Future of Norfolk wherries in doubt, claims skipper
Do the people of Norfolk want their wherries or not?
That’s the stark question being put by the skipper of the Hathor pleasure wherry, Peter Bower.
It comes after the Broads Authority (BA) changed its policy by preventing moorings from being reserved.
It means that wherry operators can longer reserve a specific spot for their 70ft-long boats, which take up as much space as three motorboats.
This has already led to Wroxham-based Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust (WYC) cancelling a day of 30-minute trips from Ranworth staithe on Saturday, August 4.
Mr Bower said: “This will probably be my last year of full-time skippering. I’ve been doing it since 1974. But I feel so frustrated and angry to be leaving it in the state it’s in.
“Do the people of Norfolk want their wherries or not? I think they are an endangered species.
“Wherries have been part of the Broadland landscape for 400 years.
“The BA’s first boss Aitken Clark was very supportive of wherries. They were recognised for their cultural heritage. But recently the BA has become more negative.
“This new policy puts Norfolk wherries severely at risk. Wherries are a symbol of Norfolk.”
He added that a stopover trip to Norwich and Great Yarmouth later this month might have to be cancelled, because overnight moorings at the yacht stations could not be guaranteed.
A Broads Authority spokesperson said: “We continue to be a great supporter of all the surviving wherries, both those owned by Wherry Yacht Charter, the Norfolk Wherry Trust and Wherry Maud Trust. They are an important part of the area’s cultural heritage.
“In terms of mooring at the two yacht stations, we ..... will make sure we find appropriate mooring space.
“The position at Ranworth is very different, with a short length of mooring at the public staithe which is heavily used by visitors to the Broads. We have to be fair to all users of our busy 24-hour moorings and yacht stations which is why we have stated is that in order to accommodate everyone we are no longer able to reserve a specific spot for any particular boat.”