Blue Green Algae Update

Like all members I am really disappointed that it has been necessary for Bristol Water to suspend all lake activity due to the Blue Green Algae bloom, which currently exceeds the 100 000 cells/ml threshold at which all on the water activity is suspended. I have everything crossed that the algae levels reduce and we can return to normal very soon, but the truth is that presently the path ahead is uncertain.

For those of you wanting to understand the position in more depth I copy below some additional information from Bristol Water in response to questions I have asked:

As part of our routine monitoring of the Mendip Lakes we collect weekly samples. We monitor the water quality to ensure we understand the challenges for our treatment works and to verify our risk assessments for each source. The samples for Chew Valley Lake are normally collected on a Monday, from the draw-off tower. The actual sample point is in Chew Stoke Pumping Station. Using this sample point ensures we are collecting a representative sample of the water leaving the lake.

When we see an increase in numbers of blue-green algae we start we initiate the following actions:

  • Twice weekly sampling at the draw-off, normally on Monday and Thursday
  • Samples are analysed for addition parameters, including geosmin, 2-methylisoborneol and microcystin.
  • Collecting from the bank at other points around the lake
  • If feasible complete a boat survey across the lake (this is hopefully happening on Wednesday/Thursday) this week.

Although we routinely see counts of blue-green algae above 20,000 cells per ml on all the Mendip Lakes, except for Cheddar, it is unusual to see counts above 100,000 cells per ml. In the last 25 years I believe this is only the third occasion where counts have been consistently above 100,000 cells/ml on one of the lakes. The last time this happened was in 2022 and related to Barrow Tank 3. It is also unusual to see increased counts of blue-green algae so early in the summer. Usually blue-green algae tend to bloom later in the summer. However, we have experienced blooms on both Blagdon and Chew Valley Lake this year. I am not sure if this is related to the very wet autumn/winter/spring period which has increase the nutrient loading in the lakes or linked to the longer term risk of climate change.

Our current internal guideline values are based on guidance from the world health organisation. [shown in the table below]. We have adopted the precautionary approach to restrict recreational activities that would result in contact with water when counts exceed 100,000 cells/ml in our sample results. The reason for this is that there is a high likelihood of localised scums on parts of the lake where counts will be significantly higher.

What this means for CVLSC:

  • All on the water activity remains suspended until further notice. There is no sailing this Wednesday (but see further below for Wednesday social update!) nor any other day until we communicate that the suspension has been lifted.
  • I will communicate any change as soon as possible if something changes – keep an eye on the club facebook page as that is quick and easy for me to post an update to, and I am not always able to draft and send a news to everyone immediately. Please help cascade any message through your fleet networks, friends etc.
  • Duty teams should keep rostered dates in their diaries. As soon as we are given the all clear we will return to the water and rostered duty teams should work on the assumption that they will be needed as planned, potentially at very short notice
  • Catering – Ben and Antonia plan to provide a catering service as normal, starting this Wednesday when we will also be running a Beetle Run social activity from 6.30pm with a meal being served from around 7.30. Everyone present will get a free drink from our bar so lets turn up in numbers, have some fun and and support Ben and Antonia
  • We have similar fun events planned for subsequent Wednesday evenings (although probably not a free drink!) so keep Weds eve in your diaries and come for a social even if we can’t sail
  • For those booked on RYA youth training courses or Chew Crew, the youth team will be in touch with you via the course WhatsApp groups ASAP to let you know plans. People booked on any other training courses should liaise with the course contact to understand if the course can continue. Please do remember that everyone running and administering the courses are volunteers and having to make plans at very short notice.
  • As soon as we are given the all clear we will return to the water and planned activity will continue as normal

Sadly, the activity below is all dependant on being able to return to the water. It is however being communicated as normal to ensure dates go into diaries and help us hit the ground running as soon as we return.

Volunteers needed – Weds 26-Jun-24 and Sat 29-Jun-24

The Police Group are duty on Wednesday 26-Jun-24 and it is also the annual nettle bashing trip to Denny to prepare it for the family regatta on Saturday 29th June, if you haven’t yet volunteered to join us please do so, meet at the flagpole at 10am on the 26th armed with whatever tools you have, boots and long trousers are recommended, Hugh our fearless leader will be there.

