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Insights, Day In The Life Of...

On deck with James ‘Jimmy’ Lines

27 July 2021

We’re a small team and Val Wyatt, and so many people who visit our marina meet most of us! We thought we’d do a series of “day in the life of” so you can get to know us a little better. Starting with: our boat movement superstar in the marina….

Hi Jimmy. We are sat here in the marina’s beautiful café. What can I get you to drink?

I don’t drink tea or coffee, so I’ll have a Coke.

Great! Can you tell me a little about you and your role?

Of course. I’m Marina Assistant at Val Wyatt Marine and I have worked at the company since 2016 – so that’s five years. Wow, time flies! My role encompasses many tasks that contribute to the day-to-day running of the marina. This includes lifting boats, operating tractors, cleaning and polishing the vessels, as well as general maintenance, including cutting the lawns and making sure the area is kept safe and tidy.

So, it sounds like you spend most of your time out in the open air?

Yes, I’m pretty much outside all the time. This is fantastic in the summer, but not as enjoyable in the cold and wet winter months! Although, to be fair, I do love the cold and crisp winter mornings too.

Do you have a “typical day”?

Not really. I work closely alongside Richard, our Marina Manager, and Roddy, our Yard Manager. Each week, a list of tasks is drawn up and we work our way through them, while also dealing with any additional jobs that come in during the week. It is quite rare that any two days are the same. Whilst we don’t have a “typical day”, we do operate to a seasonal cycle.

From October to December, we are required to lift every boat out of the river, as well as any boats we collect at Henley-on-Thames. Once removed from the water, we pressure wash the boats and safely store them for the winter.

From January to April, we begin to prepare the boats for the months ahead. We will carefully clean and polish the vessels, so they are ready to be used for another summer.

Once summer arrives, and all the boats have been put back onto the water, it is a little more relaxed and I can concentrate on maintenance across the site. I do enjoy this time, because more people are on site, and we can chat with the boat owners. We put a lot of emphasis on maintaining relationships with our customers – and helping them wherever possible. That’s my favourite part of the job.

Could you tell us more about boat lifting?

Sure. Over the winter months all boats must be removed from the water. This is to protect them in case of any flood alerts, for safety purposes. In addition, this process is also good for the boat itself, as it provides the opportunity for the hull to dry out, as well as cleaning, polishing and general upkeep – which is important in terms of protecting the value of the boat. I wouldn’t recommend leaving a boat in the water for over a year. During the peak lifting period, I can lift and clean up to 10 boats a day, depending on size.

Have you always wanted to work in this sector and where do you see yourself in five years?

No, not initially. I left school and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I originally took a temporary position at Val Wyatt for a few months in 2014, where I spent a lot of time cleaning the boats, and I loved it. Once that contract was up, I went to work in a nearby marina for a couple of years before I got the chance to return to the team at Val Wyatt in a full-time role. I am enjoying the experience and I would eventually like to progress to a managerial role.

Big question: what is your favourite boat from the Val Wyatt portfolio?

Oh, that is a hard question – there are so many amazing boats. I like the Interboat Intender 820 – it is a fantastic all-rounder!

Excellent. Finally, what do you like to do outside of work?

I have my own sports boat based down near Southampton, so on my days off I do love to travel down to the south coast. I also enjoy off-road driving with my dad. We have a collection of Suzuki Jimnys we restore, modify and drive. We take them to events and meet other enthusiasts. It’s great fun.

You sound like someone who is happiest when on-the-go! Thanks for your time, Jimmy…