I cruised the Norfolk Broads continuously for several years. In addition, I still work towards completing an extensive restoration and modification project aimed at sailing to further shores.
Whilst travelling the waterways, at times I would come across a vessel that appeared as a makeshift shelter. Often static and poorly equipped for it's purpose.
These sightings were most common just inside and outside of Norwich city.
Clearly these were not boaters generally but more likely people who had fallen through society and ended up homeless in a boat.
Norwich city seems to have a large population of troubled souls and many shop fronts appear to have people rough sleeping.
A nightmare scenario for most people and sleeping on a boat must be an appealing and simple solution to housing problems.
Often drink, drugs and mental health play a key role, however, these problems hinder an individual's attempts to make living on a boat a realistic long-term solution.
Many boats remain in an unfit state, not insured and do on many occasions sink on the waterways.
So what is the solution to a housing problem which manifests its way on to the Norfolk Broads?
Admittedly, this is an issue which holds no immediate solution.
In addition, under the current economic climate, it is a scenario that will grow exponentially.
Many folks will make a legitimate decision to sell up and move on to a boat. If you get the right boat it can be a wonderful experience and one that many truly envy.
However, for people to end up sleeping on derelict boats outside of a city because there is no where else means the council of the area needs to step in and step up.
Norwich city has serious levels of social problems and compared to other cities, it's population of rough sleepers is way out of proportion.
I am not sure whether any water based solutions can exist as long as living on a boat is so heavily discriminated against.
It appears that whether you live on a £25,000 boat or one pulled out of the reeds, prejudice is prevalent amongst too many.
This creates an uneasy resentment and I have experienced this myself.
At times, I have been disgusted by some people's comments. Especially from well known and frequent commenters on online platforms. Many who in fact claim to moderate these platforms.
The fact of the matter is these people are part of the problem and have nothing to offer in forms of solutions.
They are just idiots and nothing more.
Solutions to any issue are found in people working towards a common purpose as a one or a team.
When people discriminate and actively abuse them online, then their value to a solution is worthless.
The Broads Authority and other agencies are ill equipped, ill prepared and unable to deal with social issues that find their way into marine issues.
Personally, I predict that if the local authorities don't change the way illegal boaters are dealt with. Anything from untolled, uninsured boats, sunken and abandoned boats, flytipping, drink and drugs and then the problem will grow out of proportion rapidly.
It's not about clamping down and getting heavy, it's about eradication of illegal boaters.
If a car is not taxed, it is destroyed.
If someone is operating a vessel drunk? Prosecute them.
There was a situation recently where someone moored several boats on a public staithe for three years with impunity.
If that was a vehicle on public roads, it would have been removed.
Seeking shelter is one thing but squatting and trespassing is another.
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