It was wonderful to see so many of you celebrating the start of the new season during the Easter weekend. Even if the weather wasn’t entirely spring-like for everyone, waterside treats from the Easter bunny and a steady stream of hot cross buns emerging from the dock offices certainly set the mood.
What’s more, with a packed schedule of events on and off the water this summer, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to burn off any excess calories all those chocolate eggs.
Here are a few shots of the Easter bunny dishing out treats to members at Torquay (including one young sailor who exchanged all her dummies for an Easter egg!) and Queen Anne’s Battery. The office at Ocean Village was packed with around 50 members who called in to toast the new season with friends old and new.
With winter finally, if reluctantly, giving way to spring, we’re excited about a fantastic summer of cruising and events.
The teams have been hard at work getting the marinas ready. The winter dredging programme is wrapped up – with a £1million investment every year, it’s no small undertaking. In 2016, enough material was dredged to fill more than 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The upgrade at Ocean Village is continuing, with a smart new look and members already enjoying the spa, gym, restaurants and bars at the luxurious Harbour Hotel on the waterfront. At Cobb’s Quay, a new a 40 ton hoist has been installed, meaning larger boats can now be accommodated.
As you’d expect, we’ve been planning our social calendar with as much attention to detail! Big news for this year is Marina Day on June 9th. After the enormous success of the inaugural family open day event at our Sant Carles marina in Spain in 2015 – the popular celebration spread to marinas across Spain within two years – we’re bringing the fiesta to the UK. It’ll be a day of music, food, fun on the water and entertainment into the evening. Don’t miss it.
Just a few of the other social highlights this year include ‘dress as you please day’ at Ocean Village in June (with prizes, of course!), outdoor film nights in July and August at Northney, adventure golf complete with cream teas at Hythe in June, the British Firework Championships at Queen Anne’s Battery in August and a beer and wine festival in September at Bray.
We’re looking forward to welcoming you, do pop into the site offices to say hello and don’t forget to make the most of your Freedom Berthing membership to visit other marinas in the group this season – and maybe even complete the set!
Helping the next generation to discover the joys of life on the water is something MDL is passionate about. For over 20 years, we’ve supported the Ocean Youth Trust (OYT) South, a wonderful charity that gives hundreds of vulnerable and disadvantaged young people their first taste of sailing.
On May 13th, to raise vital funds, an MDL team will be running (and possibly struggling) around the grounds of Broadlands House outside Romsey in Hampshire for the third annual Romsey Relay Marathon.
Our team is made up of engineers, a HR administrator, our head of marketing and two directors. Team members have varying degrees of running experience, from marathon veterans to complete newbies.
Dan, Ollie, Adrien, Jo, Dean, Jane, Mike and Ben will each run a 2.6 mile leg of the course, competing alongside 130 other teams.
We’d love your support to help us reach our fundraising target of £1,000 and continue to support OYT South and all the incredible work they do. Sponsor us here.
For more information about the charity, visit their website at www.oytsouth.org
Those participating are: Dan Chamberlain (Marina Development Advisor), Oliver Witt (Projects Assistant), Adrien Burnand (Head of Marketing), Jo Meekley (Project Manager - Civils & Marine), Dean Smith (Commercial Director), Jane Whitcher (Payroll & HR Administrator), Mike Glanville (Director of Operations) and Dr Ben Carroll (Assistant Project Manager).
You could WIN a romantic getaway for two in our luxury Woolverstone Lodges by sharing your #LoveIsOnTheWater photos with us on Facebook. Before the winner is announced for that, find out what our marina teams are offering our members for Valentine's Day…
Brixham Marina - Pop into the marina office anytime during Valentine's Day for a sugary pick up of love hearts and chocolate.
Chatham Maritime Marina - Between 6 and 8pm on Valentine's Day, pop into the marina office for a heart shaped chocolate and a glass of bubbly…
Cobb's Quay Marina - For a sweet treat, enjoy some chocolates with the marina team anytime on Valentine's Day.
Hamble Marinas - All day Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, catch up with the marina team over a glass of bubbly and chocolates.
Queen Anne's Battery - Hold out for good weather as QAB are planning on hosting bubbly on the pontoons! If the weather isn't good, then the bubbles will be served in the warmth and dry of the marina office. Either way anytime between 1-3pm on Valentine's Day be sure to head to QAB!
Sparkes Marina - On Hayling Island, bubbles will be available in the marina throughout Valentine's Day.
Thames Marinas - Enjoy coffee and chocolates with the teams in the marina offices of Bray, Penton Hook and Windsor.
Woolverstone Marina - For sweet treats and bubbly head over to the marina office on Valentine's Day.
… It's in good food and good company. Which is why we've brought you a list of restaurant offers, from across the network, to help make sure you've got your Valentine's Day plans covered.
Whether you want to make the most of having your boat within walking distance of the restaurant or fancy a romantic jaunt along to another one of our marinas using your free visitor nights, here's what's going on around MDL Marinas…
Port Hamble Marina, Hamble, Southampton - In the heart of the marina, Banana Wharf adds a touch of the exotic to the Solent waters. With a special Valentine's Day menu, be sure not to miss out by contacting them here.
