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Is It Safe To Go Out On The Norfolk Broads Yet?

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Is It Safe To Go Out On The Norfolk Broads Yet?

Post by Miles » October 21st, 2019, 6:46 pm

Norfollk broads Boat Hire 3.png
One common quote I have heard over and over again this Norfolk Broads 2019 boating season is from private boaters looking forward to autumn.
Why? you might ask.
The answer is simple...the hire boats disappear...well almost.
The only reason folks are looking forward to this is that they can go boating with a far diminished risk of getting their boat smashed up by a hire boat. :roll:
That may sound a bit harsh and to be quite honest it is quite harsh.
It is a harsh reality sadly that the Norfolk Broads is affected so negatively by these boats but it is what it is and anyone who spends any time on the rivers will know that it is factual.
It is not prejudiced in any way at all.
The large hire boat industry is a terrible burden to any frequent private boater and to those who are not convinced, try it for a few days or weeks in the summer and you will soon find out the shocking burden this industry places on others.
I chose to time it well this year and to avoid Broads Authority moorings unless it was completely necessary.
On Easter Weekend I was enjoying a drink outside at Sutton Staithe Hotel whilst moored at Sutton Staithe.
A friend quickly notified me that a large hire boat had just hit the sailboat I was using at the time.
I went over and was concerned by the number of onlookers.
I very quickly found out that this hire boat had just hit three boats in succession including mine.
I got the attention of the chap who was at the helm of this top steered hire boat and when he asked me what I wanted, I politely told him that he had just hit three boats.
To my total surprise, he replied, 'So what, I have not done any damage'.
Not that he would know either way as he never looked back once.
By this time numerous private boat owners and half the staff at Sutton Boatyard were watching as boats in the yard had been hit too.
I politely asked him to fill out an accident report form in his boat and hand it back into the office at the depot when he returned the boat.
Twice I reiterated this to him and twice I was met with a complete refusal to accept any responsibility for his actions.
The boatyard employee commented on his appalling attitude and by this time another crew member came out the back of the boat in an aggressive stance.
I was convinced this chap at the helm was intoxicated because it was like talking to an idiot.
So it was totally apparent that I was wasting my time and having got so fed up with his attitude, I turned around and walked away.
As I walked away I had a stream of verbal abuse shouted at me.
Shortly I was to be complemented by bar customers on remaining cool with drunken idiots at the helm who basically could not give a f**k.
There comes a time when you have just had enough of getting abuse and attitude from hire boaters who just don't give about their actions.
I later found out that the boat that was hit in the slipway had its own bathing deck damaged and three planks were smashed to pieces.
On watching the CCTV footage it was unclear what was the actual boat's name, and number, however, the boatyard was clearly identifiable.
The lesson learned here was always to get the name and number as it happens. Cases like this looking back in hindsight I should have reported it to the Broads Authority and I would assume that if a situation warranted it they would contact the river police, Broads Beat.
A friend of mine had a Summercraft boat whack his boat's transom and had an awful time getting the matter resolved. He was even subjected to two employees coming to see his vessel and deny responsibility and also intimidate the boat owner. Eventually, the matter was resolved but he still had to fix his boat and be left out of pocket.

After the Easter Weekend, I decided there and then that I would not tolerate any more abuse or lack of responsibility from any other boaters.

Sadly it did not stop there, I got sideswiped again. In fact, I saw it unfolding and politely asked the woman on the deck to fend off.
She didn't and the boat banged.
To be honest, she stood there looking totally gormless and I said to her in a very calm and polite manner, 'You must fend off'.
She refused to acknowledge me in any shape or form and didn't even look at me.
I took it in my stride as I thought I had got away without any damage yet later realised they had snapped two brass bolts in the wooden rubbing strake which was now hanging off in an area.

Today, a boat nearly smashed up my little Broom with their transom as she turned around completely oblivious to her boat's backend swinging around like an articulated truck drifting.

So my personal opinion is that I am so glad this mayhem is over again.

One thing I will add though is that I got to skipper a 38-foot hire boat this summer and I was really surprised how difficult it can be to moor up these vessels.
I totally get that, I really do.
I think it is crazy to allow people to take out such large boats without the skill level to do so safely...it is nothing short of madness.
In addition, as long as Norfolk Broads boat hirers are given the option to hire these boats with a collision damage waiver then the problem will never go away because the responsibility required to helm such large boats will never be practiced.
Why would anyone give a toss about what they hit if they are never going to be held responsible for their actions?

To all those boat hirers who do helm with care and caution and respect other people's boats, I commend you, I really do.
To all those who don't, stay off the Norfolk Broads!
To all those hire boat companies who don't take responsibility for their vessells and who can hire them, you are a virus on the Norfolk Broads which will ultimately ruin these wonderful rivers and lakes.
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