Shootin’ The Breeze: Jonathan Walcroft, Marina Manager at Gosport Marina

Jonathan Walcroft has worked in the marine industry since 1994 and prides himself as an organically grown Marina Manager. In 1994, when working away from home, he would visit local marinas and think what a great place to work they were.

His love of boating comes from going to work with his father who was the skipper of the Southern Television boat. It was no ordinary boat, being an ex-World War 2 Proud Class Motor Torpedo Boat, fitted with a pair of Black Mamba Turboprop gas turbine engines which propelled her along at up to 34kts.

Weighing in at 50 tonnes and at 70ft long, she was an impressive vessel, kitted out with two Marconi MkVII colour TV cameras, an Ampex VR1200 2” Quadruplex videotape recorder and all the radio links equipment to enable transmission of the live TV pictures back to the shore.

This was a powerful and hugely expensive production facility, so Southern Television sought to use it whenever they could, covering everything from the home-coming of famous yachtsmen Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Alec Rose, to Cowes Weeks, marine news in the English Channel and even as part of the plot in their children’s TV adventure serial ‘Freewheelers’.

Q What is a typical day for you as Marina Manager?
JW: I am very lucky to be able to say I love my job and no two days are the same. I remember my first manager’s job; I started making a to-do list, but within a few hours it was scrunched up and thrown in the bin. That is the great thing about being a manager for me – there is no typical day. A high percentage of my week is making sure we are staying ahead of legislation and keeping the marina and its users safe.

Q What is your favourite aspect of your job?
JW: Definitely the people. I have met some great people at the marina with amazing backgrounds. Throughout our lives we all have different challenges and if I feel I can help solve or smooth those challenges I go home feeling good.

Q Since you joined Gosport Marina in 2019, what changes has the marina seen? What is planned?
JW: Joining Gosport marina in 2019, the Covid pandemic made it a very different time. I cannot believe, when I look back, how different all marinas became – a marina without customers is not a great place to work. Knowing that Premier was owned by Wellcome Trust was reassuring – that we would be doing the right thing for our staff and customers. Dredging operations form a substantial part of our large-scale projects, but it is not something customers can physically see. A big attraction of Gosport Marina is the 455 deep-water berths, accessible at any stage of tide and we work hard to keep it that way.

Q What do berth holders tell you they like best about the marina?
JW: Customers often tell me that the access to the Solent is one of the best features of the marina, and they also like the fact that there is always something going on within the harbour. Seeing the aircraft carriers come into port for the first time is incredible. I often go out to watch as it really is amazing to watch, with the tugs making it all look so easy.

Q Can you tell us about your involvement with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue?
JW: I have been a serving on call firefighter since 1996 based at Hamble fire station and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have turned out to support my community and make it a safer place. I am 55 this year and I will retire from the fire service in November after 28 years of service. During this time I received all of the Queen’s Jubilee Medals and I also received the Queen’s Medal for Long Service and Good Conduct.

Q What are some events you host each year at the marina?
JW: We love an excuse to get together with the berth holders – it is much more rewarding for us and the berth holders when we get the marina community together. So far this year we have held Valentine’s Day events and offered treats on Mother’s and Father’s Days, but there is more to come.

Q What type of boating and/or watersports do you enjoy?
JW: I live in Hamble so I am never far from the sea and have owned a Sadler 29, Moody 36 and a Bavaria 36, which was our last boat. I did serve on Hamble Rescue for some years and enjoyed every minute of that as well.

Q If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you?
JW: That is a tough one. Bruce Willis.

Q Tell us something people might not know about you!
JW: I have fostered 17 dogs. My wife and I rescued a dog that from Spain. His name is Bennie, and he really is a great dog. He settled into our family well and we chose to help the charity out by fostering other dogs. We have fostered dogs from Spain, Bulgaria and Romania.



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