Monday, 23 December 2013

Broads Control update - Christmas cover

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Rangers, standby staff and a duty manager provide cover over the Christmas period. The area is still patrolled by vehicle and by launch, and moorings are checked for general safety and for over-stayers.

There were some strong winds and trees were down at Filby boardwalk, Whitlingham, Carrow Bridge and Lime Kiln Dyke. There was also a call to a seal pup at Berney Arms moorings. It was checked, advice obtained and the pup was gone the next day.

There were a couple of thefts of outboards from the mid-Waveney area.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Control update - Pontoon escorted to Cantley

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Two ranger vessels escorted a large pontoon being towed to Cantley on Tuesday 17th December. It had come over from Rotterdam towed by a large seagoing tug and was then transferred to a couple of smaller tugs for transit to Cantley.

The rig made good progress and was quickly unloaded. The tow returned to Breydon Water the following day and completed the passage through the Breydon and Haven Bridge on Thursday. The tug skippers were very skilful and did a good job transiting Reedham Bridge. Unfortunately two steel posts on the River Yare and one post on Breydon Water were damaged during the tow. These have been marked and the shipping agents have been informed that we will be claiming for the repairs.

Rangers and a volunteer spent a day clearing large debris from storm surge from the banks of Breydon Water. There were several timber pieces the size of railway sleepers that would have been a hazard to navigation had they refloated.

This week one of the rangers who is a qualified instructor held a class to teach the rest of the team break away self-defence techniques which is a new skill that we hope never to have to use.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Control update - a quiet week

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

For anyone looking for an unusual Christmas present two of the traditional ranger patrol launches will shortly be coming up for sale, just in time for the festive season. Watch this space!

Last week rangers were mainly been focusing on investigating alleged toll offences while also providing escort for flood alleviation work in preparation for winter.

A depth and vegetation survey was also undertaken on the middle Bure area and tree work continues on the Waveney and Bure..

A navigation post snapped off near the waterline on Barton Broad and was marked by the rangers. Divers will be used to cut off this and another post at bed level.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Rangers deal with further thefts - control update

Ranger teams have helped police find another stolen boat following a large-scale emergency response to the theft at Thorpe.

The police investigation is ongoing.

The boat which was found last week near Wroxham was reported adrift again and rangers were called to help recovery. It is now believed to have either been stolen or the subject of a dispute.

Volunteers have assisted with the continuedscrub clearance and tree work throughout the system. This work will be ongoing through the winter season, clearing overgrowth away from the navigation and footpaths.

Rangers supported more Environment Agency fishing patrols and at least one angler had his equipment seized on suspicion of not being legally licensed.

A Ranger found a dangerous tree overhanging a boardwalk at Irstead. He taped it off and over the following couple of days a team took to their chainsaws to dispose of it.

Teams have also been carrying out a number of escorts as dredging and piling equipment is being moved around to new locations, and stocks of piles are located ready.

The Energy Power Network engineer spent a day with the Breydon launch surveying cable crossings and their signs.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Control update - Off duty rangers help find stolen boat

Two off duty rangers helped recover a stolen boat following a call from a worried yard owner.

The  pair volunteered to search for the drifting private vessel upstream of Wroxham on Wednesday with two boatyard staff.

They located it and it was then found to be stolen.

The Police and Humber Coastguard  were also informed and, as there were no missing person reports, it was agreed that they would monitor the situation while rangers checked the river the following day.

Rangers are now helping police investigate the theft and other offences.

A vessel sank near Thorpe last Monday and two operations supervisors attended in a workboat using oil spill booms to deal with the small pollution incident.

Rangers also dealt with a drifting boat at West Somerton and assisted a broken down vessel at Wroxham.

In more routine work joint patrols with Environment Agency officers continued in the Thurne area while one ranger attended a meeting of the Upper Thurne Working Group.

Rangers patrolled the system during the weekend by boat and land and have been involved in tree work with volunteers on the Yare, Waveney and Upper Bure.

Training of volunteer rangers continues by the various teams.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Special meeting of the Navigation Committee

A special meeting of the Navigation Committee will take place at Yare House on Friday 22 November.

