Belsher's slipway is important
PUBLISHED: 02:01 23 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:32 10 June 2010
Slipways are not as straightforward as you might think. Sailing boats need lots of space and gently sloping access so they can be man-handled off their trolleys, sails can be pulled up and rudders attached, before sailing off. Powered craft need less sp
Slipways are not as straightforward as you might think. Sailing boats need lots of space and gently sloping access so they can be man-handled off their trolleys, sails can be pulled up and rudders attached, before sailing off. Powered craft need less space, with ideally a much steeper access as they are launched from trailers attached to tow-vehicles. This is why the Mamhead slip is used almost exclusively by powered craft, and areas like that by the Exe Sailing Club are mainly used by sailing craft. In each case, the surface needs to be firm enough for wheels not to dig in. Whatever is being launched - and more importantly recovered - needs sheltered water. The Mamhead slip is exposed in southerly and south-easterly winds, and is then unusable when the tide is high enough for waves to come over the bar. On low spring tides, it doesn't reach the sea. At such times, Belsher's is the only option. It is not ideal. I attended a meeting with East Devon District Council, councillors etc to discuss this on site in 2006. We agreed that the concrete would be adjusted to give a better surface so vehicles could go slower, and agreed the design of a road/walkway separation. I confirmed other suggestions in writing "...the safety issues are not helped where the wall design means that vehicular traffic cannot readily see approaching pedestrians, and pedestrians using the walkway cannot readily see vehicles. "It would be beneficial to differentiate the crossing area by use of a different colour surface, perhaps approximating to that used on a zebra crossing. "Assuming this to be bricked as elsewhere, the use of different colour bricks would seem to make this easy enough to achieve, and maintenance-free. "It may further help to fix signs to the outer wall warning vehicles of pedestrian traffic, and marked "Dead Slow, pedestrians crossing" or similar, and equally some form of signage warning pedestrians of potential vehicle movements - along the lines of "Look, listen - vehicles cross here". None of these things has been done, despite almost monthly chasing. Any facility at the new lifeboat station will be exposed to the weather. The RNLI have developed special craft and launching equipment to deal with this but, for the rest of us, it could only ever be a fine-day facility, and for safety there must be somewhere else to recover if the wind changes. Closing Belshers would be dangerous. Completing the agreed works there now should be a priority. Ed Hughes,15 Redwood Close,Exmouth.