STEVE GRAY is a man on a mission. He has been the operations manager at Shepperton Marina in Felix Lane, Shepperton for the past seven years and much of his time has been devoted to the project of expanding the marina by adding new mooring pontoons on two of the currently unused lakes on the site.
And that dream is about to be fulfilled as work nears completion on part of the West Lake – shortly to become known as Basin C – which will expand the marina’ s capacity from its current 227 berths to around 350. When the project is finally complete and Basin D comes on line, the marina will be able to offer safe homes to approximately 430 boats of varying shapes and sizes.
Steve told me: “There were times at the beginning when I thought: ‘I just can’t do this – it’s too complicated.’ But our managing director, Rob Marsh, helped me by saying: ‘How would you eat and elephant? Answer – one bite at a time.’ And that’s just what we’ve done here.”
A huge amount of work has already taken place to bring about the transformation. A large spit of sand and gravel had to be removed from the entrance to the West Lake where it joins the rest of the marina and the resulting shortened promontory made safe with new piling. The whole question of electrical power supply to service the new basin had to be addressed and facilities put in place to distribute fresh water to the new berths.
That involved digging up huge parts of the marina car park and hard standing to run power cables and water pipes. And then, finally, the new pontoons had to be craned into place – and that involved Shepperton taking over the responsibility for the cranage which was formerly contracted out to a third party.
Steve freely admits that he got quite emotional as he watched the pontoons being lifted into the water.
“I’ve lived with this every day for years and there were times when I never thought it would happen – and suddenly, watching the pontoons going in I realised it was finally here.”
It’s a testament to his planning, organisation and eternal optimism that the marina expects to be able to offer spaces to new boats from January next year – and Steve has been promoted to Operations Director for Shepperton Marina – a well-earned reward for his dedication.
But the work doesn’t stop there.
Steve says: “We take a lot of care here to make sure we look after our customers – little things like checking all the boat mooring lines and sweeping our pontoons every day; providing a service called ‘fast fuel’ where boat owners can call us when they want to refuel their boats and we’ll make sure there’s someone on the fuel pontoon waiting for them when they get there.
“We’ve also negotiated deals with local Shepperton businesses so that our berth-holders can enjoy discounts by shopping in the area. It all goes to make being a berth-holder here a good experience.
“Our view is that boating time is precious time for our customers and we want to make sure they don’t waste it. We aim to make this place the best marina on the Thames.”
With Steve Gray’s cheerful good humour and his passion for getting things right, he might just do it, too.
For more information about Shepperton Marina’s expansion, visit www.sheppertonmarina.com.