to go back as a junior boson and learn more about the boat and how the sea staff look after it and keep it running. Thank you again for the amazing opportunity.”

Prolific was bought by the charity in 2015 and has spent eighteen months undergoing a refit and modifications, with close support and sponsorship from MDL Marinas, ensuring it would sail safely and effectively for young people aged between 12 and 25. Prolific provides the opportunity for all to sail onboard, from keen and competent young sailors looking for real adventure, through to vulnerable and disadvantaged people who might never expected the chance to sail.

To see Prolific in action please visit the following link: https://youtu.be/TQ2Elp8AJvw. Further information about OYT South can be found at www.oytsouth.org/charity.asp.


Spring forward to the new season with our exclusive Freedom Berthing pack

Posted: 31st March 2017

We’re so excited that Spring is finally here, marking the start of another great season of boating. To kick off the new season, we’ve put together an exciting Freedom Berthing pack to thank you, our loyal members, for berthing with us, as well as introduce new boating enthusiasts to all that MDL Marinas has to offer.

We’ve included a host of gifts to get you started for the new season including, a tide table booklet to assist you with your UK cruising, and your choice of:

  • A set of 4 high-quality unbreakable clear wine glasses for relaxing at sea or in the marina.
  • A Royal Yachting Association (RYA) log book to record your travels.
  • Reeds Almanac 2017. Covering the UK, Ireland and the west coast of Europe from Denmark to Gibraltar.
  • The River Thames Book. Covering the Thames Barrier to Cricklade with the River Wey, Basingstoke Canal and the Kennet and Avon Canal to Great Bedwyn.


Along with a luxury hessian ‘bag for life’ to carry all of your goodies.

There’s also a host of exclusive benefits available for Freedom Berthing members in 2017/18, giving you access to over 100 holidays in the UK, France, Spain and Italy, fuel at cost so you can explore further, and free unlimited WiFi so you can stay connected all year round. We hope you make full use of your benefits this season and we’d love to hear about your adventures. Share your photographs to your social media using the hashtags #MDLRelax, #MDLEnjoy and #MDLDiscover.

With Easter just around the corner, and lots of ‘egg-citing’ events going on at our marinas, we thought it was the perfect time to collect your Freedom Berthing pack. So please pop into the marina office over the Easter weekend and you may even get an Easter treat!

There’s lots to look forward too…

Come and experience our marinas this Easter!


MDL set for Bermuda as Land Rover BAR's Official Marina Partner

Posted: 8th March 2017

MDL Marinas, Europe’s leading marina operator and official marina partner to Land Rover BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing), is helping the team gear up for the 35th America’s Cup, which is destined for a climactic finale in Bermuda this summer. MDL has worked closely with Land Rover BAR to help set up their team base in Bermuda and has created customised pontoons, expertly designed to give swift access for the team and accommodate the crucial support boats.

Alongside the existing partnership, which has seen MDL Marinas involved in the Portsmouth Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series (the preliminary series to the 35th America’s Cup), as an official Engagement Partner, the marina operator has designed custom-made pontoons tailored to the racing conditions in Bermuda. Using innovative, industry-leading technology, the pontoon has the ability to rotate 90∘, which will allow Land Rover BAR to berth the boat in all wind directions and stay attached to the shore, instead of having to have the boat on a swing mooring. The pontoon was constructed in Southampton and has travelled 3,400 miles to reach Bermuda, where it is now undergoing trial as part of the team’s intensive training programme.

The extensive design stages were started at the beginning of 2016, with the pontoons being completed and shipped by the end of the year. They are now fully installed in Bermuda, ready for the summer competition to begin. The competition so far has been a high adrenaline cinematic whirlwind, gaining international attention and reaching a crescendo last year, with Sir Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR winning the overall Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Japan, as well as the team’s home event in Portsmouth in 2016. 

