A University of Bath student has developed an innovative online mooring and berth booking system that promises to eliminate one of the biggest worries for boat users - finding a spare mooring in crowded harbours and marinas.
‘Moored Solutions’, developed by a team led by physics student Jamie Crisp, allows boat users to see what moorings and berths are available, and to reserve and pay for them online, which also resolves the issues many marina and harbour operators face around managing space and collecting fees.
“We think this fully autonomous system is a first for the marine industry, allowing boat users the ability and confidence to turn up and pay, or to book in advance, and helping marina and harbour operators cut their operating costs, manage space more efficiently, and encourage more sailors to use their facilities,” Crisp said.
Crisp, a keen sailor and sailing instructor, said his team were in talks with several marinas and harbours about implementing the system, which he expects to launch in 2024. He said the system was suitable for the smallest operator with a single berth up to large harbours with hundreds of moorings and berths.
Users access the Moored Solutions website through the website of their chosen destination and use a map interface to select a mooring or berth based on availability and their vessel requirements, akin to selecting a seat on an airline flight. They make an electronic payment and return to the marina page.
“Some marinas and harbours offer ‘online booking’ but this really amounts to little more than filling in an electronic form requesting a mooring, which then has to be processed manually by operations staff. Our system can free up staff to fully focus on the guests’ experience,” he said.
He said operators were particularly interested in how it would improve the customer experience, relieve pressure on their staff, increase occupancy rates, and also potentially attract more bookings from boat users who could now be confident of a safe refuge at their chosen destination.
“Most facilities rely on their own personnel booking moorings and visitors, which can take up considerable time and resource. And many boat users will confirm how hit-and-miss or stressful this process can be if staff are not available, and how difficult it is to plan a sailing trip without knowing mooring space is free. In short, we can improve the convenience for boat users, and productivity for operators,” he said.
Crisp said the marina and harbour operators were also interested in the system’s ability to accommodate the rise in electric powered vessels, which require predictable availability of charging facilities.
“We will also be able to attach other facilities to the system, such as contacting water taxis, arranging grocery deliveries, securing fuel, or booking local restaurants or repair and maintenance services,” he said.
Crisp said the idea for Moored Solutions originated in overhearing conversations by disgruntled harbourmasters who were struggling to collect mooring fees. He pulled together a team of computer scientists, developers and engineers and secured two rounds of funding from the University’s ‘Dragons’ Den’ scheme run by the university to support budding student entrepreneurs.
The University of Bath, under its Enterprise and Entrepreneurship programme, offers a range of support and development opportunities. More information can be found here.