Refreshing news

You may have read reports about the lake’s water being contaminated by faecal coliform bacteria. So, what does it all mean?

Faecal coliforms are present all around us and inside us. They live in our gut. Mammals (including us humans) and fish produce them all the time. They enter our water courses through normal water run-off. After heavy rains, pollutants on farm land in particular, but also those from our driveways and pavements, get into the water. It is unavoidable.

Clevedon Marine Lake fills naturally on over-topping tides from the Bristol Channel. The Environment Agency monitors water quality on the beach adjacent to the lake during the summer season, and issues poor water quality warnings when they arise.

So, what if the lake refreshes with over-topping water during a period of contamination?

We could of course just drain it out, but that would mean it would not refill until the next sequence of over-topping tides, which could mean the lake’s empty for weeks. When this occurred in August 2018, we decided to leave the lake full and to monitor the quality further. We also posted warnings about the water quality, so people could make an informed decision about entering the water before the drain down and refresh on 8th September 2018.  There were no pollution alerts for the Bristol Channel in the run up to the drain down, so the lake should now be full of nice clean water.  To make sure, we’ll test it again on 17th September 2018, after the sequence of over-topping tides. 

Regular swimmers tend to be sanguine about the water and continue to swim as they have done daily for many years. Faecal coliform bacteria can cause gastro-enteritis symptoms or present as eye or ear infections. If any lake user is at all worried about this they should avoid using the lake until the water quality is confirmed as of at least good quality and keep a look out for updates on Clevedon Marine Lake website and social media channels.

Marlens’ Technical Team

Don’t jump into the unknown

Take notice of the safety signs around Clevedon Marine Lake. NO DIVING means NO DIVING.

There are ‘No Diving’ signs positioned around Clevedon Marine Lake. This means no diving in Clevedon Marine Lake, because most of it is shallow, the water is murky and there may be obstructions on the lake bed.

Water may look safe, but it can be dangerous. Water depth may be shallower than it seems. Submerged objects like rocks may not be visible – these can cause serious impact injuries.

Know the SIGNS. A red ring shape with a line running through it, white background and symbols mean you should NOT do this.

Lake Day 2018

Celebrating the 89th anniversary of the opening of Clevedon Marine Lake, MARLENS, the charity behind the restoration, management and further improvement of the lake, hosted its third annual Lake Day on 24th March 2018 to kick off a season full of life and activity on the lake, with free taster sessions – have-a-go canoeing, paddle boarding, rowing and model boating, plus other fun stuff going on lakeside.

Here’s an aerial view of some of the activity thanks to Geoff Langan @ Orbitance.

A splash of colour at the lake

Last month, MARLENS (Marine Lake Enthusiasts), the charity behind the lake’s 2015 restoration and continued improvements at the lake, installed three colourful ceramic murals to cheer up the concrete and stone lake surrounds.  The three designs were donated by local artist and outdoor swimmer Nancy Farmer (pictured), and bring to life different aspects of activity at the lake – cold water swimming, crabbing, model boating and a variety of water sports.

Clevedon seafront has a wonderful promenade stretching from the pier to the lake.  Recent improvements at Clevedon Marine Lake give visitors a wonderful place to enjoy not only the stunning panorama but also the buzz about the lake, in real life and now in the detail of three vibrant murals – THANKS TO NANCY!

For more information about MARLENS or to get involved contact info@marlens.org.uk

Photo credit: Hilary Jenkins-Spangler

 

Polar Bear Challenge

During the winter months, November 2017 to March 2018, lots of brave swimmers challenged themselves to swim regularly in Clevedon Marine Lake, incentivised by the Polar Bear Challenge.  The challenge, which was organised by volunteers, required participants to swim a minimum of 100m twice a month.  One way to rack up the required distance was a 100m circuit around the lake’s much-loved pontoon.  Watch this wonderful bird’s eye view of the swimmers celebrating their achievements on 25th March 2018, when individual awards were given out at Clevedon Sailing Club.  The challenge raised £500 to support Marlens, the charity behind the maintenance and development of Clevedon Marine Lake.  Well done Clevedon Polar Bears for enjoying the cold water!  And thank you Geoff Langan from Orbitance for the amazing view.

Polar bears are excellent swimmers; their scientific name, Ursus maritimus, means ‘sea bear’.  They live in countries that ring the Arctic Circle, swimming in seas of -2oC.

