Council public jetty rules has cruising yachties frustrated
CRUISING yachties are up in arms about council's decision to get tough on those not adhering to berthing regulations at Whitsunday public jetties, but council has no plans to relax regulations.
In April, the Whitsunday Regional Council "expressed concern” some boaties were overstaying the maximum 30 minute berthing time and stated officers will be increasing patrols at all public jetties.
The increased patrols have spurred backlash from yachties who claim 30 minutes is not long enough to go shopping, have a meal, get a haircut or visit the doctor.
Former Whitsunday local who operated the shark museum in Airlie Beach during the 1970s and '80s, Pearce Mitchell, this week spoke out about what he considered an unreasonable policy.
"It should be two hours. If you put two hours on it you would not get a peep out of anyone,” he said.
"You don't want your dinghy towed away when you are coming in to spend some money.”
The Whitsunday Regional Council stopped short of confirming it was aware of objection by the boating fraternity but did state it had "received inquiries” about mooring regulations.
"The 30 minute time limit was to ensure access is readily available having regard to the high usage of the pontoons by all members of the public,” a spokesman said.
Council said there had been no change in policy and the 30 minute limit had always been in place.
"The pontoons are for the benefit of all community members and are required to be readily available for access to land especially in times of emergency.”
Mr Mitchell said council had their priorities all wrong and believed it was understood in the early days the importance of providing ease of access to the shore for boaties.
The owner of the 40 foot Lagoon catamaran said he was a part of group that cleared rocks restricting the passage of tenders at Airlie Creek so boaties could easily get ashore.
"They should be encouraging us to come in but there are big signs up and it's just unappealing,” he said.
"We will probably spend $1000 by the time you buy a bit of booze and groceries and go down to Bunnings,” he said.
Acknowledging people living aboard boats and cruising visitors didn't pay land rates to council, Mr Mitchell said the ratepayers of the region do benefit from itinerant boat users during the winter.
"If the council was looking after the ratepayers they would be supporting us guys who are supporting them,” he said.
Another yachtsman Les Graham, living and cruising aboard his 44 foot Beneteau Oceanis, agreed 30 minutes was not long enough but
"We don't dilly and dally as we only have 30 minutes, but we always go over the time limit,” he said.
Mr Graham said the huge cost of a marina berth meant tying up at a public jetty was the only option.
The penalty for contravention of the 30 minute berthing limit is $261.
Also, a compliance notice may also be issued requiring removal of a tender exceeding the time limit for which an infringement notice of $652 may be issued.
A failure to comply with a compliance notice could result in the tender being confiscated and a release fee $510 can be charged.
Council stated a long stay permit can be applied for and an areas for mooring longer than 30 minutes are available.