Broads sailors ‘get back on the water’ after change in lockdown rules
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
Sailing enthusiasts have wasted no time in getting back out on the Broads following a change in government lockdown guidance earlier this week.
On Tuesday, November 10, the Broads Authority updated their website to say that sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking and paddle-boarding had all been permitted as forms of legitimate exercise by the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs.
This is provided the “usual guidance” around social distancing is maintained.
Dr Mark Collins, chairman of the Northern Rivers Sailing Club, said this was “fantastic news”, and that the day after the change was announced spent “four or five hours” exercising out in his yacht.
He said: “We thought it was unfair that we shouldn’t be able to take our boats out as exercise, and just wanted some consistency from the government.
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“We understand we can’t use them to ‘travel’ anywhere, but as general exercise, we couldn’t see anything wrong with sailing as an activity.
“A lot of our club members are retired, and for them, sailing out on their own is a great form way of keeping fit - both physically and mentally.
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“You’re making a lot of decisions, you have to stay focused, and you’ve got the wind at your back. It’s tough - there’s no engine involved.
“We all know with coronavirus you’ve got a better chance of fighting it if you stay healthy, and for us, sailing is our way of doing that. It’s an exhilarating sport.
“My boat was just sitting there going green with algae, so I’m relieved I can get out on the water again.”
But the certainty with which sailing boats can get their Broads’ fix is not the same for all boaters who use the waterways.
Paul Rice, chairman of the Broads Society, said a lack of clarity over the use of private motor boats in particular was causing “havoc” on Norfolk’s waterways.In a statement posted to their website on November 10, the Broads Authority (BA) said it had “repeatedly sought guidance from the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)” about how coronavirus restrictions apply to private motor boat owners - but that the department had not been forthcoming.
MORE: Confused Broads boaters demand clarity over lockdown guidanceDEFRA said it had been clear that “exercise”, such as sailing, kayaking and paddle-boarding, can now go ahead providing social distancing is maintained.
It had also been clear that boat owners could contract businesses to carry out maintenance on their behalf.
A DEFRA spokesman said: “Across all sectors, it is the responsibility of individuals and organisations to digest and interpret the regulations to ensure they are acting within these.
“Non-essential travel is not permitted anywhere in England at this time, including on waterways.”