The agenda for the meeting, which starts at 9am, will be published next Friday 15 November on the Broads Authority website in the Navigation Committee agendas section here.


Thursday, 7 November 2013

Summer season comes to end - control update

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The end of the summer season has arrived and we have said goodbye for another year to our seasonal staff.

There are have been a couple of meetings to review the year and at generally it was agreed that attendance at yacht stations and moorings have been down.

The rangers had a combined visit and briefing with the Lowestoft Coastguard unit staff and Suffolk Fire and Rescue station personnel.

Staff saw the equipment and capabilities of the emergency services and discussed joint working at incidents.

In the afternoon each of the five ranger teams had to give an end of season presentation and report which provided the highlights of a busy year. The teams are keen to show those reports to clubs ,societies and the public in their areas. Should anyone wish to see them please contact Broads Control on 01603 756056.

Norfolk police launched their new vessel this week and are keen to patrol problem areas on the Broads. The rangers work closely with Broads Beat in particular and the new boat will be an additional asset for the Broads.

There was one incident of a person on vessel suspected to have been suffering from a heart attack. The person later  discharged themselves from hospital before the police had a chance to speak to them.

Training for the staff continues and on Thursday there was an internal course on fire beating and general fire management.

The week has been busy with escorting large rigs mainly on the River Yare.

Rangers have also been undertaking some tree clearance, repositioning buoys and taking the first launches in for their annual winter refitting. Other work has included adjacent water enforcement and dealing with overstayers on 24 hour moorings.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Storm news and latest Broads control update

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Following a quiet weekend staff were kept busy at the beginning of the week when the strong winds hit the Broads.

On Monday at Oulton Broad a house boat sank and another vessel dragged its mooring, Authority staff assisted with the marking and recovery.

One hire vessel was hit by a tree at a public mooring at Loddon on Monday and two Rangers, having just cleared a few small trees at Whitlingham, dealt with the problem.

Big waves at Breydon Water meant it was closed to hire traffic later in the day. But, despite hirers being advised not to cross Breydon earlier in the day by their yards and Authority quay assistants, it didn’t stop them trying.

They were kept out of trouble however by rangers and staff at Breydon Bridge keeping watch.
At Berney Arms a man fell in and was rescued by his family one of whom injured her finger. The man was airlifted to hospital but was released later in the day.

Elsewhere in the broads a few small trees came down but there were no significant incidents.
The following day on Tuesday the rangers dealt with some small trees at Coltishall and generally checked the system. 

Late on Tuesday afternoon when it was already dark a distraught visitor raised the alarm that her husband,  who was not an experienced canoeist, was overdue from a trip on the Waveney.

Broads Control contacted the coastguard and three off duty went to assist in the search but just as it had started the canoeist arrived back. He had been wearing a buoyancy aid but was dressed in dark clothing and had painted his canoe black so would have been very difficult to spot in the dark had he capsized. He also wasn’t carrying a means of communication.

The search was called off and he received words of advice from one of the rangers as well as his wife.
The previous Friday the local ranger together with volunteers continued tree clearance work on the Thorpe New Cut and we have now returned to more routine work including moving on over stayers at moorings, escorts of large work rigs on the Southern Broads and sorting out several allegations of failing to stop damage only incidents.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Latest Broads control update

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Sadly a Broads Authority staff member had to help police officers and the fire and rescue service recover a body from the river Wensum near the law courts in Norwich on Tuesday.

Officers from Norfolk Constabulary are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery after a member of the public raised the alarm at around 4.10pm.

The Authority has also been working with police to interview a man at Wymondham police station following an incident involving public order and Broads byelaws at Rockland Staithe earlier in the year.

He was charged with a number offences including  not navigating with care and caution, helming under the influence of drink or drugs and playing loud music. He was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £230.

The Breydon patrol this morning (Thursday) are assisting a broken down survey vessel in the bridge hole while there reports of a vessel on fire turned out to be smoke caused by oil dropping on the engine manifold.