Marine Lake Swimmers

All hail the early bathers
Swimwear on before the dawn
Then entering the water
As autumn day is born
Mirrored surface broken
As cross the lake they power
Immune they to the coldness
At this the waking hour
They say it’s warmer in there
Than standing on the brink
But some are made for swimming
While others merely sink.

PETER GIBBS, September 2017

Converting harmful into helpful

Watch the world’s first kayak being manufactured from 100% recycled beach plastic, using plastic collected from Devon & Cornwall beach cleans under the BeachCare programme.  The intention is for the recycled beach plastic kayaks to be used by community group volunteers to collect marine plastic from the water for recycling.

The initiative is the brainchild of marine conservationist Rob Thompson who launched Fathoms Free Paddle for Plastic campaign in January 2018, as another way to help combat the damage to marine life and ecology caused by waste plastic from the fishing industry and food packaging.  The project is about converting harmful into helpful, with plastic from the sea going back into the sea; a virtuous circle to counter the increasingly vicious circle plaguing the world’s oceans.

Rob founded Fathoms Free in 2014 in response to his experience of marine plastic when diving.  Globally, 300 million tonnes of non-biodegradable plastic are produced each year, with an estimated 8 million tonnes of it entering the sea.  With 70% of it sinking, there is a huge job to do cleaning up below the shoreline, as well as above and along it.

The ‘harmful into helpful’ model ticks all the boxes.  It enables access to inaccessible coves, estuaries and other areas not frequented by regular beach cleaners, provides a means of disposal for the plastic generated through clean-ups and helps fund Fathoms Free conservation activities.

For over two years, Rob has worked in partnership with BeachCare and Keep Britain Tidy to develop a circular economy business model to build the infrastructure (ocean plastic collection, sorting, recycling, storage facilities) for manufacturing sea-to-sea plastic products including a bodyboard and prototype sit-on-top kayak, recycling around 7 tonnes of beach waste over the past year in partnership with Exeter City Council.

To complement land-based beach clean projects such as the Marine Conservation Society’s Beachwatch, the Paddle for Plastic campaign is designed to encourage paddlers to help tackle the ocean plastic floating off our coastline.

In February 2018, Palm Equipment, based just outside Clevedon, North Somerset, moulded the world’s first, 100% recycled beach plastic kayak to help promote the campaign. More kayaks are to be produced and distributed to clubs in the Southwest over the coming months to raise awareness amongst the paddling fraternity and encourage paddlers to unite against marine plastic.  The scale of the problem is immense, but if lots of people get involved it will make a significant difference.

Bob Slee, Technical Director at Palm Equipment adds, ‘I personally am very passionate about this especially as TV programmes like Blue Planet and Countryfile have pushed this into the limelight in a way that only TV can. It’s a hot topic with government backing, and for a small company like Palm to become involved in this is something special.  Palm is delighted to be part of such a ground-breaking campaign and excited about its positive impact.’

Kate Gay (March 2018)

Ship shape and Bristol fashion

Ship shape and Bristol fashion

The Marlens’ technical team have been kept busy around Clevedon Marine Lake during the winter months doing lots of essential maintenance and repair work as well as installing new facilities such as the concrete benches and donation boxes. As Lake Day approaches on Saturday 24th March, the pace will pick up to ensure everything’s ship shape to kick start lake season.

Alan Wilson, who heads up all things technical at the lake, fills us in:

The Lake doesn’t exactly care for itself! There will be litter picking sessions occurring with increasing frequency over the next few weeks. As the weather improves, and spring is anticipated, we will have more visitors to the lake and that inevitably generates more work for us!

On 10th March we will be carrying out the first deep clean of the season in the splash pools.  We stop the water entering the pool, drain it and then pressure wash it to remove silt and any algae. We’re currently exploring a paint treatment for the bottom of the splash pools to help reduce any build up. 

On 17th March we will replace the flags on the upper promenade (supplied by North Somerset Council) and put the splash pool hand pump back in place.

If we can get a few dry days without seawater lapping over the lake edges, we will also be painting new ‘NO DIVING’ notices around the lake border. The donation boxes will also go back up over the next few weeks following the initial vandal attack.

Subject to funding being available, we will also try to get more concrete plinth benches in place this year.

