Summer Newsletter

Thanks to you 80 or so members who came to the AGM.

We had a bit of a different format this year. Our activities have been split down into six working groups and each of the chairs of those groups had prepared a written report that was circulated to all members in advance, along with the AGM agenda and Report and Accounts. Our first as a charity. And after the meeting, which lasted about an hour, a lot of people stayed on – a useful chance to chinwag – the last wobbling out of the Harbour Room at about 9.30!

The key points of the meeting were that we are solvent with £40k in the bank at the end of December (our year end) and hope to make that £50k this year (so keeping our emergency and fighting funds in place). It’s a real achievement to keep expenses down to around the £30k mark – if we added in people’s time it would be over £200k at a guess.

If you had attended the AGM you would have heard the Chairman report that BHA has been contacted by the Crown Estate. The Crown own a large part (but not all) of the bed of the Harbour between the mean high water and low water marks and the sea bed out to 12 miles. The National Trust own most of the land above the MHWM and some of the Harbour bed too.

The only time there is any record of a discussion with the Crown Estate goes back 50 years or so! In the meantime we have just got on with all the things in this newsletter with no interference from the landowner. Anyway 50 years on and with rather more attention paid to ‘procedure’ these days – health & safety, insurance and best practice – the Crown Estate’s agent came up to Norfolk and we brought him up to date with our work, which he was very happy with.

But perhaps, unsurprisingly, he felt it was time to formalise what we do on their land in writing. And that seemed sensible for both of us. They will write with some suggested wording.

The second question that he asked was “how Blakeney got it’s Free Harbour status?” Well there are facts and there is speculation. But the one indisputable fact, as the Chairman made clear to both the Crown Agent and at the AGM – no one pays! Again the Trustees feel it is sensible to put a brief together – who knows what – which is what we are doing. The Chairman asked the meeting to bring forward any information that any member might have that throws light on our Free Harbour history. And people have responded very enthusiastically resulting in  a small mountain of old documents. More information at the summer meeting or before.

Two more Trustees have been appointed. Jason Bean and James Cowan – YOUNG people with a real stake in the Harbour and whose enthusiasm and energy puts BHA in safe hands for the future. Take Neil Thompson out of the present Trustee Board and the average age is getting scarily close to 70!! (take the secretary out and it comes crashing down again).

Jason Bean

James Cowan

The AGM approved a number of changes to your Association’s constitution. Some were just tidying up the documents now it’s been operating for a couple of years, but importantly we’ve increased the number of Trustees from 5 to 8 (and we have appointed  seven). At least five have to be ‘professional’ Trustees. That means that they earn all or some of their living from the Harbour. One or two people asked why there was not a minimum number of non-professional Trustees. That’s a very fair question. It’s not quite as simple as it sounds because you wouldn’t want to have two categories of trustee if that meant someone had to resign if the numbers didn’t balance. But the Trustees will definitely have a look at it and report back.

The other noteworthy change is that a member who joins aged 17 or under as part of a family membership package won’t get a vote. They will have a vote at any age if they joined as an individual member.

Neil Thompson is close to finding a way to get rid of old flares.

He has found a company that will set up shop over a weekend and collect all your old flares for around £1,000 – which sounds a lot until you remember that out of date flares constitute unstable munitions! So we thought that if we advertise from say Lowestoft to King’s Lynn and we get a hundred people who want to get rid of flares at say £10 a head then we’ve done it.
If you’re interested, please email and we’ll start to keep a list.

Here’s a benefit of being a member – two boats that went missing in the Spring have been reunited with their owners. A simple task for us if the boat owner is a member!

Can we have some help with this one? She’s half way up the new cut and, without wanting to offend, you might be mistaken for thinking she’s abandoned?! So if anyone knows who she might belong to, either contact or get in touch with Neil.

The Harbour warden volunteer group has had their pre-season get together. They have now all got each others contact details and so can easily swap info on repeat offenders out in the Harbour. If that all sounds a bit “ heavy “ it really is only to avoid the very small minority of thoughtless speeders and the like from creating a bad accident. So please respect the Wardens if they do have cause to “ have a word “ – no one enjoys that and it spoils a nice day!!

And water skiers – it is essential to have a helmsman AND an observer- please.

Don’t forget that you really need a minimum of public liability insurance when you’re out on the water

And while we’re on the subject of safety and insurance, BHA’s insurance has just been renewed (boring you think) but what you don’t know is that yet another anonymous member both organised and paid for (!) the cover. Stating the obvious that saves you – our 500 or so members – money.

Which neatly takes us to members, Chair of the Membership and Fundraising Committee – Joanie McKee reports that we are now through the 500 member barrier. Woow.  That may not be quite as good as it sounds as there are a few non payers and as it’s not compulsory to pay some of the non payers may have wanted to retire? If you get this newsletter and don’t want to be  a member any more can you let us know- same email as above. Thanks

There’s lots going on. Volunteers Joanie McKee, Gill Kay, Tom Harrison, Juliet Thompson, and Heather Harrison – with Elsie Temple and Phil Harrison coming to the rescue too- have just raised an estimated £8,500  ( and still counting ) at the Harbour Houlie bash last week. A capacity crowd of well over a hundred people sat down at the Harbour Rooms  for a great buffet supper, auction of promises,  5 star raffle and brilliant band that kept the place going strong up to midnight.

This Newsletter is starting to go on a bit (and my fat fingers are getting sore); maybe we should do a separate account of that night with all the acknowledgements we must make to all our very generous supporters. So when the final tally is known we will send out the full details . But in the meantime – well, just brilliant – everyone.

Before the dancing…

Dates for your diary:

15th July fundraising concert on the quay at Blakeney in the afternoon for BHA, The Housing Society and Glaven Caring.

A summer barbecue at Morston on the 13th August

And if that wasn’t enough then the Cley Restoration Project is having a shindig on 20th August

BHA hoodies and polo shirts are selling well, with all profits to BHA. Email us at to place your order

Just a word about security. We had a pretty good year last year when it came to thefts of engines, bits and pieces and thank goodness, no boats at all. So please do do do email us with anything you’ve lost or any suspicious behaviour you think is going on and we will get that out via Twitter, Facebook and our mailing list pronto. We were really impressed with police response last year and we know that they were very appreciative of feeding information to them. Resulting in some collars!

Please do keep an eye on the website latest news, useful information and the like. Sorry that you sometimes seem bombarded with Navigation Warnings and Notices to Mariners. Blame the shifting sands! Just as soon as all of the new buoyage is in place we will update the website, and chart and pilot book publishers. Both Trinity house and the UK Hydrography Office are continually updated.

Have a brilliant summer!