Adrien Burnand, Head of Marketing at MDL Marinas, commented: “Open sea racing is unpredictable and fast paced, so implementing equipment which saves even a second can make all the difference. MDL Marinas has worked closely with the Land Rover BAR team in what has been a new but exciting challenge, and we can’t wait to see the pontoons in action this summer. The America’s Cup is the Formula 1 of the sailing world and it’s going to be an epic finale, both MDL and our customers are counting down the days until the action starts once again!”

James Stagg, Shore Team Manager, at Land Rover BAR, added: “The America’s Cup is all about looking at advances in technology to help gain a competitive advantage. We wanted to see if we could create a pivoting pontoon to enable us to berth the race boat in any wind direction to reduce boat loading times, so we came together with MDL Marinas to put this concept into motion. Together we’ve designed and built a tool which is tailored to the team’s racing needs and the finished product looks fantastic. It will all come down to the race days but it’s been brilliant partnering with MDL Marinas on this element of the campaign.”

To watch MDL's innovative pontoon in action, please click here.


Nominations Open For This Year’s MDL Sail Training Awards

Posted: 8th February 2017

MDL Marinas is excited to open nominations for this year’s Sail Training Awards, which will see a group of deserving young people set sail in April on Ocean Youth Trust South’s sail training vessel, Prolific. These young people will be carefully selected for their exceptional accomplishments, or for overcoming adverse personal circumstances.

The winners will spend six nights living and sailing on the charity’s new acquisition and will become involved in all aspects of life on board, including hoisting sails, helping with maintenance, sailing the boat at night and cooking and cleaning with the rest of the crew. This is an unforgettable sailing experience, departing from and returning to Southampton in April 2017.

If you know a young person aged between 12 and 18, who you feel should be rewarded for their achievements or are an inspiration and support to others, nominations are open until Saturday 25th February. Anyone can make a nomination, from youth group leaders, teachers, friends or employers.

Past winners have included young people who have been outstanding achievers, as well as those who have been involved in voluntary work, those who have never had the chance to travel abroad, or have added family responsibilities. Winners will be selected from MDL’s UK marina locations in the South West, Dorset, Hampshire, Thames Valley and East Coast.

Dean Smith, Operations and Marketing Director at MDL Marinas, commented: “We’re delighted to welcome back our hugely popular Sail Training Awards. It’s always a difficult decision to choose the group of young people who will take part in this once-in-a-lifetime trip, however we’re looking forward to seeing the fantastic entries!

Over the past 29 years, the MDL sponsored Sail Training Awards have provided over 150 young people the opportunity to experience a trip on board the John Laing, something which has been life-changing for some of our past winners. This year’s awards will see the launch of Ocean Youth Trust South’s new vessel, Prolific, and those chosen for this exciting trip will be the first training team on her. We’re proud to continue to support Ocean Youth Trust South and the important work that they carry out.”

For more information and to nominate, please visit www.sailtrainingawards.co.uk.


London Boat Show Closes with a Royal Wave

Posted: 18th January 2017

As the 2017 London Boat Show comes to a close, we would like to say a big thank you to all of our new and existing customers who visited our stand this year! It was great to welcome so many members and visitors, we hope you had a fantastic time and enjoyed our hospitality, and we look forward to seeing you at one of our marinas very soon.

It was an action packed 10 days and our newly located, bigger stand was the perfect base to showcase our extensive network of over 100 marinas as well as our fantastic Freedom Berthing package, which proved very popular!

Many visitors enjoyed getting stuck in with our ‘Cleat Challenge’ and we will be in touch with our three winners to present them with a Henri Lloyd jacket for their fastest rope cleating time!

An absolute highlight of the show was a visit to our stand from Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, where we shared industry insight and discussed MDL’s ongoing evolution. The show also saw two of our marinas recognised in the Marina of the Year Awards, which was a fantastic way to close another brilliant London Boat Show.

We are already looking forward to the Southampton Boat Show in September!


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