Private cruisers on the Broads at a record high

Stephen PullingerThe number of private motor cruisers ploughing their way across the Norfolk Broads is at an all time high.Stephen Pullinger

The number of private motor cruisers ploughing their way across the Norfolk Broads is at an all time high.

And as the Broads Authority celebrates a record 4,746 registered craft in 2009, a snap survey of boat-building firms in the region has revealed a buoyant sense of optimism.

The latest figures mean the number of private cruisers on the Broads is nearly double the number in 1980 - and John Packman, chief executive of the Broads Authority, puts the record-breaking 2009 statistics down to last summer's sunny weather.

The figures also show there were 855 hire motor cruisers in 2009.

It is hoped this year will see a repeat of the figures - giving the Broads Authority a �2.5m income from boat users to spend on maintaining the Broads' tranquil and scenic riverways.

Mr Packman said: 'Private motor cruisers are at an all time high. There has been a consistent rise in the popularity of private motor cruising on the Broads over the last 30 years and 2010 looks like being another good year.

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'We will spend �940,000 on dredging to maintain water depth, �500,000 on patrolling and about �450,000 on maintenance such as moorings, channel marking and weed clearance.

'Last year's good summer is helping to pay for the expense of looking after the fragile area of the Broads.'

In total the number of boats on the Broads in 2009 was 12,331.

Meanwhile some boat-building firms on the Broads are seeing a rise in business or their order books fill up with request for cruisers, boats and yachts.

Colin Buttifant, who runs family business Swallowtail Boatyard, a yacht-builders at Ludham, said his order books were full until 2013.

He said: 'I think most small boatyards like ours are quite busy at the moment. Maybe the larger boatyards are struggling a bit.'

At the boat and launch restoration company Classic Boatworks at Woodbastwick, staff are working on a 40ft Thames pleasure cruiser and have recently handed over a 26ft pleasure craft to the newly opened Waterside Restaurant at Rollesby.

Owner Rupert Latham said: 'We are incredibly busy at the moment.'

At Hoveton-based yacht building firm Landamores there are seven craft in its workshop. Director Kevin Webster said orders were steady and that it had been quite a busy year so far.