Government confirms that private boats can use Broads waterways

Alan Wildman, RBOA Development Officer for the Broads, has been in constant communication with the Broads Authority, who have just issued the following Press Release:

The Broads Authority has today received confirmation from Defra that privately-owned powered boats can be used on the Broads for day trips as long as other guidance on social distancing is followed. This follows guidance issued earlier this week that allowed sailing and paddle boating (including canoes, kayaks and paddle-boards) to resume.

Whilst other inland waterways face a delay in the return of powered private boats, the Broads is able to welcome boaters back because maintenance of the waterways has continued throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.

John Packman, Chief Executive of the Broads Authority said:

“I want to thank our private boat owners that have continued to pay their tolls during a period when they were not able to enjoy the Broads. It is because of this that we were able to continue the essential work needed to enable their safe return. There are delays in other areas because the navigation authorities need to complete safety checks and make good any problems before boats can return. Whilst I still urge all boaters to take appropriate measures to stay safe and follow Government guidelines it will be great to see people back on the water. We all have a responsibility to ensure that our exercise and recreation does not have a negative impact on our communities and those that have worked so tirelessly to enable some relaxation to the restrictions during this terrible time.”

Whilst the public are advised to stay at home as much as possible, from today (13 May) you are now able to leave your home and travel to exercise or spend time outdoors from today.

As well as the relaxation of boating restrictions, owners may also visit their boats for leisure or to do maintenance but are not able to stay overnight away from their usual residence (so day trips only).

The Authority urges people to take care to follow guidelines and respect social distancing and to bear in mind that many businesses associated with boating may not yet be able to open.  It is also essential that boaters contact marinas where their vessels are moored directly to see if they are able to access them as some businesses may not be open or able to facilitate safe access.

The revised guidance on returning to work (if you are not able to do so from home) may also mean that some businesses may be able to re-open whilst others cannot. As well as restrictions business owners will have to judge it is safe to re-open and if they can apply social distancing / precautionary measures to protect staff and customers.

Before accessing the Broads:

  • Plan ahead –to ensure the safety of those around you and try to avoid areas that may attract lots of people.
  • Check with any facilities that you wish to use before you travel. Be aware that many businesses that support boating may not yet be able to open and this could affect marinas where your boat is normally moored and services such as fuel and pump out stations.
  • Only use your boat if you can apply social distancing at all times, including when mooring your vessel to leave a safe distance from others.
  • Travel with members of your household only, if no one in the group is displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You may only meet with people that are not within your household if you apply social distancing. You should not meet with more than one person outside your household
  • Be aware of the impact on emergency services if you were to get into difficulties. Think about what action you will take if your boat breaks down – recovery services may not be operating
  • Apply all normal sensible safety precautions and always wear a life jacket when on deck.
  • Pubs and restaurants are not allowed to open as normal – although some may offer takeaway services. Check with any businesses you wish to visit before you leave home.
  • Be caring and considerate of local residents who may be nervous about the risks of increased numbers of people accessing the Broads and the waterways.

Whilst we are all pleased that we can access the Broads again, the threat of Coronavirus is still very real. It is up to all of us to ensure the guidelines are followed to help save lives and protect our NHS.