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UPDATE 30 March 2020

Leisure use of the canal waterway is suspended


Dear <<First Name>>

I hope you and your family are all healthy and coping with the present emergency.

In our last newsletter I said I would try to keep you updated as current events affected the Canal.

This update is to pass on a message from Exeter's Harbour Master, Grahame Forshaw, to all users of the Canal and River Exe.

Following the latest legislation passed in Parliament, the Harbour Master has written, 'My interpretation of the current situation and the new Act is as follows:

'The Home Secretary has new powers to request port closure but currently the Government is keen to keep ports open for freight and other limited commercial activity only. We will be informed and in turn advise you if this changes. 

'As far as recreational use of the River or Canal is concerned e.g. (use of leisure vessels, kite surfing, paddle boarding etc), it is not essential and those who break the new laws could be fined for doing so. 

'Use of the River and Canal at this time for recreational purposes could put the ports staff and emergency services at unnecessary risk. The guidance I have received is that exercise should be done from home. The inference being that the exercise period should be short and not involve driving to another location. 

'The public should monitor communications as there could be more detailed advice to follow. It is understood that harbour staff and those commercial employees who conduct essential activities will be allowed to continue travelling to and from work to carry out work that cannot be done from home.

'Guidance on the need for the public to attend to their own craft to ensure that they do not become the cause of an incident (sinking, oil spill or other pollution) is less clear. My interpretation of the law is that owners should contact Exeter Port Authority if they have a concern about the safety of their vessel. Owners should only consider visiting their vessels for safety critical checks, once consulting with the Exeter Port Authority by email: or phone: 07864 958658. 

'Exeter Port Authority manage the Exe estuary, and the position from the Harbour Master is clear. There should be no activity on the water except for commercial or safety related instances. Ultimately those seen to be breaking the law will be responsible for their actions. If you do make the decision to go out on the water please take a good look at the detail in the new legislation ( as you remain responsible for your own actions.

'Please remember that there are far fewer people out on the water including those who normally monitor the River and Canal, report incidents and get involved in rescuing those in distress. So if your activity is essential please wear life jackets/buoyancy aids and consider doing it when there are people around.

'Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.
Grahame Forshaw MBE MNI
Harbour Master'

 Further updates
As the situation develops we will continue to let you know if there is any additional advice as well as keep you informed about how the Friends of Exeter Ship Canal are keeping going.
In the meantime, please continue look after yourselves

With all best wishes

John Monks
Friends of Exeter Ship Canal
01392 493559


We are always keen to welcome new members who are supporters of the canal. If you know anyone who may be interested please feel free to forward this newsletter to them.

Membership is:
Individual – £8 a year
Family – £15 a year
Lifetime – £100

Corporate or business membership can also be arranged.
For all membership enquiries please contact Richard Crisp, membership secretary:
Copyright © 2020 Friends of Exeter Ship Canal, All rights reserved.

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