On the Saturday 29-Jun-24 we could do with some help with Denny Ferry, Dave Hales will helm it but he is in need of an assistant, to go over to the island in the morning to make sure we can get the committee boat into the harbour and for the treasure hunt to ferry pirates and parents to the island and assisting in them getting on and off the ferry, also an extra powerboat helm would be very useful, if you can help please contact Jeff.

Family Regatta – Sat 29-Jun-24

The end of this month sees our Family regatta featuring the race around the island, treasure hunt on Denny, games and more!!

Come in Fancy dress – Pirate themed but anything goes on the day !

Lawn Games throughout the day – Giant Kerplunk, Buzz wire and Mega Connect 4

Approximate Timings for the day:

10.00 -11.00 Rig boats, dress, ready water pistols and other weapons etc

11.30 THE “Round the Island” Race
 – Dress your boat and fill it with pirates, superheroes, fairies etc

12. 30 Galley open for lunch/Picnic/Shore based games

14.00 Race prizegiving & Fancy Dress Parade – prizes for best costume

14.15 Denny Island Treasure Hunt
 Lead by Blackbeard Whatley
, Assisted by Short Fat Silver

Food from the galley will be served throughout the afternoon, and the bar will be open

Fun Thursdays

It’s only just over two weeks to the first FUN Thursday on the 04-Jul-24. The Police Group will provide safety cover from 1400 hours for anyone to come along for a sail. About 1730 John Smalley will run a simple FUN race for anyone who wants to take part, ideal for those who did the start racing sessions or just want to try a enjoyable FUN race, no entry fee and no prizes just bragging rights on how you thrashed our group. It is followed by a simple BBQ on the terrace by the race hut. We will supply the chef and food, all we ask is a smallish donation to cover our costs. Please let Jeff know if you intend coming to the BBQ so we can cater accordingly and any special requirements.

The second FUN Thursday is on the 18th July exactly as the first one other than our race officer will be Hugh Whatley.

Ladies Trophy Race

The Ladies Trophy Race is open to any female sailor in any class of boat

All Helms must be female but crews can be male.
Chew’s own very talented sailor Derian Scott and her sidekick Andy will be providing training in the morning and racing in the afternoon which will be followed by prize giving and tea and cake. Any female sailors who do not want to race are very welcome to come and free sail or watch and join us for tea and cake afterwards.
This is a good way to start racing as it is a friendly and supportive event whatever your level of experience.
Further details will be posted on the club facebook page nearer the time.

Remember – all the activity above is dependant on the suspension being lifted. The events will not take place while the suspension remains in force

The Great Omega Challenge

Finally the Great Omega Challenge is due to go ahead at 1100 on Saturday 20-Jul-24 when the annual contest between Steve Nash and yet to be disclosed rumoured to be an Olympic sailor crew and Jeff helmed by Sir B aka Malcolm under the watchful eye of John Smalley will take place. It is currently 2 to 1 in Jeff’s favour. The prize is the priceless Omega Challenge Gauntlet. Come and cheer us on.

Member Travels

Even in the last few weeks there has been plenty of travelling. Ollie Houseman continued to sail in the Thames events in the Merlin Rockets at Upper Thames for the River Championships.
Tom Jeffcoate has competed at both ends of the boat, in the front of a Scorpion for the Lymington Dinghy Regatta while momving to the back of a 505 for their nationals at Rock SC. The symmetric spinnakers were also represented by Ian Cadwallader, Bill Chard and Josh Preater at the Flying Fifteen Southern Champs at a very shifty Parkstone YC.
The single handers have also been away, with Peter Hogg taking his K1 to Carsington and on the youth side Toby and James Colls sailed at Saltash for the latest South West Traveller.
Also worthy of note are Sam Blakeston and Florence Patterson from Clifton College, one of our Group Members, who won the silver fleet at the RS Feva Nationals held at WPNSA.

Calendar updates

There have been a couple of updates to the sailing calendar:
With the improved PM turnouts from introducing sprint racing to the Spring PM Points, the same format will be carried forward to the Summer PM Points.
The Club Racing Regatta will have a single race in the morning as one all in start, competing for the Marshall Trophy. The afternoon racing will be 3 sprint style races for A and B Handicap fleets (PYN split at 1087), competing for the A and B Handicap Regatta trophies.

Full details can be found under the individual events on the club calendar . There is also a printable version of the calendar linked from that page (this was correct at the time it was produced, but doesn’t reflect all changes since).

Andy Jones