De-silting the lake bed has been deferred until late autumn to avoid draining the lake during peak season.

Any volunteers or BLOG readers with useful DIY skills are welcome to join our technical team. We can always use more help! 

To offer help or enquire about 2018 lake maintenance and improvement projects, please contact info@clevedonmarinelake.co.uk  To keep up-to-date on all lake news, follow us on Facebook

Alan Wilson, 26th February 2018

Writing on the Lake

Writing on the Lake: an anthology of poetry and prose inspired by Clevedon Marine Lake

Writing on the Lake was published by the Clevedon Community Press in April 2016 in collaboration with Marlens. It is a celebration of the lake, inspired by the lake. Thirty-three local people share their vivid memories and imaginations and feelings about this amazing place.

£4.95 from Clevedon Community Bookshop

The Bristol Channel – 2 bites of the cherry

The Bristol Channel – 2 bites of the cherry

I’m 2 ½ hours into my attempt to cross from Penarth to Clevedon and my enthusiasm has got the better of me. It is August 2015, a flood tide is filling the Bristol Channel whilst a Force 5 North-Easterly is blowing and I fully realise the implications of wind against tide. I’m in the middle of a maelstrom, a washing machine of silted water, as the small window of opportunity I thought I had has firmly closed. Swimming in metre high waves coming at you broadside is bad enough but when you are trying to feed and the boat is being blown past you, something has to give. I swam to the boat and called the attempt off.

Let’s provide a bit more background here. In 2015, I was halfway through my ‘apprenticeship’.  In 2010 I learnt that I had osteoarthritis in my hips and was advised that further climbing was going to cause me more pain. The GP advice was to take up swimming.  I could breast stroke but it struck me that this was a chance to learn front crawl, something I had always wanted to do. Whilst being instructed, I fell head-over-heels with the activity especially the idea of adventurous, open water swimming. I realised that I was never going to set the world on fire for speed in a pool and coming from an outdoor background meant that swimming outdoors was always going to be more attractive.

Serving an apprenticeship means learning from experience and looking to improve and develop. I was swimming three times a week to put the skills into practice, I found a coach and started to establish a working relationship with and I researched articles, viewed videos, read interesting pieces and spoke to and observed other, better swimmers to help me become a more skilled practitioner.

Leading a school expedition to Ecuador in 2012 had first put the idea of the Bristol Channel in my head. One of my students spoke about her brother, Gary Carpenter, being the youngest person to have completed the swim. In 2013, I first came across Steve Price, who had not only completed the Channel, the North Channel and the Bristol Channel but had even completed a double Bristol Channel crossing. After completing the Dart 10k in 2012, I was looking around for bigger and longer challenges and the close proximity of the Bristol Channel seemed to fit the bill. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for…

One month later, I find myself in the midst of that Channel again. But I feel in a very different position. It is two hours since I left Penarth and everything feels good. The weather is due to change with a rising wind coming from the SW and I know the boat skipper is concerned about the change in the wind and its impact on the tides. We start the slow turn for home past Flat Holm and then Steep Holm in the distance. The English coastline beckons. I had visualised myself swimming into Clevedon in a god-like manner, all coolness and composure. The reality was quite different. The force 4 wind from the SW meant that waves were being created that hit the sandbanks of the relatively shallow channel. This was creating small ‘stopper’ waves that I was hitting time after time. It was exhausting, hard and mentally tough. 6 ¼ hours after leaving Penarth I crawled onto the slipway at Clevedon, battered, bruised but victorious.

This was my most major swim to date and I learnt a great deal from the experience. Trust the team around you from the pilot and their expertise to my partner, Gillian, who knew I hadn’t fed well during the crossing. Put in the hard work with your coach, from boring drills through to long swims, so that your skills are engrammed and your stroke is the best it can be. Gather as much information as you can to prepare you for the range of experiences and feelings you’re going to face. Mentally prepare yourself for the ‘dark’ time, when you are at your lowest so that you can look in the mirror, note the gleam in your eye, grit your teeth and endure.

This year I’m supporting Kari Furre by swimming Windermere with her and in September/October, I’m planning to swim from Portishead to Sand Bay Point – a 10 mile swim that has never been done before. The horizon is beckoning and the possibilities are endless…

Jo McCready