Sailors asked to slow down

SAILORS have been asked to slow down when using the Walton backwaters to reduce dangers to wildlife, swimmers and other boat users.The increasing number of people using the channels and fairways has led to the introduction of lower speed limits.

By Annie Davidson

SAILORS have been asked to slow down when using the Walton backwaters to reduce dangers to wildlife, swimmers and other boat users.

The increasing number of people using the channels and fairways has led to the introduction of lower speed limits.

Bill Wilkinson, chairman of Hamford Water Management Committee, said the balance between pleasure, leisure and nature needed to be redressed.


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He said the new maximum speed limits were:

n eight knots in seawards approaches to the backwaters and West Water;

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n six knots in all creeks and channels leading off West Water;

n four knots or less in congested areas, such as near quays.

The only exceptions are for rescue craft and racing dinghies.

Mr Wilkinson said: “We have had speed limits for a long time of eight knots, but Walton backwaters is becoming much more congested as it is a favourite spot for visitors and locals.

“In the interests of safety and for conservation of the wildlife we decided it was necessary to tackle it and encourage yachtsmen to reduce their speed in areas like creeks and channels.

“We are hoping to maintain the backwaters in a safe and user-friendly manner,” he added.

Boats going too quickly could also cause excessive wash which was dangerous to swimmers and other sailors, Mr Wilkinson said.

It was also hazardous to birds which fed their young in shallow water.

“Power and sailing yachtsmen old and new are equally guilty,” he said.

“New entrants need to build their skills and knowledge of nautical rules and etiquette - old hands should be providing good examples.”

Mr Wilkinson said the management committee had agreed the new speed recommendations with English Nature, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Tendring District Council.

The district council is now applying for local by-laws to be adjusted to allow the new speed limits.

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