The Big Bay Eco Challenge

On the 21st July 2019

Racing to raise money for the RNLI, join in, place your bets and WIN BIG. Wind, Electric, Pedal or Arm power, who will win!? The challenge where the winner takes all!

SAIL vs. PEDAL POWER vs. ELECTRIC vs. SUP.

Who will be crowned the champion?

Raising money for the RNLI in a race that will test the ultimate strength of Mike Smith, Torquay’s Marina Manager participating on a Schiller Water Bike, the speed of a Bavaria sailing yacht, the power of an electric BMW Bike, the arm strength from the SUPs and the electric power of a BMW i8.

Will the traffic be against electric? Will the wind be against sail? Will the SUPs fall off, will the bike get lost off road? or Will Mikes legs simply give up? It's anyone's race.

All we know is there can only be one winner and it could be you!

ONE LUCKY WINNER WILL WIN A LUXURY HAMPER, RIB RIDE, 1 NIGHT AT THE CARY ARMS AND DINNER FOR 2, A BMW FOR A WEEKEND, JET SKI SAFARI, ANNUAL CAR PARK PASS, DINNER AT THE ELEPHANT RESTAURANT, CLEAN TO GLEAM CLEANING KIT AND AN EXTERIOR BOAT WASH DOWN and a STAND UP PADDLEBOARD LESSON!

Place your bets at Torquay Marina's reception - open to both Members and the Public.

Raffle tickets are also now available from the marina office.

Sponsored by Ocean BMW.

For More Information
Call: 01803 200210
Email: Mike Smith
Website: https://www.bigbayecochallenge.co.uk

The stand-up business

Posted: 12th April 2019

Most people think of comedy when you say stand-up. But to WeSUP the enjoyment of their guests is no laughing matter.

Sean White is a driven man. He’s gone from managing music acts to opening his third stand-up paddleboarding centre at MDL’s Torquay Marina in the space of a few years. And each centre he works on is getting bigger and better.

“Our new joint venture at Torquay Marina’s set to open on May 1st this year,” Sean says. “It’s brilliant. It’s going to be a destination in its own right. It’s got an artisan café partnered with Cornish master coffee makers Origin, a fantastic retail space stuffed full of high-end water sports gear and clothing and, of course, our offering of Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) hire and lessons, and other watersports too.”

The offering at Torquay will follow through on WeSUP’s community club thematic, which Sean says is borne from his music industry experience. It’s all about lifestyle opportunities – fitness, connecting people, and seeing the coast from a new perspective. This fits perfectly with Torquay Marina’s community – where MDL’s manager, Mike Smith, has opened the gates of his stunning waterside location to act as a leisure hub. Companies onsite already offer RIB and jet-ski rides plus Torquay Marina is the start-point for lots of hires such as fishing trips.

“Ours is a beautiful marina,” says Mike. “We’re always looking for ways to open the water up to the community and water sports enthusiasts. We’re delighted to have Sean onboard. SUP will complement the other watersport providers we have here, including jet skis, kayaking and more. We’ve created a leisure hub for everyone to enjoy – Torquay offers so much more than an amazing place to berth a boat.”

Sean is convinced that once people try stand-up paddleboarding, they’ll be hooked for life, as he was. He began aged 23. Before that he was terrified of open water – he’d grown up in Cornwall so he was supposed to love surfing – but he didn’t take very well to getting beaten up and drowned by massive waves. He wasn’t a natural. But SUP changed everything, after one trip out on flat water.

Now twelve years on he laughs about the serendipitous manner in which he came across the sport. As a music manager, he’d been living in London and employed by ID Records.

“I’d gone to a beach to shoot a video for a band called Yellow Wire,” he explains. “It was for Phoenix Mercury Trust. Once a year people dress as Freddie to raise money.  The band were dressed up and the idea was to put them on paddleboards. The boards were beasts. Heavy and unwieldy.”

As they were getting started with filming a man (Ant Baker) appeared and offered them the use of his new boards instead – and according to Sean they were a revelation.

“Ant’s boards had handles,” he explains. “We had to carry the other ones on our head, so of course we said ‘yes’. And after a few minutes on the water, we could all tell the difference. They were Fanatic boards, and I’ve never looked back. We were lucky he was there looking for business.”

Sean kept hold of Ant’s card and a year later, when he was looking for a change of career and a life back in Cornwall, he followed the address in the card to arrive at Nik Baker’s (Fanatic’s UK agent) house to pitch the WeSUP dream and that was the start of the WeSUP journey.

Nik helped to start the journey by supporting Sean’s fledgling business.  As one of the most famous big wave windsurfers in the world, he wasn’t afraid of a challenge and gave Sean a leg-up from the outset.

Even so, initially Sean had to beg friends and family to come and have a go at his first centre on Gylly Beach. Back then, he says, he was the only SUP in sight as nobody was doing it, and nobody had even seen it. But it wasn’t long before the notion of standing up on the water began to spread, especially helped by the adventurous journeys he was making.

