Harbourmasters expecting the end of scrubbing posts

Fears that British yachtsmen may soon be banned from scrubbing weed and barnacles off their boats’ bottoms have been voiced by harbourmasters in some of Britain’s most popular cruising ports.

Some are expecting to be told to rip up their traditional scrubbing posts and impose fines on sailors who scrub off alongside their quays.

Strict bans have been in force for some time in Germany and the Netherlands, because of environmental damage from antifoul runoff.

France made hull scrubbing illegal in November, which has raised fears that Britain may follow suit to comply with a European Union directive.

Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners’ spokeswoman, Caroline Shotton, told YM: ‘I suspect it is only a question of time before we have to fit a collection and dispersal facility.’

David Evans, harbourmaster on the Hamble River, said: ‘In parts of Europe you can end up in jail for scrubbing off in places without the proper facilities.’

Mr Evans said that although there are two sets of public scrubbing posts and one private set on the Hamble, they are now referred to as ‘maintenance piles’, for changing anodes or removing ropes from props, because ‘we don’t want to encourage scrubbing off’.

Caroline Price, environment advisor at the RYA, said the UK Government has already considered issuing licences for hull cleaning, making yachtsmen pay for the privilege of scrubbing off weed and barnacles.

She said the idea was only dropped when the RYA explained how difficult it would be to enforce controlled scrubbing.

For more on this story see the April issue of Yachting Monthly.

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