Hythe Marina Village, Hythe, Southampton - From February 13th to 17th La Vista at Hythe is offering a special menu; even for those who can't make the day there's still opportunities to make the most of time with your Valentine… Book today!
Ocean Village Marina, Southampton - With a host of restaurants there's something for all palates, from Bacaro's Valentine's Day Tapas to Southampton Harbour Hotel's Jetty with a four-course meal, bubbly and entertainment, and not forgetting Banana Wharf's a la carte menu. Click on the links to see what's on offer!
Chatham Maritime Marina, Chatham - The ever-popular Ship & Trades is a short walking distance from the marina and is offering couples a romantic meal for two with delicious specials, a glass of bubbly, a single stemmed rose and romantic setting. If this sounds like your idea of romance contact them to find out more.
Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Southampton - Overlooking the marina, and with a great choice of food and drink, Ketch Rigger will be offering a Sunday carvery if you're short of time during the week, book on their webpage here.
Of course, many of our marinas have fantastic restaurants in their nearby towns too, our marina teams can make great suggestions, so be sure to ask if you want more ideas!
On top of our incredible locations and fantastic restaurants and bars, find out more about the other benefits to Freedom Berthing and membership. Or if you're thinking about joining us, you can get a quote today!
Dream Yacht Charter, based at MDL's Port Hamble Marina, has grown to become the largest yacht charter company in the world, with a fleet of 987 boats across the most destinations with 47 bases.
The company started out with just six boats operating from the Seychelles seventeen years ago, and now thousands of customers are turning dreams into reality with all-inclusive sailing experiences or navigating new destinations while at the helm.
Dream Yacht Charter founder, Loic Bonnet, said: “This is such an achievement as we started out small with some pretty big ideas! We are expecting our growth to continue with additions to our fleet for next year.
“We’re proud to be known for our pioneering approach, opening up new cruising grounds, such as Cuba and New Caledonia, and making sailing accessible to non-sailors through new experiences, such as booking cabins on crewed charters.”
This year has been unprecedented for the yacht charter industry following the severity of the hurricane season in the Caribbean.
Loic added: “The reason we’ve been able to return quickly to the Caribbean is because of the size of our fleet and our worldwide network. It was great to see the first charters going out from the British Virgin Islands and St. Martin earlier last month.”
For more information, please visit www.dreamyachtcharter.co.uk.
Last year we announced an exciting collaboration with the Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), Land Rover BAR and the University of Portsmouth to restore native oysters to local waters. Our aim was to introduce one million oysters by the end of 2017 to help clear up the Solent.
Following a successful trial at the Land Rover BAR pontoon, plans were made to continue towards the one million oyster target by the end of this year. To launch the project’s roll-out across our solent marinas, we welcomed broadcaster, traveller and adventurer, Ben Fogle to our Port Hamble Marina to launch the project.
As someone who spends a lot of his time immersed in nature, protecting the environment is very important to Ben: “My experiences traversing the world’s oceans have opened my eyes to the scale of marine destruction. The humble oyster is an incredibly powerful ecosystem engineer, capable of filtering 200 litres of water a day and supporting marine life. Restoring the native oyster to the Solent would be another step closer to turning the tide against the large-scale degradation of our oceans, and giving something back to the UK’s inshore waters which provide us with so many benefits.”
The native oyster population in the UK has halved over the last 25 years. The restoration of the native oyster will provide ecological and social benefits for the region by helping to improve water quality, foster valuable habitats which are otherwise being lost to future generations and re-establish an important strand of the economy on the south coast.
The oysters are housed in unique cage-like structures, designed and built by MDL Marinas, which are suspended off pontoons in Hamble Point, Port Hamble, Sparkes and Saxon Wharf, as well as pontoons at the University of Portsmouth and the pontoon installed by MDL Marinas at Land Rover BAR HQ.
BLUE is leading a coalition of fishermen, marine and local authorities, scientists and conservationists to significantly increase the population of native oysters by 2020, with the long-term aim of achieving sustainable stocks, improving the quality of water in the Solent, as well as benefiting the ecosystem and inshore fisheries.
MDL is proud to be involved in this innovative CSR initiative and we are looking at rolling this scheme out around the MDL Marinas network. Dean Smith, Commercial Director of MDL Marinas, said: “Helping to restore the native oyster population, an important part of the local ecosystem which removes pollutants and provides habitats, is one of the many ways that the boating community can give back to the ocean and improve the local waters around us for our future enjoyment.”
The cages are marked out along the pontoons with plaques, next time you're down at one of our marinas, be sure to keep an eye out!
Last season MDL saw the addition of 24 new marinas, expanding our network to 124 marinas, across Europe with Passeport Escales - making it the perfect tool for weekend breaks or longer adventures. You can now explore even more of coastal Europe from the luxury of your own boat and it doens't cost any extra; it's included in your Freedom Berthing benefits!
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. 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. Get a quote today!
Or find out how the Foxes got on when they toured the European network.
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!