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Blue Green Algae

You may have noticed the recent appearance of blue-green algae on the perimeter of the reservoir. This has the potential to cause harm over the coming weeks, but the water is still open, and sailing will continue.

The RYA has provided guidance that we recommend everyone to read. A few important points include:

What is Blue-Green Algae?

Blue-green algae can cause the water to appear green, blue-green, or greenish-brown in colour. During calm weather, the algae can rise to the surface, forming scum that might resemble blue-green paint or jelly. Wind can cause the scum to accumulate on lee shores, and occasionally, the algae release toxins into the water. As a result, there's a higher risk of toxin exposure in shallow water where the algae are more concentrated. (Note: They don't always release toxins, and it's not possible to determine toxin production solely based on algae concentration.)

Is Blue-Green Algae Dangerous?

Yes, it is potentially dangerous if you come into contact with the algae toxins and consume contaminated water. Possible problems include:

  1. Skin contact - leading to rashes and eye irritation.
  2. Swallowing - resulting in vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, joint and muscle pain. So far, human effects have been limited to illness.

If you experience any symptoms, please contact your doctor immediately and seek medical advice.

How Does It Affect Sailors?

The RYA advises that sailing activities can still take place provided certain precautions are taken. The greatest risk lies in shallow water where wind or current-driven algae concentrations have built up. The scum at the water's edge is a particularly notable source of toxic material.

To minimize contact with the algae, wear snug-fitting clothing and avoid capsizing in shallow waters. Limit your time in the water. After sailing, rinse your boat and clothing with running water, and promptly wash your clothes after contact. If capsize righting drills are necessary, they are safer in deeper waters where algae concentrations are lower. Participants should thoroughly wash their hands before eating, remove any scum or algae from clothes and equipment before storing or entering the changing room.

Algae concentrations vary from day to day, particularly during hot summers. Our team is monitoring the situation and will adjust activities as needed, including changing the plan or launch area. For instance, on occasion, we may launch on the east side instead of the west side.

Duty officers will assess conditions before starting any sailing activity. They will update the Daily Information Board, located next to reception on the upper level of the clubhouse, to inform participants about the worst-affected areas and set a course that avoids these areas if necessary.

Thank you for taking the time to read this important information.