Lake water is so shallow boats are now getting stuck, says sailing club
By The Bristol Post | Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 05:00
SAILING club members who use Portishead Lake to train cadets are looking at ways for it to be dredged because their boats keep getting caught up in the silt.
Portishead Lake is popular with members of the town's sailing club but is now only 3ft deep in places
Portishead Yacht and Sailing Club has been using the lake at the Lake Grounds for more than 20 years to train its cadets using small sailing dinghies.
Each year between 20 and 30 cadets are trained in basic boating skills and receive a Royal Yachting Association qualification.
But club leaders now say it is becoming increasingly difficult to use the lake because it is silted up, meaning the boat's rudders and centre boards keep getting stuck in the mud.
They say because of the levels of silt around the lake, the water is now only around 3ft deep, making using the dinghies difficult.
The club, which trains on the lake between May and September, is now looking at alternative options including using Portishead Marina.
And it is also discussing the possibility of dredging the lake with North Somerset Council.
The authority, which owns the Lake Grounds, has considered dredging the lake in the past following concerns it was becoming silted up.
But because of the estimated high cost of any work, it has yet to be carried out.
Portishead Yacht and Sailing Club commodore, Paul Roberts, said: "Over the years, because of the silting up, the lake has become slowly shallower and shallower.
"When we have been practising capsizing, some of the cadets have found it difficult to swim because the water is so shallow.
"We use small dinghies on the lake which have centre boards and when the cadets put them right down they often attach themselves to the bottom and then become stuck. The problem has become more and more noticeable over the last couple of years and is starting to cause problems.
"We are looking at other options including using the marina and the possibility of dredging the lake.
"It is only very early days at the moment and we need to get an understanding of whether dredging is feasible and what the costs may be and have been discussing the matter with the council."
Mr Roberts said grants may be available as part of Olympic legacy funding for groups which encourage young people to get involved in sport.
The sailing club would apply for the money, with the backing of North Somerset, to fund any future dredging scheme.
Mr Roberts added: "We fully understand the constraints of the council at the moment and we are looking to see what we can do to move any project forward."
The lake is also used for the town's annual fundraising raft race, with competitors complaining in the past about the levels of mud and silt in the bottom of the lake.
North Somerset Council spokesman, Richard Turner, said: "We understand that there may be grant funding available to carry out dredging work at the lake.
"We are keen to see whether this work can be done and need to assess the costs and feasibility before we can move forward."