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Coronavirus and Covid 19 FAQs Last Updated 19th May 2020

Dart Harbour Coronavirus FAQS

17 Apr 20

In these uncertain times when the impact of the Coronavirus is affecting every aspect of life, we know that it is important to keep our customers informed so that they know how we are handling the current challenges.

Firstly, we want to let you know that we are taking every opportunity to ensure that our staff, customers, suppliers and all those who use and enjoy the river are staying safe.

At the moment, no one knows how long the Government restrictions and precautions will be in place. There may well be more changes as the situation develops and we are continuously monitoring announcements from the government to make sure we are both complying with, and supporting, the spirit of the requirements.

We are regularly in touch with the Resilience Forum in Exeter which liaises with COBRA, other ports and the British Ports Authority. This means we can make sure that we are following best practice and continue to receive useful advice.

The way we operate has had to alter in various ways to meet the requirements of the Government and minimise risk. The steps taken include a new shift pattern, which ensures the continued ability to raise matters with staff and carry out our safety related duties.

Be assured, we will only introduce changes which we believe are necessary and really hope that the restrictions can be relaxed sooner rather than later.

You will see below a series of Frequently Asked Questions with answers covering the points which have been raised with us so far. We hope you find these useful. We will be keeping them updated so please keep an eye out for our newsletter and on our website.

If there are questions not covered here or you would like to seek further clarification or information do get in touch. In order to help protect staff we have restricted entry to our premises so we would ask you to use the telephone or email us at [email protected]

Meanwhile we hope you and your families are keeping safe.

Frequently asked Questions

07 May 20
Why should I pay Dart Harbour for my mooring, if I can’t use my boat or put my boat on the mooring?

Dart Harbour is a Trust Port that also lets moorings in competition with other mooring businesses around the river. Residential moorings are inspected and maintained annually and are charged at a rate that reflects our no profit status. Our policy outlines the principles that we look to optimise access to the water for river users and therefore are keen to try to ensure that our moorings are used and fully occupied by our customers. Dart Harbour is unusual in that we offer customers a boat holiday that allows a mooring to be offered back to the customer after a 12 month absence from the mooring. We are dealing with a number of customers who have been forced to either take a boat holiday or give up moorings as they are unable to pay owing to financial difficulties caused by the Covid situation. We would therefore encourage those who wish to keep their mooring to either pay for continued use in 2020/21 or to take a boat holiday (50% discount on the mooring based on length of mooring). The other alternative is to give up the mooring. The Authority has long waiting lists with some customers waiting for periods in excess of 10 years for an allocation.

The Authority will be able to decide how many moorings to maintain ahead of 2021 allocations based on the number of give ups and take up from the waiting list. Income from 2020 should allow us to continue to employ our staff who are required for mooring maintenance ahead of the 2021 season. These principles and the potential discount for those who pay for a mooring and are paying additional fees for having a boat ashore should help to provide equity for our customers.

What level of service is Dart Harbour able to provide?
17 Apr 20

We are operating a system which ensures that you can always reach us so that we can continue to provide help and maintain the safety of river users. The system we are using is designed to protect our staff by minimising unnecessary social contact. The staff have been divided into small teams, so that we can cover the need for anyone to self-isolate if required. It would be very helpful if you can use the telephone or email for non-urgent matters.

As a Trust Port, Dart Harbour is governed by statutory provisions with particular emphasis on Port Safety and Management. The arrangements in place make sure we can fulfill these duties.

Can I use my boat while restrictions are in place?
19 May 20

DEFRA issued advice that

All forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority) are allowed. You can continue to use towpaths for walking, running and cycling, being mindful of other users and people living in boats along the water.

There are no restrictions on how far you can travel to get to the countryside. However, you cannot visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home.
We do not anticipate visiting vessels from sea or people staying on their vessels overnight as government guidance excludes overnight stays away from home.
LNTM 09/20 gives more detail.

Along with other ports, Dart Harbour has decided that the only vessels which are able to operate during the present situation are those associated with permitted activities, e.g. licensed fishing vessels and those vessels involved in other commercial activity including construction activity, supply chains, transport links and keeping the port open and safe.

Anything which is not a permitted activity, and which involves non-essential travel, runs counter to the objective of the lockdown restrictions. Dart Harbour is therefore advising against non-essential travel.

The use of recreational craft is not considered a permitted activity enjoying exemption from Government restrictions. However, for those who live close to the river, paddling and rowing may fall within the Government guidelines as they are recognised forms of exercise. Sitting on board a vessel would certainly not constitute exercise.  It should be noted that the RNLI are advising against water based activity on or in the sea in order to reduce the risk to their personnel.

