Nowhere can the wide range of services provided by Thanet District Council be seen than at Ramsgate Royal Harbour Marina.
Owned and operated by the council, the marina is home to 700 berths, used by boats based at Ramsgate year round and visitors. One of the staff there to provide a warm welcome to all those using the marina is Tim Dyett, who's one of four dockmasters at the harbour. He started the job in October 2011, having spent the previous four years working in the council's CCTV control room.
However, as he explained to me, this is very much a case of him "going back to his roots". He worked with the Royal Engineers for a number of years and, amongst his duties, was working as a dockhand, something Tim describes "a good string to my bow, although it was nothing that I went out to do. I fell into it and enjoyed it". It was while doing this that he secured some of the qualifications needed to be a dockmaster, such as boat handling and navigation.
But being a dockmaster needs many more skills, as Tim explains. "You need to have good customer care skills, because all our visitors to the marina want the best possible service. We're here to make people welcome and to help their stay in the harbour, however long it is, to go as smoothly as possible."
That means responding to any requests that come in. While speaking to Tim, examples come into the dockmater's office, with a request for fresh water for a boat and a report of a broken gate that needs to be investigated. On other days, it could be a problem with the electricity supply or, if it's cold or icy, then the walkways to the various boats will need to be gritted or salted.
Despite the callouts, there is also a regular pattern to each day, as Tim explains. "We're responsible for the safe running of the harbour and we there's a set routine every day that every dockmaster has to follow and that takes up maybe half your day." That includes checking all the marinas, ensuring that all the boats are safely secured, because some of their owners may live away and can't check them regularly.
As Ramsgate Royal Harbour Marina is open 365 days a year, dockmasters are required on every day of operation. They work in shifts, with their office open from 6.00 am to 10.00 pm in the summer, while winter is kinder, with opening hours reduced to 7.30 am to 7.00pm. However, even outside of those hours, a dockmaster is on call for three days at a time for any problem that may occur at any time. That could be a boat going adrift or responding to requests from commercial vehicles to come into the harbour when the weather's bad.
Despite where he works, it may surprise you to know that the vast majority of Tim's job is actually on dry land. They do have a harbour boat if they need to get around on the water, but it's not used that often.
It's a job that Tim clearly loves. "It's just great being outside in the fresh air, even in the depths of winter, when the wind is howling. People always want to stop and chat to you, which is great. That's definitely the best part of the job, being outside and meeting people.