Like paddling the length of Scotland along the Caledonian Canal. “We surfed Loch Ness for 30 miles on a crazy wind swell,” Sean says. “It was all about adventure and the experience of the wild. That opened a new realm for me, thinking about transformational experiences. That’s what SUP offers.

“After our Scottish adventure we did 252 miles round the coast of Cornwall – Duckpool (Bude) to Saltash (on the Tamar). We were the first to do that and we were also the first to SUP the entire region of Sognefjord in Norway which happens to be the world’s longest, narrowest and deepest navigable fjord. SUP is so different from being on a boat, or in a canoe.  You get a unique perspective – in a kayak you can’t see into marshes, you can’t look over the boat. When you’re standing-up you get a 360-degree perspective into the water and around you.”

Seeing things in a unique way is a common theme with Sean. Like working with MDL and its network of 18 UK marinas.

“Companies like us offer forward thinking marinas a way to change how their economies work,” Sean says. “To open the access to the river for locals and other people. We’ll bring a whole new group of people onsite, and their spending power. Plus, I’m now thinking about buying a boat after spending time in marinas – and I expect a lot more people will too. We’re helping the whole of the industry.”

And the industry is helping him straight back. Working with MDL has, he says, inspired his, and his recent business partner Harry James-Mills (a former builder borne on a boat on the Helford River, Gweek), levels of professionalism to reach even higher.

“The attention to detail, operational procedures, and safety policies involved with setting up our centre with MDL in Torquay Harbour have made us acutely aware of what we need to be thinking about across all our sites. It’s a brilliant journey with MDL and one we’re looking to spread out across many of their sites.”

For more information, please visit the WeSUP Torquay website.


Torquay Marina's the Coastal Marina of the Year, Runner Up!

Posted: 5th March 2019

We’re delighted to announce that Torquay Marina has received the Yacht Harbour Association Coastal Marina of the Year Runner Up award for a marina over 250 berths.

Voted for by members of the public and marina berth holders, the prestigious Marina of the Year awards focus on the quality of the marina facilities and the customer service received from the marina staff.

“We are delighted to receive this award and it is testament to the hard work of the team here at Torquay Marina. Knowing that this accolade is voted for by our customers on the strength of the customer service they receive makes it all the more valuable to us,” comments Mike Smith, Torquay Marina Manager. 

“The whole process has allowed us to find out more about our customers, visitors and annual berth holders, and what is important to them. We can now take what we have learnt and further put this at the heart of what we do, therefore, continuing to improve so that we offer the best marina experience possible.” 

The award will be officially presented to representatives from Torquay Marina on the 24th April at the bi-annual Marina Conference in Bournemouth. 


logo for marina of the year awards - runner up coastal

Bank Holiday BBQ

On the 26th August 2019

Join us for a mouth-watering feast! Complete with a cool tipple.


Winterising your motor boat

Posted: 21st January 2019

Despite the exceptionally mild start to the winter, the threat of a sudden cold spell may be just a forecast away. If we get another beast from the east, or even just a standard seasonal cold snap, is your boat prepared? asks Neale Byart, editor of Motorboat Owner.

Winterising is the act of protecting your boat, its equipment and contents from the ravages of the winter weather. Failing to carry out any preparation for winter can result in expensive damage to the engine, domestic water system and even your soft furnishings. 

While many marinas, such as MDL, offer lifting capabilities and boat yard services at heavily discounted berth holder prices to help keep your pride and joy in tip top condition with hull scrubs, anti-foul and other maintenance, there are practical steps you can take while berthed.

Here we break down the process of winterising your boat into three categories. First, there is the ‘must dos’. These are the jobs that you should carry out as an absolute minimum, and look after the areas most likely to be affected by a cold spell and most costly to put right. Next we have the ‘good to do’ list. These are jobs that it would be worth considering, as they will keep other parts of your boat fresh and undamaged by winter ravages. Lastly there is the ‘also consider’ list. These are jobs that are good to get done at this time of year. Possibly because they will give you an early ‘heads up’ if anything is wrong, allowing you plenty of time to get things fixed before next season, or maybe just because it means your boat will be in a better state of readiness to go in the spring when the weather finally breaks, meaning you can get back on the water with the minimum of work.

Must do

The most important, and expensive, item on your boat is its engine or engines. Seriously cold weather can cause water in the cooling system to freeze and expand. This in turn can crack any part of the cooling system, including the engine block itself. 

On a raw-water cooled engine you can choose to simply drain all cooling water, but if the water is salty, you will still be leaving behind a certain amount of potentially corrosive mixture. Far better is to mix up a solution of antifreeze and run it through the engine, either by pouring it into the raw water strainer, lowering the sterndrive into a container containing the mix or by using some engine flush muffs. 

Engines with an enclosed cooling system will still have some raw water inside certain parts of the cooling system, such as heat exchanges and raw water pumps. Again this can be drained or purged using the same method as above.