Safety considerations
13 May 20

Owing to some of the Covid 19 restrictions that remain in place, and reduced commercial activity, there is expected to be a far lower level of traffic density making reporting and response to any incident potentially far slower. Many vessels on the river will not have been used for a considerable time. In order to minimise the need for our emergency services to be mobilised, potentially placing them and you at risk, the following conditions should apply:

  • The latest weather forecast should be obtained and vessels are to be checked and inspected thoroughly before leaving the berth. This should include ensuring that all boat systems and engines are operating correctly and all equipment is in date and operating as it should.
  • Lifejackets or buoyancy aids should be worn by all onboard for your own safety.
  • Boat skippers are urged to exercise good seamanship, courtesy, patience and common sense as they begin to move around the river.
  • The skipper and crew of all vessels are required to follow government guidance in relation to COVID-19 to protect themselves and others they may come into contact with.
Can I use Dart Harbour visitor Facilities?
19 May 20

Dart Harbour visitor facilities should not be used ( Including visitor buoys).  This is to prevent increased footfall and potential transmission of the virus.  People using their vessel for exercise and leisure purposes should depart and return to the same berth unless they are relocating to a pre-arranged mooring.  Use of our facilities increase the risk of transmission as does trying to get ashore during the day to use shops that you normally do not use.

Can I anchor in the River?
19 May 20

Local boats may anchor in the river and return to their normal berths a the end of the day.  The Master and crew are to remain onboard whilst at anchor.

Who is allowed onboard my vessel?
19 May 20

Only embers of the same household or isolated group should be on the same boat. If the boat is large enough to allow social distancing, only one other person from another household may be on board.

Will Dart Harbour make any adjustments because people cannot launch or move vessels while restrictions apply?
17 Apr 20

This is under continuing review but at present the following arrangements are in place:

  1. If you are paying to keep your boat elsewhere and are unable to move to the annual Dart Harbour mooring you have already paid for, we will credit you with a discount based on the cost of your Dart Harbour mooring on a pro rata basis. This will be calculated for the period where you have paid for additional storage/berthing in the period between 31 March and the date that restrictions are lifted. You will need to demonstrate that you have paid for keeping your boat somewhere else during this period to get a credit. The credit will be up to a maximum of 50% of the pro rata Dart Harbour mooring payment.
  2. If you are a visitor who cannot leave until restrictions are lifted, you can stay and pay a monthly portion of an annual mooring fee for a boat of your size until restrictions are lifted. After that you will need to pay the normal daily visitor rate if you want to stay in Dartmouth.
  3. If your boat is on a mooring just for the Winter, because you had to move from the one you usually occupy for the rest of the year, you can stay on the Winter mooring until restrictions are lifted and return to the usual mooring provided the mooring fees have been paid.
  4. If you have a boat on a mooring and asked to take a boat holiday before 31 March, but could not take your boat out before the 31 March, you will still enjoy the 50% Boat Holiday rate as long as you move the boat as soon as restrictions are lifted.
What if I am worried about the safety of my boat?
17 Apr 20

Checks on mooring lines and on other safety critical equipment and systems should, where possible, be carried out by your agent and should in any event be kept to a minimum.

Dart Harbour is continuing river patrols and as usual will report any problems it identifies associated with individual boats.

If other safety related issues are identified you may need to make use of the nominated agent whose name has been provided to Dart Harbour. This would be appropriate if such risks as sinking, pollution or coming adrift are identified.

If your agent is operating commercially, s/he can contact Dart Harbour to discuss access. If this is not possible please contact Dart Harbour direct and we will do what we can to help.

Can I bring a boat into Dart Harbour?
19 May 20

Maters of recreational vessels should not plan to visit Dartmouth unless it is their home port or they have a pre-arranged lift out in one of the yards on the river.  arriving into Dartmouth out of necessity should make contact with their intended berth provider and Dart Harbour prior to entry into the harbour. This will include the need to establish that a berth will be available and the terms on which the berth can be accessed and occupied. Vessels arriving from outside Devon may require the need to submit health declarations, self-isolate on the vessel and comply with necessary social distancing measures after arrival.  Commercial vessels registered and operating between UK ports are able to visit but are requested to inform Dart Harbour in advance of their movements .

Can I launch a leisure vessel on the Dart?
19 May 20

Leisure vessels can be launched and are subject to all visitor restrictions.  Masters and crew should stay on board and not use any facilities. Staying overnight on vessels is also forbidden by government rules. The vessels should be removed from the river at the end of the day.

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