Sailing club takes action as Hickling Broad weeds double in size

PUBLISHED: 09:14 16 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:05 16 September 2017

Weed pulled from Hickling Broad during the recent Hickling Village Regatta which had become attached to a boat. Picture: Sue Hines

Weed pulled from Hickling Broad during the recent Hickling Village Regatta which had become attached to a boat. Picture: Sue Hines

Sue Hines

A Broads sailing club is having to invest in a new outboard engine for its rescue craft because excessive weed growth in the water was slowing down its emergency response times.

Action from the Hickling Broad Regatta. Picture: Sue Hines Action from the Hickling Broad Regatta. Picture: Sue Hines

Hickling Broad Sailing Club is among those who have been affected by the plants, which choke engines and cause vessels to break down.

Local businesses and sailors had warned the current levels of plant growth could slow or stop rescue boats responding to emergencies.

Club commodore Julian Jefferies said they had set themselves a 90-second response time to get to dinghies that had capsized and this was compromised by the current outboard they were using.

He said: “We’re looking to invest in a new engine for our rescue boat. It will be a standard outboard but will come with electric power tilt. This will allow us to raise the engine out of the water while on the move to throw off the weed.”

He said the motor would not have to be taken out of gear while doing this, which would help ensure that valuable time in responding to emergencies was not lost.

“At the moment we have to stop and manually lift the engine or ram it into reverse and forward a couple of times to get rid of the weed.”

Mr Jefferies said the club’s rescue boat assisted boaters on the Broads who had become entangled in the weeds “every single day that it is out”.

He said the club had lost “a few members” due to the weed problem. The club hopes to have the new engine fitted in time for the sailing season next year.

Excessive water plant growth on Hickling Broad was raised at a recent Broads Authority (BA) navigation committee meeting. Committee member Brian Wilkins said sailing had been difficult on the broad this year and it was losing its reputation as a good place to sail.

BA head of construction, maintenance and environment Dan Hoare said water plant management on the broad had been an ongoing issue. He said dredging had kept plant growth in the channel at bay, which was also regularly cut.

He said the average height of the plants had increased from 20cm in May to just over 40cm in August.

Around 60pc of the Broad is covered in growth.

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