Winter has arrived in Knysna, bringing cooler weather and many misty mornings! Many of us complain about the cold and damp conditions, especially on Leisure Isle, but this is also a time of the year when we experience glorious sunny weather and calm days. And with that comes some spectacularly beautiful sunrises and sunsets as were recently captured at LIBC on camera by Margie Johnson!
The security problems with regular break-ins through the perimeter fence seem to be behind us for now, and hopefully we will be able to postpone the implementation of the electric fence indefinitely.
Unfortunately the last week of the winter school holidays saw two boats disappear from their moorings in the harbour. One was a small rubber duck and engine, while the other one was a handbuilt wooden clinker dinghy, also with a small outboard. It is suspected that both boats were removed at the same time. This is a new and alarming phenomenon and we will be closely monitoring the situation. We ask all members to cooperate with the guard on night duty and to report any signs of suspicious activity.
There was also an incident where and intruder climbed over the perimeter fence and stole a battery from a boat but this hopefully appears to have been an isolated case.
The committee had already decided to proceed with construction of the elevated guard hut next to the canoe rack and this project will proceed forthwith because we believe it will facilitate control of movement of people and boats in the harbour as well as the trailer park.
Our security situation at LIBC must be viewed against a scenario of increasing reports of theft and other crime elsewhere in Knysna, and Leisure Isle is truly fortunate that we seem to be escaping the worst of the criminals’ attentions, something for which we must be grateful for the efforts of LIRA and our contracted security company, Allsound.
Two or three Members reported that they had found items missing from their boats in the parking bays around Easter time. In all cases, however, the owners sheepishly informed us that they had not visited their boats for several months and it seems that these incidents all relate back to the problems we experienced in 2015. All members are again reminded that it is your responsibility to take care of your boats and equipment and any movable items of value should be removed. Also, we urge you to report any suspected thefts to the Harbour Management to make sure we are informed and can take appropriate action.
Please note that we have once again reached our limit of 400 members of LIBC. As new applications are received, they are placed on a waiting list. However, there is no need for alarm, as once you have paid your Entrance Fee and your name is on the waiting list, you may use the club facilities in much the same manner as applicable to Temporary Members.
Similarly after several years of there being a number of berths for sale, there are currently none available. Clearly Knysna, and, in particular, LIBC, has regained its status as a No 1 sought after destination!
Clive and Margie have been hard at work with their little team maintaining the harbour facilities and upgrading the gardens and the whole place is really looking spick and span at present. Well done, guys!
Harbour maintenance is ongoing and a number of minor repairs have been undertaken.
The public toilets near the boom were given a minor upgrade and were cleaned and painted. They are cleaned by LIBC staff on a daily basis and are in a fit state to be used by Members when the clubhouse is closed, or at any other time. Should you find the toilets in a dirty condition, please immediately report this to the Harbour Manager, bearing in mind that LIBC gave an undertaking to the Knysna Municipality that the toilet block would be built by LIBC and made available for use by the general public. We try to control access to the building by keeping it locked out of normal hours, so, if necessary, you should be able to collect the keys from the Clubhouse, or the Guard Hut at the boom.
The jetties and mooring facilities are undoubtedly the most valuable and maintenance intensive assets at LIBC, and the Committee and Harbour Management have invested a lot of effort into ensuring that the jetty maintenance is properly managed in a cost effective manner. Several months ago a mooring pole had to be replaced and we found signs of serious attack by marine borers (known as “gribble”) to the section of timber permanently underwater. A lot research has gone into determining the best method of overcoming this problem and we have discussed the matter with various people including Thesens Islands who informed us that they have similar problems. We are still considering various alternatives to timber poles as well as the best method to protect the poles. In the meantime, a professional survey of the existing poles was commissioned to properly evaluate the extent of the problem. A report has been submitted to LIBC and initial indications are that, while there is certainly significant damage to the poles, it is not as bad as we had initially thought and there is no need to rush off and start replacing poles unnecessarily (As a matter of interest, there are over 200 poles in the harbour, and the estimated replacement cost is about R3 000.00 to R3 500.00 per pole, so it is essential to ensure that the work is undertaken in the most cost effective manner possible). At this stage we are hopeful that it will be possible to delay the start of any work until next year and then to carry out the work in a programmed and phased manner over a number of years.
Apart from the poles, we have also come up with a method to prolong the life of the jetty structures without replacing all the timber. As soon as it becomes necessary we will tackle one section of a jetty to test the proposed method of repair.
Some of you may have noticed or heard about the extraordinarily low tides which occurred during April. Apparently the barometric pressure rose above 1030hPa and this, coincidental with a low spring tide shortly after equinox, resulted in the lagoon water level dropping by close to 300mm below normal spring low level. Old Knysna residents like Lin Hall and others were adamant that they had never seen the water level so low. Several of the jetties and most boats in the harbour were sitting hard on the mud and there were many previously unseen exposed sandbanks all over the lagoon. The same situation prevailed in the Thesens Islands canals. Joseph was hard at work rescuing stranded seahorses in the harbour and one fears that many more must have perished. It was a remarkable sight!
