CHRISTCHURCH and Bournemouth’s Maritime volunteer service has been left “very disappointed” by a decision to take their boat out of the water.
The “very important” service has been told it can no longer moor its boat at Rossiters Quay from the beginning of April.
The voluntary service runs mostly on Saturday and Sundays, patrolling the river Avon and Stour to help rescue people, tow boats and clear obstructions such as trees from the water.
The team consists of 12 volunteers, with at least two going out on each patrol. They go up the river through Christchurch and then back down to Mudeford in patrols that last two or three hours.
The service works alongside Dorset Police and has assisted local clubs at several major events on the river.
Rossiters Quay sent an email to the volunteers last weekend to tell them they were “tidying up” the yard and marina. They say the demand for moorings and their new slipway and launch service means the space will be used for customer’s boats.
Head of Unit Dave Jones says the team are “very thankful” to Rossiters Quay for letting them moor their boat there free of charge for the past six years, but says they were “surprised” and “disappointed” to hear of the decision.
The five metre D-Class inshore rescue boat was previously used by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and is permanently moored at the boatyard. Mr Jones said the move may force the service to launch their boat every time it is used.
Mr Jones believes this will open up several issues, including queuing and an inability to launch the boat in very shallow water. He said this will waste valuable time that the team could be using to keep the river safe.
Deputy-Head of Unit Chris Lloyd-Smith explained the service are currently exploring options for a new place to moor their boat.
Mr Lloyd-Smith said if the boat is forced to launch every time it is used from a new location, it may put off volunteers and will require further training for them.
He said if the team has to use a trailer to transport the boat to different launch locations, “it will restrict” the amount of time the service will be able to patrol the river.
Mr Lloyd-Smith added that the service is “very important” and their presence deters thieves and vandals in the area.