Even though engine blocks with an enclosed cooling system are protected by the antifreeze that the coolant should have within it, it is worth remembering that this should be changed every couple of years to ensure its efficiency. On an engine with an enclosed cooling system, you should, at least, test the enclosed antifreeze mixture to ensure it is capable of doing its job. 

Domestic water system

Perhaps the most common form of frost damage experienced is to the boat’s domestic water systems. The best thing you can do to protect this part of the boat is to completely drain it. You can simply run your taps until the tank runs dry, and this will remove most of the water from the system, but there will still be enough trapped water inside the pipe work and taps to cause damage. Once the tank is empty, take the supply hose from the tank and using a dinghy pump blow water out of the system by opening one tap at a time. Don’t forget any taps out in the cockpit or on the transom, as these are the most vulnerable. You can then leave all taps open to allow any remaining water a bit of expansion room, if required.

Don’t forget to drain your water heater. If you have a calorifier, just take off the lower hose. If you have a gas water heater, it should have a drain cock that you can simply undo. Check your owner’s manual for its location. 

If the worst comes to the worst and something does goes awry, many marinas offer boat maintenance and engineering. MDL’s network even welcomes outside contractors onto marinas with its open yard policy, plus for MDL members there is often substantial discounts from onsite tenants.

Good to Do

Make the most of winter offers which are offered by marinas like MDL and get ahead of the game with a quick lift and check for hull damage, scrubbing and anti-fouling. Plus, your marina manager or onsite chandlery will be able to tell you which anti-foul you should be using in the local area. 

Soft furnishings can take a bit of a beating in a cold and potentially damp environment. If you can, take them off the boat and store them at home somewhere dry. If you can’t take them home, or have nowhere to store them, you need to ensure the boat remains as dry as possible. Fix any leaks, ensure all covers are in good condition and all cover fixings are in place. You could consider running an electric dehumidifier for a few hours a day if you have access to a reliable source of power. If not, you may be better off ensuring good ventilation through the boat by leaving a hatch or porthole or two open. Just make sure that they are ones that won’t let rain in. 

The boat’s exterior is fully exposed to the worst of the weather so consider giving the boat a final wash and then apply a generous coat of a good quality wax. You don’t have to polish the wax off until the spring, when doing so should reveal a nicely preserved and shiny boat beneath. 

If you have any grey or black water tanks, have them pumped out and flushed through, leaving them empty and clean ready for the next season. Don’t forget the little grey water shower sumps. These should be emptied, which also gives you an opportunity to clean the filter to ensure another year of trouble-free service.

Using a good corrosion protection product, give the engines, mechanicals and any exposed electrical items a good spray. While you are working in these parts of the boat, perhaps also grease any movable linkages and squirt some grease into any grease points.

The subject of fuel tanks is a thorny one. Our recommendations would be to leave petrol tanks as empty as possible and diesel tanks full. A full diesel tank will ensure there is minimal internal tank surface left for condensation to form on, keeping your fuel as free of water as possible. Petrol, on the other hand, does not keep well, particularly in a vented tank, so you would be better off starting the new season with a fresh tank of fuel. Adding a fuel stabiliser to any petrol that does remain in the tank should help ensure it keeps it fresh enough to start the boat in the spring and get you to the fuel berth.

To ensure that your batteries make it through the winter, check the electrolyte levels, top up if required, and ensure that they are fully charged. If possible, give them a trickle charge, or a sporadic short charge, during the winter to keep them in top condition.

Also consider

These are not really winterising jobs, but are good to do now for a number of reasons, but mainly because it means that, come spring, the boat should be in a ‘ready to go’ state with no nasty surprises lurking.

Change the engine oil. Old engine oil contains contaminants that can harm the internals of your engine. If you change the oil now, the clean fresh oil will coat and protect the internal running surfaces. It will also provide an early ‘heads up’ of any problems such as water or fuel contamination.

Change your sterndrive or outboard gearbox oil. It is not uncommon to find water contamination here, so you don’t want to leave that water in contact with your gears all winter. It will also give you a few months to get the source of the problem fixed, making use of a quieter time of year for most marine engineers. If you leave it until spring, you may find yourself at the back of a very long queue.

Check your props for damage. Like good engineers, the people who refurbish propellers get very busy in the spring, so get the prop off and in for repair early, if required.

Lastly, check your safety equipment. Items such as lifejackets, liferafts, PLBs, EPIRBs and firefighting equipment all have service requirements and/or expiry dates. Winter is a good time to get these items serviced, or hunt out some well-priced replacements.

If you’re berthed at a great marina, you can always ask for advice from the marina staff. MDL’s marinas offer members a a 30% discount on boat yard services and have 13 boatyards across the UK network – with lifting capabilities for all types of boat. The company offers inclusive storage ashore and with 500 tenants across its network, MDL always knows someone who can help.


The Perfect Winter Warmer

On the 8th December 2019

Join us in the marina office for mince pies and mulled wine for all! Escape the wintery chill and have a catch up with your marina team.


Spooky Halloween Fun

On the 31st October 2019

Will it be tricks or treats? Join us in the marina office for sweet treats and a few scares!


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