Even though there is the prospect of some lovely days on the water still to be had, a sense of the beginning of autumn is inescapable. Of course our autumns can be fantastic! Wonderful colours, a new sense of quiet after the hurly-burly of the summer, and migratory birds leaving with the winter residents arriving – looking back from the water to the rising land, stubbles and new plough and the reassuring sight of Blakeney church dominant on the skyline. Far in the early morning golden hazy distance the East Hills at Wells. A time for some quiet reflection.
For BHA that’s remembering fun events, achieving a really successful season of completed projects, the finances sound, sadly a nasty incident with three dinghies swept out over the West Sands – lessons learnt! And thankfully no one hurt ( or worse ). And who would have thought we would have had a gift catalogue for Christmas!
For this and much more read on! My personal thanks to all of you, and there are very many, who make the Harbour Association what it is
Jim Temple, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Blakeney Harbour Association
First of all has anybody any ideas what we should do with this?
It’s one of the heaving posts, probably the last one, that were used to haul vessels up to Blakeney quay. As you can see Neil has recovered it and what we need now is as much history as we can get about it, but, as importantly, what to do with it? It’s an important remnant of Blakeney’s maritime past so ideas please! We really would appreciate suggestions and contributions. And the White Horse will sponsor a dinner for the winning suggestion!
Photographs from this year’s very successful “thank you” BBQ
The summer meeting heard of the progress that had been made with both the Crown Estate and on the Fielden Legacy. So we have repeated these below for members who may have missed the “story so far”.
Crown Estate Report
Members may recall that Trustees reported to the Annual General Meeting that the Crown Estate had approached the Association earlier in the year. A meeting was held with the Crown from which the following two points arose:
i) BHA was asked to provide such evidence as it was able to that might support a “Free Harbour status” at Blakeney
ii) the Crown would draft an agreement to document the work which BHA does on Crown land (the National Trust would be kept informed as any agreement with the Crown would be likely to be replicated with the National Trust).
The ability to understand what a “Free Harbour” in Blakeney means is clearly important to members both in preserving BHA’s rights to carry out its important safety work but also more generally.
The work completed to date by your Association has revealed:
Free Harbour Status by way of Royal Charter. This is proving to be a longer and more complicated process than we might have expected. With some of the documents being in ancient Latin and stored at the National Archive there is more searching to be done. We have found no obvious or clear-cut authority but continue to look
There are other basis’ which may enable certain rights, supporting a Free Harbour concept, and which might be arguable in favour of BHA and its members. Many of these rights apply to moorings as well as directional buoyage:
Possessory Title/Adverse Possession. What might be known as squatter’s rights. We have looked at a variety of cases in an attempt to draw out relevant comparisons. We believe it may be possible to pursue an action for possession and the Crown’s website helpfully suggests that they will “consider a properly presented case on its merits and (be) prepared to recognise (these) where a legal case is made out”.
The matter is further complicated by the variety of timescales by which a title may be considered “possessed” and where those timescales differ by reference to the nature of the land in question, generally “foreshore” or “other Crown land”, and finally whether the land has or has not been registered and when. The timescales seem to be between 10 and 60 years.
Different time limits may apply to estuaries, rivers and foreshore’s. Consequently we shall need to establish what parts of Blakeney Harbour are which.
It does seem to be quite clear that the rules around establishing possessory title for land owned by the National Trust are different to those which apply in establishing possessory title for land owned by the Crown. Possessory Title may be able to be established over 10 to 12 years.
The boundary between the National Trust and Crown land is generally (but not always) the Mean High Water Mark. There appear to be three recognised ways of assessing the Mean High Water Mark. It will be necessary to agree how to fix that boundary. Where the boundary line is drawn will result in different outcomes in terms of possessory title.
The footprint of a vessel may be the thing that defines the land that has been possessed. This will vary in tide and wind conditions. The nature of a swinging mooring may take the footprint of a vessel onto Crown land in certain circumstances but onto National Trust land in other conditions.
The Impact of Blakeney Harbour Company. BHC was established in 1817 by act of Parliament and was able to carry out improvements to the harbour and to collect revenue from vessels using the harbour (mooring and or moving goods in the harbour) and we might reasonably assume that in doing so it would have provided some degree of directional buoyage (appropriate to the time). There is no record of the dissolution of the Blakeney Harbour Company. It may therefore be that neither the Crown nor the National Trust possess the rights that the Crown seeks to grant to BHA. In the event that BHC still exists the same possessory title/adverse possession process described above may apply against it.
Customary Rights the public advice from the Crown is that the “legal criteria defining custom are very precise and “quite” difficult to meet” and that where local inhabitants have moored continuously for very many years (which certainly applies to Blakeney) are (places) probably within harbour areas where it is likely that legislation will have overridden any customary rights which might once have existed”. This requires more discussion between all parties
Public Rights of Navigation; there is some case law which suggests that the Public Right of Navigation includes the public right to moor. We have not looked into PRN in any great detail but it would seem logical that if there is a public right to navigate then there should also be a public right to install at the least, navigation aids.
In terms of the form of agreement proposed for ii) above the Crown wrote to the Association on the 12 June with a proposed draft annual licence. The Trustees do not, at this time, feel that it is appropriate to sign a short-term license agreement. Any “Free Harbour” status in Blakeney could well influence the definition of BHA as contemplated in the proposed draft short-term licence agreement and the Trustees believe it is necessary to consider any “Free Harbour” status in detail, first.
As an interim measure BHA has suggested that its work is recorded under a Memorandum of Understanding that would be entered into without prejudice to the position of either party. We await the Crown’s response.
The trustees have written to the Crown at length (copying the National Trust) inviting further discussion with them both to which, at the time of writing this report, the Trust has agreed to. Members will be advised of progress at the AGM or before.
