Last week observant members noticed a number of sandstone blocks being placed along the driveway to and across the launch area by Saratoga oval (first image).
Whilst this type of blockwork forms part of the overall proposal we have for new launch facilities it was slightly premature as it blocked access to the water for the boats. Our Commodore was quick to act and Council have moved the blocks to allow continued access (second image).
SSC and Deepwater Dragons met with Council last week at the club to discuss our proposal and short and long term options. We provided copies of our proposal and our license to use the oval, as well as other relevant documents.
Council provided us a copy of the original 2004 management plan, which is a fascinating read outlining the geology, plants and wildlife in the area, including the curlew (add type) which is a threatened species. The plan also mentions the use of the oval for setting up boats and the sandy area by the oval for launching.
Council’s Recreation Planning team, Waterways and Environmental Reporting sections are looking at a long term solution to access, which we will report on as soon as we know.
'The project supports a number of objectives of the Central Coast’s Community Strategic Plan through the provision of aquatic infrastructure to promote healthy living and increase ease of access to and enjoyment of natural waterways and foreshores.'
The letter outlines the next steps, which include:
developing detailed designs in consultation with Council
undertaking further inspections, investigations and consultation (including external parties and the wider community)
We have written a proposal document for the new launching facilities, which is available here (pdf), and includes some artist* impressions of what it could look like. If you have any comments, queries or concerns, please contact us to let us know.
* not actually drawn by an artist...
Its a desert out there
Why we are looking at new launching facilities
At high tide, the water at Saratoga Sailing Club comes past the mangroves and licks a small sandy bank at the edge of the land. However, at low tide, it can only be accessed by walking through mud, which increases in depth as you go further out.
'Sailors; and 'Paddlers' have to drag their boats out to open water then pull themselves aboard. This means that sailing is restricted to those with the physical strength and ability to do this.
At very low (spring) tides, which happen every month, it is not possible to reverse trailers onto the mud and boats are launched from the nearest slipway on Centennial Avenue, which is 1.5km away. This ramp is unable to be used at dead low tide and is in disrepair. The road is narrow and not really designed to allow sailing boats to rig and launch. Local residents near the slipway at Centennial Avenue are very accommodating in the busy summer boating season but we cannot send all of our boats down there as there is insufficient parking for all of our club boats and the public. It is too far to take dragon boats by road.
In an ideal world, we would be able to launch boats into deep water from the club grounds, secure them whilst trailers are returned to shore, and for sailors who are less able, to board the boats via a low jetty. This is just not possible with the low fall off and shallow nature of the area.
We have hosted a number of regattas over the years and it has proved problematic when we have very low tides.
The area immediately in front of the clubhouse. This would involve a short permanent boat ramp for the trailer sailors and, ideally, a jetty to enable boats to be tied up temporarily. This option least impacts the waterfront of the oval but requires a significantly longer jetty or ramp facility approximately 50 to 60 Metres.
The usual access point the club uses currently, off the oval foreshore. This would also allow the ramp/jetty facility to be used by other than sailing club members, and would allow a retaining area to stop erosion on Saratoga oval.
A new launching facility would:
enable easier access to the water at all states of tide for those who are less mobile, or just don't fancy wading through mud;
save the 1.5km round trip to the nearest slipway;
take pressure off the Centennial Avenue launching ramp which is in disrepair and unusable at less than half tide;
constrain launching to a narrow area of the shore and eliminate environmental impact from boats currently launching over a wide area of the mud and sand;
avoid damage to any seagrass;
provide facilities that can enhance use of the area and provide facilities for hosted regattas;
allow much wider use of the facility for larger Dragon Boats, Canoes and the general public; and
would allow remedial works to shore up the oval from further erosion
failure to deliver a proper facility would expose the oval to significant tidal erosion and close the facility for all sports;
construction access would need to be by way of the club grounds that could impact sailing activities during summer;
local noise and disturbance would need consideration;
support and approvals and support from Council, Waterways, RTA, Lands Department and Fisheries; and
funding constraints and the ability of the club to fund some of the work supported by State and Federal Government grants.
A preliminary 'Aquatic Assesment' has been paid for by the club. This was completed by a specialist consultant and subject to initial Council support a full Hydrographic survey and report of the seabed will be commissioned.
The club will then seek approvals and enter a consultation phase with all relevant agencies. This is an extensive and time consuming process that will take some years. A maritime project management and engineering firm will develop detailed plans for the new launching facilities and assist in submission to the Council for a DA approval. At all stages, we will consult further with the Saratoga Community and the many local body agencies that require input. We will publish design options here when available.