Worries over river marina with solid berths

Published: Friday, 22 January 2021

THOUGH most river marinas have floating pontoons that rise in floods keeping boats safe, there is one notable exception, writes the editor, Tom Crossley.

This is Sawley Marina on the Trent whose pontoons and jetties are fixed, but do have sliding rails that allow some boat movement.

Sawley boats tiedSolid into the ground

At the time of marina expansion, notwithstanding the severe flood of 2000, many new pontoons and jetties were erected in the marina, but fixed solid into the ground, though at the time narrowboatworld advised about this pointing out the many boats at nearby Derby Boat Club and the new marina then built above Derwent Mouth Lock, that sank in the flood.

The problem is that many boaters tie their boats to the top of the sliding rails then to the roof, preventing them rising in the event of flood, as shown.  Then as the flood water rises the boat is held down, until eventually in rushes the water, and being tied at the top of the rails, the rope slides down so it sinks.

BountyStringThree sunk

In addition to tying tightly to roofs, during last year three boats were sunk in floods as their sterns were allowed to float under the jetty and held down whilst the bow rose, the flood water eventually rushing into the stern and down it goes.

Yet all that the boats required was a 'spring' (as shown) holding the stern from going backwards under the jetty, so as the water rises, so does the entire boat, its ropes sliding up the rails with the flood water.

Slowly rising

Yesterday, the marina moorers were told that throughout the night river levels were continuing to slowly rise, but luckily also told that its team will be patrolling the marina throughout the night.

As levels continue to rise, all the gates will be opened to allow evacuation of the many residents, with the warning that the electric and water services will be affected.

Torrents of water

During our years mooring at this marina we have witnessed many floods, including the one at 2000, when the sluices were opened at the Lady Bower Reservoir as its single wall structure was in danger of collapsing in the flood, their release thus sending torrents of water down the Derwent to meet the Trent at Derwent Mouth Lock. 

F2SunkThis caused the jetties at Sawley Marina to be over three feet under water, and even sinking boats in Chapel House Marina and along the Trent & Mersey Canal moorings as the Shardlow Flood Lock was closed.

British Waterways in charge

At that time British Waterways were in charge of Sawley Marina and as this was before the decimation of so many staff there were plenty of workers to make sure all the boats were safe with those wrongly tied quickly tied properly, so none sank. 

But now, with no lock keepers, lengthsmen or the like, and many more berths, who knows? 


Stern caught under jetty

The picture above shows one of the three boats that had its stern caught under the jetty in a flood last year, and though not sinking, the flood water had been much higher in the boat before its level had receded, all for the cost of a 'spring' to hold it back.

We are now constantly told that flooding will get worse as the climate changes, so perhaps it is time to make the berths safe from what will surely be more floods, by changing to floating pontoons, especially with around 100 permanent residents scattered around the marina.

What about them?

EvacuateOneWhat about those residents?  The many notices clearly state that when the moorings are underwater the vessels must be evacuated.

We are told that the moorings along the residents' East Side are now well under water (as in our picture of a former flood) so what of those many residents who have no other home?

LATEST: (Saturday afternoon)

Electricity supply is now intermittent but hope to restore on jetties still without power.  Water levels are receding and the jetties that have been covered are being cleared of debris.

The flood lock protecting the marina