Further to our Newsletter of 26/05/2020

Today (27/05/2020)

we have received

the following information

from the Maritime Office


Processes and procedures are being created by the Hafan ready to cope with boat movements and work by Marine Traders.  It is hoped that these will be sent to you directly from the Hafan sometime this weekend.


Concerning the Marine Traders, the Maritime Officer advised that:


"The Marine Traders are all aware that they can access boats for maintenance purposes provided they have registered their interest with the Council and will comply with the Government Guidelines and Council Terms and Conditions.  Insofar as I am aware most employees remain on Furlough at present but individual companies will decide on their level of activity". 


The Maritime Officer also said:


"We have already commenced hoist operations-photo attached. This will be a very careful process.  As we are commencing this work in difficult circumstances.  It is not possible for me to give any estimation of time.  This will become clearer when we become more familiar with the new procedure."


Dave Dewsbury was down around the Harbour area yesterday 26/05/2020 and observed two of the Marine Traders apparently working.






26/05/2020 19:30

We have just received this statement from the Maritime Office.  

"With regard to Pwllheli harbour, I can confirm that contractors are now authorised to work on vessels either ashore or afloat by prior consent and agreement.  Boat owners are at present not permitted entry.

We will also be commencing work on craning vessels this week (launching or recovery.) This will be reviewed after each craning activity in order to ensure that our staff are protected when working in close proximity to each other.

We shall await to see what the First Minister will announce on Thursday and if as anticipated, we shall amend our working practices over the next few weeks to ensure that we can safely manage the facility for our staff, our customers and of course the residents of Gwynedd."


I last spoke to you just after lockdown had commenced, when I outlined the successful first stages of the lockdown and the PMBHA principles to "protect life and mitigate the effects on Berth Holders".  Also, to work together with Gwynedd Maritime Office (MO) to support these principles. This we have consistently done. 


We quickly recognised that communication between all parties would pose challenges.  Barry Davies, MO, Cyngor Gwynedd and I agreed to undertake regular contact by both email and telephone when possible.  This was supported by Jan Ranner the Secretary and a small section of your Committee. 


PMBHA has an "active Membership" of some 200 members (active being those with whom PMBHA communicates via email although no names are associated with the emails). For data protection reasons the Hafan has however got far fewer.  The PMBHA has a simple website which is also used to keep Members informed of latest events.  The main communication links between the MO, Hafan, PMBHA and its Members were thus established.


The PMBHA identified that the primary principle to protect life had been established and the Association's communications to Members were deployed to assist with this. Protection by the Hafan of the Berth Holders boats and assets had been secured.  There was then a need for PMBHA to plan ahead and extend the second principle of mitigation.  Your Committee knows how important your boats are to yourselves going far beyond just finance.  This of course had been exacerbated by your inability to travel to them. 


We therefore, proposed a more comprehensive, regular checking of the boats and equipment, including inspections below decks.  This was enthusiastically accepted by the Hafan and they prepared the necessary procedure documentation and commenced checks.  Jan notified the Members that this additional service was then offered.


Your Committee reviewed the potential need for additional hull checks with maintenance having been interrupted due to the speed of the lockdown and knew that when the lockdown was eased a strain on resources both within the Hafan and private boatyards could occur.  Also, storage space, sufficient cradles and hoist capacity could prove problematic.  The longer the lockdown was to be in place the greater the problem was likely to be.  There would of course be even shorter available time for boat use and a "double payment" of berthing fees plus storage charges was likely to occur.


PMBHA conducted a short on-line survey of Members (thank you to all Members who took part) obtaining information for the likely need for the use of hoists, by both Hafan and Traders together with information on the need for boat storage, both long and short term.  We shared the results with the MO who after consulting with the Hafan management concluded the likely demand could be met providing the following was combined.


  • Hafan resources for the movement and storage, utilising both Marine Traders and contractors for repairs.

  • Private boatyards for movement, storage and repair.


Boat owners were forbidden from accessing their own boats at this stage.


The MO advised us Safe Procedure Risk Assessment and H&S etc were all being undertaken by the Hafan within the Welsh Guidelines.


PMBHA was asked by the MO to contact Berth Holders and suggest they contact the Hafan with their details and requirements for boat movements and their chosen Marine Trader for  boat movements or work.  This was done via email together with a notice on the PMBHA website.