Rangers have also been undertaking joint patrols with the Environment Agency fishing bailiffs in the Wroxham, Horning and Potter Heigham areas. Several anglers were reported for not having fishing licences and not attending their rods.

Routine work has included dealing with complaints of anglers not giving way to boats at Bramerton and investigation work on prosecution case files.

And after the high tides and strong winds last week a number of dead fish were found in the River Thurne. A number of barge escorts which were cancelled due to high winds are now being undertaken in the Yare and Waveney.

Rangers have been engaged in tree work upstream of Wroxham plus cutting and brushcutting in the Thurne. Others have undertaken footpath surveys and have attended parish council meetings.

More tree work has been undertaken by rangers on the river banks at Thorpe.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Whitlingham barn café soon under new management

The café at Whitlingham barn will soon be under new management following a complete refurbishment.

A competitive tender process was carried out by the Broads Authority which awarded the contract to run the concession to Churchill Catering which also operates the café at Thetford High Lodge.

Indication is that the café will close from November 10 for substantial improvements and re-open around the end of the month.

Exact dates and details will be confirmed here as soon as they are available.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Navigation Committee will look at new toll setting on Thursday

Members of the Broads Authority's Navigation Committee will be meeting next Thursday, 24 October, to discuss options for the navigation budget and navigation charges (tolls) among other items.

The meeting starts at 1pm at Yare House, 62 to 64, Thorpe Road, Norwich, NR1 1RY. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

The full agenda is here.

Latest Broads control update

(Apologies for the lack of update over the past few weeks - we will be posting more regular updates in the future)

By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

The winds and tides which had caused havoc across much of the county last Thursday turned out to be not too much of a problem for Broads rangers despite the fact that the bow spray had been landing on the cabin roof of one hire boat which had left early to cross Breydon.

High tides were predicted but the only problem caused by the weather were two trees which had come down on the River Waveney in the high winds.

On Saturday a vessel was reported drifting at Acle and it was at first thought that the owner was on board and the worst was feared but the owner was found safe and well and the vessel was resecured.

At the same time police nearby were investigating a theft from a digger, which may be part of a possible minor spate of crime near the river at Acle. A Hardy 17 vessel which was found sunk at Stokesby after being stolen from Acle was recovered on Friday.

A vessel ran aground at turn tide witnessed by the Breydon launch crew who quickly assisted in refloating the hire boat.

We have been dealing with some persistent over stayers at two 24 hr. mooring on the Yare. Eight prosecution case papers have been handed in by the rangers following the busy summer months.

I joined the EA fisheries team on Wednesday afternoon as they raised the fish barrier at Potter Heigham which allows fish to find sanctuary from saltwater surges.

Work has been started on the replacement Horsey viewpoint and the rangers have been engaged in tree work in Thorpe.

The Breydon Team Rangers hosted the Breydon Users Group meeting at the Gt.Yarmouth Tourist Information Centre.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Collisions and calamities - latest Broads control update

Last week staff were on hand to help a woman who had fallen in when mooring at the entrance to Womack Water, although she was none the worse for her soaking.

And when a day boat crew left Reedham Quay without starting the engine a quay attendant was on hand with a throwing line and managed to sort them out.

While leaving Herringfleet mooring a hire vessel caused damage to a private boat when it accidentally struck it.

And on Barton Broad a 4mph sign suffered a heavy strike from an unknown vessel and a temporary repair was carried out.

Meanwhile Yare team rangers have been working with volunteers clearing bank side trees in Thorpe and Waveney Team rangers have also been undertaking tree work.

The installation of lay-by dolphins on Breydon Water has continued along with the dredging on the Lower Bure.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Wet and windy weather

The weather has changed this week and there have been some big tides which have meant some unpleasant conditions on Breydon Water. It has also slowed the work of installing new dolphins upstream of Breydon Bridge.

Three rangers gave evidence at court this week in a Broads Authority prosecution. The magistrates found the defendant not guilty and we have learnt some lessons from the case.

Some real muscle power was needed by the operation technicians to remove an obstruction to navigation at Potter Heigham. It turned out to be a full size electric cooker that had been dumped by someone.

