STORM BREWING-CANAL ROCKS BOATRAMP
I do not like to get too political with this weekly column, but when I was phoned a week ago with the news that the Canal Rocks boat ramp was at risk of being closed down, I knew the issue was red hot and needed addressing immediately. The ramifications of such a decision would be catastrophic for all boaties in the Capes region, not only for those who use this ramp regularly, but for those of us who are already struggling with the rising number of vessels using Gnarabup, Gracetown and Hamelin Bay boat ramps.
Firstly, to be fair, the Augusta/Margaret River Shire, responsible for Gnarabup and Gracetown boat ramps, have worked very well with local boaties and marine rescue groups to provide reasonable launching facilities in difficult locations. Also, the Department of Transport, in partnership with the shire, have constructed an outstanding facility at Augusta Boat Harbour. Sure, there have been complaints about inadequate parking at Gracetown, but with the surrounding land being National Park, this is out of the shire’s jurisdiction. Gnarabup ramp can also be tricky during peak season, due to the interaction or swimmers, café users, etc, but as far as I am aware there have been no major incidents involving vessels and other ocean users, so the system is working as well as possible.
Back to Canal Rocks boat ramp which, along with Hamelin Bay boat ramp, is managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife. I will not reveal my sources, but at a recent meeting a marine rescue group were asked to support a partial and/or full closure of this ramp, which they refused to do. The issue it seems is a study that highlighted the risks associated with this ramp, which does not meet the current Australian Standards for wave action over defined periods of time. You did not need a study to find this out, as none of the Capes boat ramps meet this standard, which incidentally was published well before they were built. Is the implication that in our new crazy world of litigation, someone could be sued for damage caused to them and/or their vessel, while using this ramp? Yes, Canal Rocks boat ramp can be a difficult during moderate to heavy wave action, but so can Abbey Beach boat ramp in Geographe Bay on a strong northwester, or Gnarabup boat ramp in swells over three metres or any boat ramp in the world for that matter, if the conditions are poor. So whatever happened to taking responsibility for your own actions? Surely signage warning potential users that it is not recommended to use the facility in adverse conditions should be sufficient. Or maybe someone is just looking for a way out of paying for regular maintenance and upkeep for a much needed community facility? Whatever the reasons, it does not make sense to close this ramp when the number of boaties living and visiting this area is constantly on the rise. And I thought WA was looking to increase the tourist potential for this area, especially right in the heart of the Gnari Capes Marine Park. If Canal Rocks gets the chop, then Hamelin Bay may well be next and for all boaties in the Margaret River and Gracetown region, be prepared for what this will mean at your local ramp-CHAOS! If you feel strongly about this issue and want to help save Canal Rocks boat ramp, then get along to the Show of Strength to be held at 11am at the ramp, Sunday October 29. There is sure to be more in the media, so stay tuned and don’t be complacent.
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