At this point the Hafan management requested Jan to remove the notice from the PMBHA website and enquiring Members were advised that no service would be provided.  Upon contacting the MO to request guidance on what was to happen, PMBHA was requested to leave the notice on its website as its presence provided the MO with helpful information on its customers demands.


Your Committee next turned its attention to the other growing concern for Berth Holders namely berthing fees and associated charges.  We received comments from Members ranging from desired positions of no payment should be made at all and there should be no reduction at all.


We commenced a long period of talks with the MO and we believe that a practical compromised position was reached by the MO having heard our arguments and that it is still to be finally sanctioned within the Council at the time of writing.  We advised you via email and notice on the website of what we hoped would be the outcome, with no promises of course because we have no control over what the Council decides to do.  We can only make our views known and make suggestions.


A local government has a difficult, tiered system of financial management, especially with the demands of the many Councillors from diverse areas of the County.  A number of whom would see other causes more pressing than boaters.  The MO was made fully aware and agreed that what is at stake is not just the large loss of income this year but the potential long term harm and loss to the whole of Gwynedd if boat owners choose to move elsewhere or even leave boating altogether. Covid-19 will have major effects on the finances of many boat owners, who also contribute much of their income to the wider Pwllheli area and a loss of jobs would be felt throughout.  The MO fully understood our concerns.


Meanwhile, the lockdown continues and the boating season shortens, made worse by the second home and travel restrictions in place. 


PMBHA and the MO agree that as many preparations and tasks that are possible should be undertaken without further delay before the lockdown restrictions are eased. 


Possible steps could include:


  • Maintaining communications between the MO, Hafan, Marine Traders and PMBHA.

  • Continually reviewing the Welsh Government Guidelines on where and how people can work.

  • Assisting with the development of safe working procedures for the Hafan.

  • Anything that would assist with getting boats ready for sea.


Where we are today:


  • No boat movements are currently taking place, but enhanced boat inspections continue.

  • No set date or plan for easing of the lockdown.

  • Pwllheli Marine Traders are advising customers that they are currently closed with no advertised date of likely opening

  • Hafan office is advising Berth Holders that no boat movements are possible again with no date when this may change.


On 18th May 2020 being aware that the agreed preparations to move forward with boat movements and works were not being made we wrote to the local Marine Traders Association.  We outlined our concerns for the possible effects of the current interpretation being made of working within the Welsh Government Guidelines resulting in nothing happening.


There are now at least 6 marine businesses within Wales who are managing to work and operate within the Guidelines.  These are:


  • Dickies of Bangor

  • Aberystwyth Marina

  • Port Dinorwic

  • Burry Port

  • Cardiff Marina


In addition, Ideal Boats which are based in Pwllheli are operating within the harbour area and have recently been posting Facebook pictures of their activities on the water including within the harbour and in sight of the of the office close to the slip.  This is within our understanding of the guidelines.

Whilst not marine, car maintenance garages are open and might be considered a comparison. An example is a car maintenance business within the Hafan area operating.

The construction industry around Gwynedd is opening.  The new Pwllheli Lifeboat station being another good example.

Our letter to the local Marine Traders quickly resulted in 3 written replies (2 from groups representing the Traders and 1 individual Trader).  These were very strongly worded and critical, particularly of myself.  They said I was mistaking the Welsh Government position and taking the English Government position.  They also made accusations of interference in their business affairs.

We have acknowledged their letters and advised that a reply would be forthcoming after consideration.

I can assure Members that both myself and your Committee fully respect the local Marine Traders and indeed Gwynedd's Hafan and recognise their right to operate their businesses as they think fit.  We also recognise they must comply with the Welsh Government Guidelines.  I also believe that I have been placed in my position to ensure Pwllheli Berth Holders interests, especially during these unique, uncertain and exceptional times.  I intend to see their interests are protected and that they are again in a position to enjoy their boating experience in and from Pwllheli as soon as possible and in the future. Hence, our belief that it was important to write to the local Marine Traders and express our concerns.  We never had any intention to cause offence and apologise for any given.


I am also acutely aware that unlike myself, Members including some of the PMBHA Committee Members need to have a good relationship with both the Hafan and local Marine Traders.  I will strive to represent the PMBHA Members to the best of my ability or until they otherwise decide.


I would like to thank our Committee for its support through this difficult period.


Dave Dewsbury