If the predictions of Gippsland Ports CEO Nick Murray come to fruition, over the coming Easter break the Gippsland Lakes could well see the most intense boating activity in years.
For 2011, the Easter weekend is extended by an extra day as the Anzac Day public holiday brings the holiday ‘weekend’ to five days.
'With the extra day available to boaters, we are expecting boating on the Lakes to be quite intensive,' Nick Murray said.
In anticipation of good weather and high boating activity, Gippsland Ports staff have been out inspecting public facilities at all the popular boating destinations. Essential maintenance work has been undertaken to ensure the boating facilities are ready for an influx of boaters.
'Everyone is entitled to equally enjoy the boating facilities on the Gippsland Lakes,' Nick Murray said.
'Both local boating families who know the waterways well, and visitors, some of whom may be boating on the Gippsland Lakes for the first time, are all entitled to share and enjoy the publicly funded infrastructure.'
Locations such as Ocean Grange, the Barrier, Metung and Paynesville jetties, for instance, are exceptionally popular. In order that everyone can enjoy their time at these popular destinations and gain access to the jetties and wharves, Gippsland Ports has a system of time limitations applying to these facilities.
To assist boaters, berthing zones are designated by a colour coding system with the edge capping of the jetty painted to indicate the purpose of the relevant section of the jetty.
A jetty with either a white strip, or no colour at all, is a designated temporary berthing zone where boats can be berthed for up to 48 hours. Yellow is a loading zone for the pick up or drop off of passengers and cargo, vessels must be manned at all times in this zone. A blue strip on the jetty is a short term zone. Various time limits apply with the allowed time limits sign-posted at each jetty. And a red strip indicates that berthing is only permitted with a permit.
By setting these limits, albeit generous, at select locations, boaters are able to arrive and depart so as to ensure the facilities are not monopolized by just a handful of boaters.
'We have some of the very best boating destinations in Australia and we want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy their time at Easter. Selfish boaters who want to take over a public facility as their own for an extensive period will be moved along by Gippsland Ports officers.'
With the waterways expected to be so popular over Easter, Gippsland Ports is also encouraging boaters to be aware of their responsibilities on the water.
There are many restricted speed zones in the Lakes system. These are to protect other waterway users, such as swimmers, in strategically located areas of shallow water, tight navigation or a busy/narrow waterway. In these zones boaters need to keep their wash to a minimum while also keeping clear of moored and berthed boats.
'While the Lakes are expansive, there are some areas which will experience some congestion over Easter,' Nick Murray said.
'When boaters observe the navigation marks, speed restricted zones and the handful of no boating areas, we can all look forward to an enjoyable and safe Easter holiday on the water.'
'With the extra time at hand this Easter, it is a good time to exercise extra patience and perhaps take the time to have a friendly chat with your fellow boaters. After all we are all here to enjoy the same wonderful waterway,' Nick Murray concluded.