The Henry Fielden legacy report
There is one single asset as far as we know in the Fielden estate comprising a two bedroom apartment in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
We are told the property was constructed 15 years ago approximately. It is part of a complex of around 60 similar apartments constructed around a swimming pool, bar and restaurant area. There are full-time reception, waiting, cleaning and maintenance staff and a resident manager and his wife.
The development is generally well appointed, apparently well run and maintained.
The apartment in question had not been opened for up to 5 years. It has suffered from wood beetle which has now been rectified. The development is three-storey and this apartment is on the middle floor.
The two key obstacles to selling the property are agreeing the appropriate level of tax and funding the fees needed to effect a sale. We are now in regular communication with all parties and expect some resolution within 12 months.
We can only guess at the likely outcome but think that BHA may get somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000.
Get your BHA merchandise here!
With all profits to BHA, why not order those early Christmas presents with our hoodies, polo shirts and hats? Hoodies are £30, the polo shirts are £20 and the hats are just £10. Email us via the website – free home delivery!!
Moving the Fairway buoy May 23rd.
The unseen work being done by Team BHA to enable boats to be launched at Morston
Photos By Anthony Mckee – Our ‘Buoys’
Buoy News & Information
Charlie sent us an email “Martin Law’s son Tom has made all the 65 concrete buoy weights for the smaller (Blakeney and Cley channel) sponsored buoys. He quoted £6 each for making them. I have asked him for an invoice but he has just emailed to say he would like to donate them to BHA, so no charge. Very generous of him I’m sure you will agree. Could you mention this in the next Newsletter?”
And Helen emailed to say:
“Ian Cox (member) found another member’s buoy washed up and they have been reunited thanks to the members list! Happy days… could it get any better?! You might just remind people to let us know the names of their boats if they haven’t already so that this might happen more often. They can email to firstname.lastname@example.org“
Alastair McInnes who looks after the Cley Channel new buoys very helpfully sent us this.
“The Cley channel is now marked with a series of sponsored red, port hand, and green, starboard hand, buoys along with a series of withys some of which have red and green flags. The buoys mark the deepest part of the channel and the withys generally mark steep ledges. The channel is checked regularly at low and high tide. The start of the channel can be safely approached from Morston and Blakeney. Both approaches are marked with red hand buoys which lead you to the start of the channel near the yellow racing buoy No 6 and Welsh’s port hand buoy.
The approach from Blakeney starts at the first red buoy (Stiffkey Red Lion) which is near the large catamaran called Silver Fox. Head north towards the Watch house and Racing buoy No 6. passing near red buoys, Tigger and Welsh’s buoy. At Welsh’s buoy the starboard side of the channel is marked by the green buoy Jonathan Freegard Architects. See diagram below.
The approach from Morston starts near yellow racing buoy No 5 and the first red buoy called the Flower family then passing red buoys DIMS, Howden, Greshams, Ali, Athill and to Welsh’s buoy.
The start of the channel is quite wide look out for the port hand buoys and a few withys on the starboard side one of which is marked with a green flag. From Welsh’s buoy follow the reds Nelly and Bill, Five Kendalls and noting the green Peter Watson to starboard. See diagram below.
Grateful thanks to Joanie McKee and Gill Kay who are stepping down at the end of this season from the membership and fundraising committee. Joanie’s had the difficult task of chairing the committee while spending half her time in Spain and Gill has had her 35th birthday. But both are keen to stay involved so we will be seeing lots of them at events in the future we are sure! Hannah Kelsey who spends much of her time out on the water, and too has done a brilliant job looking after social media for us, is taking over the chair. She’s going to need all the help she can get so if you’re up for folding raffle tickets, flipping burgers, promotional work, planning event and plotting how to raise more money (all or any of these) then she would love to hear from you! Email us via the website.
And, lest we forget the really big achievements, there have been some brilliant acknowledgements – full of praise – for the work that Charlie and his team of volunteers has done with all the new buoys, signs and the Blakeney information centre.
A complete schedule of lights and buoys as at the end of July is on the website.
Now we’ve got a salt water pressure washer to keep all the new sponsored buoys spick-and-span too!
With 50 or so volunteers actively helping BHA at any time we thought that there ought to be a bit more of a welcome and, without making too much of a thing of it, a little bit more organisation in some areas – which trustee was responsible for whom and so on. So Greg got the unenviable challenge of trying to work out what was a sufficient but “light touch” – more to come on this
Somebody said the other day “the harbour is clearer of old wrecks and abandoned boats than it has been for probably 10 years” and that’s all down to Neil and working effectively with the National Trust. There is just the chance, and a very very very very small chance, that knowing we will clear the rubbish up results in the harbour becoming a bit of a boat dump. We can be pretty sure that wouldn’t be one of our members but if you think someone has abandoned a boat, please let us know. Before the trail goes cold!
Last but by no means least – PC Pegden reports
“We have stopped and searched a good number of vehicles and persons on the quays and the general area late at night. “
“We have utilised our own ANPR cameras which are situated on all the major routes into Norfolk and this has flagged up suspicious vehicles travelling down to the Coast which we have intercepted before they have arrived here.”
“We have also deployed a good number of Police tracker systems to previous victims of crime on engines and boats in the Harbour which are being monitored by our control room 24/7 and if they are stolen we will deploy a Unit to deal with.”
“We are way down on crime looking at previous years. Our message remains the same as always, lock up your kit and make it as difficult as possible for criminals to steal anything and always call the Police with anything suspicious and in as much details as possible.”
Your newsletter writer is off on his hols now so there’s not quite the depth of reporting there might have been on last Friday nights summer meeting – have got to do my packing! Never fear there’s lots more information on what we are doing to come to you over the next months.
That’s all for now!