The Port of Ramsgate has just completed the installation of a new pontoon system thanks to EU funding.

The pontoons are situated in the Western Gulley of the Royal Harbour Marina, between the Commercial Quay and West Pier. Historically.

This area has been dedicated for sole use by Ramsgate Small Boat Owners Association (RSBOA) offering lower cost moorings for smaller vessels.

Mooring of these small boats was previously provided through a matrix of anchored mooring chains known as a ‘chain trot mooring system’ that frequently required difficult and costly repairs by volunteers.

The complexity of these chains lying on the seabed also complicated any dredging, with entanglement of riser chains making it a time consuming and expensive exercise.

The new pontoon system consists of a primary walkway spine pontoon 46m long, with eight secondary finger pontoons to create eight bays for the safe mooring of 30 boats berthed in a Mediterranean style basis.

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The pontoons are constructed using galvanised steel frames, concrete encapsulated floatation units and GRP anti slip decking supplied by Solent Marine Ltd and have a design life of 25 years.

The configuration of the modular pontoon units optimises the water space available within the designated area, providing safer berthing and access for vessels.

The association is now hoping to clear their membership waiting list, allowing more people to enjoy the new facilities and maritime activities at the Royal Harbour.

The new pontoons were purchased with match funding from a European Interreg funding stream called Yacht Valley. The existing chain removal, dredging and installation was funded by Thanet District Council.

The harbour maintenance team worked closely with the crew of the MV Mannin to combine annual maintenance dredging with a technically challenging installation.

Following the installation of a new heavy duty chain and sinker mooring system to stabilise any movement of the new pontoons, the system has been monitored over a period of tidal cycles to ensure it maintains its line and position.

Now final tests are complete and safety ladders fitted, RSBOA will fit their own solar powered, low energy LED lighting within the walkway decking as an additional safety feature on the pontoons.

RSBOA spokesman Michael Hart said: ‘The Ramsgate Small Boat Owners Association wish to express their gratitude to the Harbour Master and his staff for our new pontoon mooring system. This will not only simplify mooring for our members, but will also make it easier to maintain a sufficient depth of water at all times.’

Cabinet member for operational services, Councillor Hunter Stummer-Schmertzing said: ‘Improving facilities for all our users is a top priority for us and I am thrilled that these pontoons will enhance moorings for small boat owners, and even enable new people to experience our facilities.

‘These new pontoons are the second set to have been installed this year and are another development in our exciting plans for the future of Ramsgate Port, as detailed in our Maritime Plan.’

Members of RSBOA are delighted with the new facilities and have now relocated their boats back from the temporary berths provided by Port of Ramsgate in the Western Outer Marina, whilst construction works were carried out.