Cruisers, get out of the way!
The crew was far from wifi or cell coverage recently when into my hands fell a reasonably fresh newspaper reporting a war between yachties and dragon boaters in Vancouver’s False Creek.
War might be too strong a word, but organizers of the Canadian International Dragon Boat Festival had launched a petition calling for boats to be barred from anchoring in an eastern area of False Creek.
Seems that anchored boats were blocking dragon boaters from practising for their festival races. The racers went from boat to boat to ask crews to up anchor and move. One or two boats obliged, one or two owners could not be contacted and one or two refused to move.
This set off a row. The festival petition demands a portion of the creek, including the waters east of the Cambie Street Bridge, be declared a “moorage-free zone” so they can conduct races without encountering obstacles.
Boats must have a permit, available free online, to anchor in False Creek for more than eight hours between 9am and 11pm or anytime between 11pm and 9am. Boats are supposed to anchor outside a central channel, but east of the Cambie Bridge where traffic is less busy such a restriction does not appear to apply.
We love anchoring in False Creek when visiting Vancouver. A “moorage-free zone” would not directly affect us in a sailboat, since the vertical clearance of Cambie Bridge bars most cruising sailboats from visiting the quiet, settled waters to the east. But of course it would mean the waters west of the bridge would become much more congested.
I thought when we returned to civilization I might blog here about the clash, but by the time we did it seemed like old news.
Then all hell broke loose.
On the dragon boaters’ big race day, a charter vessel with customers aboard stumbled onto the course, blocking boats and causing a race to be disrupted.
The spat devolved into arguments about rules of the road, right of way and who has jurisdiction over the mess. (Transport Canada oversees both racing and anchoring in False Creek, though the City of Vancouver administers the anchoring permit program).
False Creek is a great anchorage, if a bit helter-skelter, as well as a super venue for dragon boat activities. They can exist together.
The anchorage could be far more efficient and accommodate many more vessels, at the same time leaving open a wide, unobstructed central channel down the western half of the waterway and an open area at the east end suitable for dragon boat races and other activities.
It could be done with the use of mooring buoys, either doubled for securing fore and aft or with stern lines to moorage rings ashore. There are long stretches of park and public shoreline where mooring rings would be possible.
In places, depth is an issue, though moorage in water that is a bit deeper would still not interfere with other uses. As well, there could be a long-term project to dredge some areas.
The mooring buoys and rings could be installed first in the east end to benefit organizations like the dragon boaters as well as boats able to fit under the Cambie Bridge.
It can be done in easy steps, hopefully at a cost that would allow moorage to remain free. This would bring more boaters to the city to benefit retailers and such.
And surely the dragon boat festival and charter vessels can amicably work out courses and schedules allowing them both to operate without interference.
<em>(False Creek is covered in <a href=”http://salishseapilot.com/cruising-guides/”>Salish Sea Pilot’s Cruising Guide to the Sunshine Coast</a>.)</em>