The Quay attendant at Norwich Yacht Station and a member of the public rescued a woman from the river in Norwich yesterday. (Thursday 12th Sept)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

River drama and cases filed

There was drama on the Bure when it was was shut for two hours at Great Yarmouth  after a fire involving gas cylinders broke out.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service requested a 200 metre exclusion zone to deal with the blaze but as the closure was around high water there was minimum disruption.

Broads Authority quay assistants from Great Yarmouth Yacht Station, the Spirit of Breydon crew and ranger volunteers all helped to manage the situation last Thursday.

Elsewhere the waterways had quietened down enabling rangers to complete some of the case files relating to incidents over the past few weeks.

Five files were submitted to solicitors this week regarding offences, relating mainly to speeding and navigating without care and caution.

Yesterday a ranger and a Broads Beat officer jointly carried out an interview at Wymondham Custody Centre which has resulted in the suspect being charged with public order and Broads Authority offences.

Rangers also spent time taking statements about various other incidents.

Among last week's incidents a ranger and a volunteer rescued an entangled swan at Salhouse, cutting away fishing line from around its neck to free it.

Other incidents involved a large tree trunk in the river at Reedham, a vessel with a fouled prop at Reedham and a report of a diesel spill at Wayford Bridge.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Bank Holiday...

 By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Last week Yare team rangers working at Whitlingham Country Park reported they had "survived" the teddies bear’s picnic which was attended by 300 children. The children, with their parents, bring their teddies and a picnic and take part in a treasure hunt plus badge and dragonfly making. There were a number of big events across the Broads in a weekend that ended up being sunny and warm.
Barton Regatta was held over the bank holiday weekend and was very well attended. Other events included the Reedham Duck Race which again, was very well attended with a very large crowd on the quay.
Sunday evening (25th August) on the River Waveney saw some alleged anti-social behaviour and dangerous helming of a speedboat, which unfortunately ended in the vessel turning over. Police and Coastguard attended and luckily for those on board, there were no reported injuries. Rangers have now taken statements and will be interviewing the alleged offenders in the near future.
Bank holiday afternoon was busy with the powerboat racing on Oulton Broad, followed by a firework display. The rangers on duty were supplemented by Broads Beat officers. Apparently a large fight took place on land but all was quiet on the water.
Rangers have also been involved in investigating a number of additional cases, from failing to stop incidents to skiing and speeding offences. Investigation of these cases involves taking statements and interviewing suspects, and at the moment there is an unusually high number of case files being compiled.
Thursday was late night training for the new Broads rangers, who have now completed their course. Other staff who perform standby duties also attended the session, and a rigorous day of incident/towing training was implemented followed by night navigation using the gps, chart plotter and radar plus good old fashioned compass and spotlight. Training was suspended when a small inflatable plastic boat with two young people on board was seen by Bure Mouth.

Words of advice were going to be given but it was quickly established that they were in trouble and were hanging onto an old wooden dolphin surrounded by old wooden stakes. They were quickly recovered onto the Spirit of Breydon launch and landed safely. They had purchased the plastic boat that day, and were totally unaware of the dangers of launching from the area in front of a supermarket car park at Gt Yarmouth. They were not wearing lifejackets and so the incident could have ended very badly.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Drama... and Dinosaurs

 By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

It’s not often rangers ask “Can I speak to the dinosaur that was helming the boat earlier please?” But after the crew of a hire boat, who dressed as animals for the weekend, had been seen speeding on the River Ant that was indeed how a conversation started.

All issues were resolved and the “dinosaur” was advised regarding the future helming of the vessel.

There was drama for the Breydon Team recently- they were returning from a site visit on Breydon Water when a crew member from a hire boat fell in along the quay.

Apparently the chap hit the water and then seemed to throw himself straight back out which given the current in that area was surely a good move on his part.