The staff are fighting a losing battle trying to keep the ingress of sea lettuce in the harbour under control. See also the article by Arland Read below.
Margie Johnson has slotted into her role at LIBC and she is already part of the furniture. Margie is a truly hands-on person and she seems to spend most of her time either on her hands and knees in the garden, or cleaning the jetties, or supervising the staff. As a result, Clive has had more time to focus on maintenance and other issues, and the results are there for all to see. The Club facilities are really in a superb condition!
It was therefore an easy decision for the Committee to offer Margie a permanent position as the Assistant Harbour Manager when her three month temporary contract came to an end in April, and we were mightily relieved when she accepted!
As you know, Michael went on leave in February and this has turned out to be rather extended, for various reasons. However, Michael has now returned and is back working at the Club. While Michael was away, his brother Joseph proved to be a very capable stand-in and has been of great assistance. Joseph has had some personal problems which we hope will soon become something of the past.
MANAGEMENT OF BOATS & TRAILERS
This is a serious appeal to all Members to cooperate and assist Harbour Management in a number of ways. Remember, while we do our best to ensure the safety of your boats, trailers, and equipment, we can only do so with your help.
- All trailers in the trailer park MUST be marked, and to this end stickers are supplied free of charge by Harbour Management. Unmarked trailers will have stickers fitted by Harbour Management who will accept no responsibility for any resulting errors. It is the Members’ responsibility to ensure that boats and trailers are placed in the correct mooring/parking bay. Boats and trailers which are found to be in the wrong place may be removed by Harbour Management who will accept no responsibility for any resulting inconvenience or costs.
- The canoe rack has finally been sorted out and every canoe is marked with a sticker and placed in its allocated place. Please make sure you replace your canoe in the correct place and please be aware that any unmarked canoes will be removed!
- Despite numerous notices, there are still a number of unmarked and unclaimed canoes which have been temporarily stored behind the Clubhouse. These must be identified and/or removed forthwith, otherwise they will either be sold or given to charity at the end of July.
BOATING INCIDENT IN THE HEADS
A few weeks ago a tragedy was narrowly averted when three crew members were rescued from a boat which had capsized in the Knysna heads. The incident occurred on a Saturday afternoon when a boat, which was attempting to navigate through the Heads, was caught by heavy seas and overturned. The dramatic sequence of photos on the following page, shows the boat striking the wave, and flying through the air before landing upside down in the water. The crew can be seen as dots in the wild water near to the boat. Luckily the event was witnessed by a number of spectators and the NSRI was promptly alerted to the situation, they responded and managed to pluck all three men from the water and return them to the NSRI Base from where they were transferred by ambulance to hospital. We understand that all three men made a full recovery.
Those of you who have traversed the Heads will appreciate the extreme danger these people were in and how fortunate it was that a number of factors combined favourably to ensure their eventual safety. One can only imagine the terror of finding oneself in those wild waters and completely at the mercy of the elements. The only advice we can give is to always respect the Knysna Heads and never attempt to go through except under the most favourable circumstances and with a very experienced skipper in charge.
We must also recognise that these three men were saved from certain drowning by the prompt and professional response by the NSRI and that is why LIBC should always continue to give them whatever support we can.
The following articles were kindly supplied to us by Arland Read (other members are urged to follow suit):
Not a good year so far. All are reporting reduced catches and size. Firstly, the Red Tide which really filled our bay for about a month all the way up to the road bridge, shortly followed by a massive resurgence of the Green Gunge, and unusually common temperature swings, bringing in cold water (10 to 15 degrees C) regularly. This of course also brought us our coldest and earliest winter that many can remember. Garrick(Leervis) were relatively scarce and mostly really small at about 60cm instead of the regulatory 75cm. Night fishing up river produced what can only be described as a “harassment” of Raggies .
These non-aggressive sharks up to 2m in length are poor fighters, but they really eat away at hard won live bait and expensive tackle. Choca were also very numerous both day and night. On the other hand the scarce mullet were all about 25cm plus. The nice sized ones of about 20cm had all gone to night school and stayed away from cast netting distance. By the way, cast net sizes are limited to 2m in radius or length.
Probably more serious than spoken about. At its peak it was washing around the end of Leisure Isle in a 15m wide x 1m deep swathe. It now covers our harbour floor in places up to 20cm deep. As it rots, it gives off an atrocious smell, which we presume is H2S (Hydrogen Sulphide). You can see thousands of bubbles coming up from the bottom, when the surface is calm, especially in that channel as you leave our harbour. If raked away, one witnesses a desert underneath as the gunge has effectively blocked off oxygen and food from prawns, worms, etc.
Its pretty widespread as fishermen are complaining it collects on their lines throughout our lagoon. (The only survivor in all of this are those gross sea slugs or purple nudibranchs. They seem to thrive in poor conditions and have no known predators. It is told that ancient Egyptians used the purple ink they are filled with to dye clothes for Royalty.) Hope Knysna does not get known for this type of pollution one day. On the subject of pollution, the Knysna Basin team have started a project on pollution. All of us have seen an increase in plastic waste throughout the lagoon.