BOAT-OWNERS may keep on looking after their vessels “up on the hard” until at least October 2023 following a two-year extension of the Port Franklin slipway’s current operational trial.
Gippsland Ports’ infrastructure and operations executive manager Greg Hatt said the Gippsland Ports Board agreed to lengthen the trial after a request from the Port Franklin Public Purpose and Recreation Reserve Committee of Management, known locally as the Foreshore Committee.
Mr Hatt said the Committee had asked the Board to “consider extending the operational trial of the Port Franklin slipway, given that restrictions through the COVID period have impacted opportunities for boat owners to use the slip.
“The Gippsland Ports Board has resolved, contingent on slipway and associated infrastructure condition and available budget, to extend the operational trial of the Port Franklin slip for two years through until October 2023,” he said.
“This extension will necessitate expenditure of about $25,000 in the short term for the [required 10-year] compliance strip-down of the winch, a slipway condition assessment, and essential maintenance on the winch shed.
“Gippsland Ports is seeking State Government assistance with the funding for these works,” Mr Hatt said
“Extending the trial will enable a better understanding of the Port Franklin slipway’s use, and for alternative funding options to be explored.”
The slipway was given a two-year reprieve from permanent closure and decommissioning in June 2019 after the local community and boat-owners showed clear support for the facility to be retained and its capacity made greater.
The Gippsland Ports Board’s decision to continue with the slipway followed consultations with the Port Franklin community and stakeholders in May 2019 after Gippsland Ports announced in 2017 that the slipway would be closed because of declining use.
Board members agreed to keep the slipway open on the condition that its level of usage grew, and the facility would become financially sustainable. The slipway’s capacity was subsequently increased from 4.25 tonnes to eight tonnes.
Mr Hatt said that “during the past 10 years to 2019, the number of slippings at the facility had fallen from between 25 and 35 per year to about 15 per year.
“Since Gippsland Ports brought the operations back in house in October 2019, the number of slippings at Port Franklin to date has been 10, with advice that there are three bookings ahead.
“From October 2019 to September 2020, there were three slippings for a total of 16 days use, and between October 2020 and April 19, 2021 there were seven slippings for a total of 110 days use,” he said.
“Six of these slippings were vessels which would not have been accommodated at Port Franklin before the slipway’s capacity was increased to eight tonnes from its previous 4.25 tonne limit.”
Boat-owner Mick Hemming of Leongatha had his “20-foot clinker-built launch”, the Lucille Clare, up on the Port Franklin slip on Thursday May 13, 2021.
Made in Frankston from either celery top pine or huon pine at some time during the 1950s, the Lucille Clare has been moored at Port Franklin for the past 10 or so years.
Mr Hemming said that she had been slipped on several occasions during that period for routine maintenance and the occasional repair.
“This time, we’re scraping the barnacles off, touching up the paintwork, and reapplying anti-foul,” he said.
“Whenever the boat is out of the water like this, any little jobs you can do on her, you do.
“It’s good that Gippsland Ports is has kept the slipway open and is doing something about it, now that Gippsland Ports has got control of it,” he said.
“It’s also a good thing that people are using the slip again, too.”
The fee for the Port Franklin slipway is $510 for three days plus $25.50 per extra day after that, along with an evironmental charge of $29.30 per lift.
Local operator Don Henderson runs the Port Franklin slipway on Gippsland Ports’ behalf, and he is available to provide information about the facility on 0487 410 217.
Bookings for the Port Franklin slipway are made through Gippsland Ports’ Paynesville Boatyard on 5156 6352.