The Yare Team Rangers at Whitlingham Country Park felled an extremely large Sycamore tree in the main car park, which had been inspected and declared unsafe. All the Broads Authority’s full-time rangers have chain saw qualifications, and two are trained as climbers, meaning we can often deal with situations like this. Ranger Jonathan Cook thinned out the upper branches of the tree so it could be felled, and the large trunk and branch pieces will be “recycled” and put to good use -in a forthcoming major emergencies exercise. The tree work had to be undertaken at the busiest time of year but fortunately no problems were encountered.

The Breydon Team had another busy day when the Coastguard received three emergency calls almost at the same time. Two were for the same vessel (but in different locations), the other for Bure Mouth at Great Yarmouth. The first vessel was aground and managed to refloat itself; the second was also aground but had tipped over at an alarming angle. Unfortunately the passengers- a young mother with two children- were alarmed and distressed, and wanted to be taken off the vessel. The Breydon crew and inshore rescue boat both attended but due to very shallow water the family were helped off by a nearby private inflatable safety boat.

Thursday saw another emergency when a hire boat hit (and was briefly stuck under) St Olaves Bridge. It seems luck played a part- the helmsman was trying to turn but got caught by the current. He suffered slight arm injuries, and the vessel a smashed screen, but both were quickly sorted and he was soon underway again.

The Waveney Team were out late on 22nd August, targeting speeding vessels. They stopped two fast inflatable boats for tolls offences and then the best “policeman” in the world stepped in and calmed things down- as the heavens opened and the rain began.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Control update - season hots up

Despite a slow start to the season due to cold weather earlier this year the recent warm days have seen visitor numbers dramatically pick up.

On Thursday the River Bure at Thurne mouth was so busy that one of the rangers needing to turn his launch round had to wait 10 minutes before it was safe and clear.

Rangers sent out a warning about tyres after recovering a total of 15 which had been dumped in the river near Cantley. Aside from the waste issue they are a nuisance to the Authority and a danger to skiers.

Police this week asked for help in looking out for the crew of a boat that may have been involved in a crime but it wasn’t until rangers had stopped the crew to speak to them that they discovered suspicions that a knife may have been used although in the end it was established that these fears were unfounded.

A new tranche of staff underwent training this week at the dockyard in Thorpe involving dealing with various scenarios including boat fires, drifting vessels, sinking vessels, pollution, searching for missing persons, preserving crime scenes and working with the emergency services.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Control update - dramatic rescues and damaging distractions

Spirit of Breydon with rangers John Ragan and Jon Hopes
Photo: Eastern Daily Press/Simon Finlay
By Adrian Vernon, Head of Ranger Services

Hot weather continues to bring out dangerous behaviour as last week several groups of day boat hirers were involved in both navigation byelaw offences and public order incidents.

In two of these incidents rangers were threatened with violence and police officers had to attend. Broads Beat officers are still investigating after some of the suspects decamped while on their way back to the hire yards.

A child's spilt drink resulted in a hire boat striking a moored private barge at Great Yarmouth causing considerable damage to the hire vessel and minor injuries to a passenger.

The hirer said he was distracted by the spilt drink and the collision resulted in his wife suffering minor injuries. But the hire yard quickly provided a replacement boat so the family could carry on with their holiday.

A number of speeding incidents have been recorded throughout the Broads network with rangers busy doing radar checks and in some cases taking statements from witnesses and interviewing suspects.

Environment Agency officers and Broads Beat are continuing to support the Authority on late patrols.

The Broads Authority pollution trailer was deployed to a large oil and diesel spill on the upper Ant. BA staff worked with the Environment Agency to boom the site and deal with the spill. The search for the offending vessel is continuing.

And lastly rangers made the news after a dramatic rescue of a seven-year-old boy and his father at Great Yarmouth on Wednesday.

The boy fell in the water near Vauxhall Road bridge while crabbing and his father went in to rescue him but both got into trouble in the strong tide.

Spirit of Breydon patrol boat was scrambled and helped rescue father and son from the water helped by people aboard a passing hire boat. The drama, which was reported in the Eastern Daily Press (link) came just two days after an EDP journalist went out with Spirit and reported how vital she is for the Authority to ensure the safety of boaters on and around Breydon (link).