This month I have seven updates on stories which have been running in this column.
First, the Rivermaid is now based in Salcombe so that she can be used for estuary cruises when there is not enough water to run to Kingsbridge. This will help keep her financially viable. The Dartmouth to Salcombe ferries have been disrupted by poor weather but have proved popular on the days they have managed it.
Second, water quality. The Environment Agency considers that the upper part of the harbour is failing in terms of its Site of Special Scientific Importance (SSSI) status. It looks likely that Gerston sewage works will have to start removing nitrates and phosphates, which should make a significant difference.
Third, this year the harbour will be offering visiting yachts a sample of phosphate-free washing up liquid to mark our campaign to reduce phosphates in the harbour. The Royal Yachting Association has a Code of Conduct which advocates phosphate-free and British Waterways has banned phosphate detergents on boats in inland waters. The UK is behind on this: phosphate detergents have been prohibited in the USA for over 10 years. This isn’t just an issue for boats: local households are responsible for most of the phosphates in the harbour.
Fourth, the Harbour Board is stepping up its action against speeding. There are new yellow speed limit buoys in Southpool creek (and elsewhere), the radar speed gun has been calibrated and speeding has got so troublesome that it looks likely there will be a prosecution this year. As an aside, there is a debate over spelling: the charts uniformly give “Southpool creek”. The South Pool pontoon, which is at the head of Southpool creek, will have both spellings!
Fifth, South Hams let us down at the last minute over Jubilee Pier and left the railings in a mess. They are so rusty that they could injure anyone using them as a handrail. The Harbour Board is petitioning for something to be done.
Sixth, so far, this year hasn’t been bad for the harbour. Although the number of visiting yachts is around 6% down, income is up by about 6% because those boats are staying longer. However large motorboats, which have in the past made up a good slice of the harbour’s visiting income, do not seem to be on the move this year, which may be a sign of how the recession is changing things.
Seventh, the Frogmore pontoon has been finished and officially opened: it looks very smart and you no longer have to get your feet wet.