Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Good? Or bad?

I’m talking about Paddington Basin regeneration ...

 This is the new ‘fan’ bridge at Paddington.  I like it, and I like the Rolling Bridge too.  I’m impressed with the new buildings along the lower part of the basin and I like the pontoons making the most of the mooring space.

But is all this to the detriment of boaters I ask myself?

The rolling bridge bridges a ‘lay-by’ of water, but there is no reason (other than ornamental) for the water; there is no access for mooring even though there’s room.  The fan bridge as far as I can see is also ornamental only.  It is currently opened (furled up) at certain times but I can’t think that boaters will ever be given the ‘key’ to open for mooring even though there are mooring rings on both sides of the lower basin.

Whenever we’ve visited Paddington it’s always been a ‘will we, won’t we’ scenario about getting a mooring and sometimes we’ve been disappointed.  I had hoped that once the building work was finished there would be more mooring here in the lower basin but it doesn’t look as if that will happen.

We knew from CRT updates received that Paddington Basin was going to be given over to winter moorings and I’d contacted them to ask if they were all taken right from the start (1st November) or if there were any spaces for visitors (perhaps some that had been booked from December or later) and I was told no there wasn’t.

So when we arrived here last Thursday afternoon, we felt that we were very lucky to get the last space available here.  We didn’t really notice that there could be a problem as we were so relieved to find a space but as we sat down to relax later we realised that the ‘bubbles’ the moorer opposite had mentioned as we pulled in, were creating the sort of noise that I can only describe as what I might expect on the high seas in a force 10 gale with huge waves crashing onto the boat (but without the movement of course - we were very firmly tied up!)

Fortunately the following morning (Friday) a boat on the other side moved and we quickly took that space as we thought it may be quieter on this side.  Once moved we set off into London to meet up with our son and when we came back the ‘bubbles’ had been switched off.  We weren’t sure what they were for; I thought perhaps it was something to do with the air conditioning in the offices here and that was why it went off on Friday, but several people have mentioned since that it’s to keep the green algy/duckweed off the canal and basin.  Come Monday morning and they were still switched off - fantastic!

‘Till an hour ago, when a Merchant Square works guy switched them back on ...
The ‘bubbles’ looking from our current mooring

... and another set just two boats up from us.

This really does cause a nuisance.  If the noise under your boat whilst moored here is anything like it was under ours that one night last week you too wouldn’t stay for more than one night, and looking at the pictures above it virtually wipes out four decent sized mooring slots from the very depleted visitor mooring options currently available on this short stretch leading into Paddington Basin.

I asked the chap who’d switched the bubbles back on, why? He told me that they should be on 24/7 and he had no idea why they had been turned off.  When I asked what it was all for he told me that  it was to keep the rubbish out of the basin and the guys who look after the area are supposed to clean up the water once a day, but because the bubbles had been switched off they were having to clean up 5 or 6 times instead! I said "that’s nonsense as there were plastic bags etc in the lay-by by the rolling bridge and they didn’t clean up there at all!” 

I can understand that aerating the water may keep the duck weed at bay but does it grow all year round?  I wouldn’t have thought so.

I really cannot believe that the powers that be, here, have put this in action to keep the rubbish out - once a plastic bag is in the water it will stay there until it is actually taken out - the bubbles won’t do it!

It sounds to me a bit like a knee jerk reaction to a problem (but not sure what problem) and that those powers that be should be thinking again.

Rant over!

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