Norfolk boating company bans alcohol after bad guest behaviour

Many tourists to the Norfolk Broads like to explore the tranquil and unspoilt scenery by hiring boat, but one boating company has introduced new rules which prohibit alcohol drinks onboard boats being hired for the day, following several incidents involving drunken guests.

Hippersons Boatyard in Beccles, Suffolk revealed boaters were “over-refreshed”, urinating off the deck, while others were rude to staff when challenged over their actions.

Director Mary Sparrow explained how a “minority of guests” would “load up the day boats with crates of beer” and it was “causing problems”.

But the guests weren’t just drinking on board, they were “mooring up” at nearby pubs and beer gardens, “drinking all day,” then coming back to the boat and drinking more.

She said they recieved several complaints from other guests and phone calls from “unhappy” people who had “seen them along the river with our boat name on it”.

Drunken behaviour also led to some boats being damaged and staff facing abuse.

“A few years back”, Mary said “damage [was] done to the boats” which in turn, “affected our income”.

She explained how the company can’t afford “reputational damge”, or to pay for constant repairs, “and we certainly don’t want our staff to be treated in a bad manner”.

Instead, Hippersons Boatyard wants guests to “have a good time on The Broads, to come back to the Broads and also be safe”.

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Driving a boat while under the influence of alcohol can be “quite problematic” Mary noted.

She also compared hiring a boat to hiring a car, stating no driver would “buy a six pack of beer and drink it while driving along”.

The company’s decision to ban alcohol on all boats hired for a day has proved to be a success.

Mary told The Telegraph there were initial concerns they would lose customers but they havent. “A lot of people are really pleased with the rule and think it’s a good thing,” she added.

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As for whether other boat companies will consider implementing a similar alcohol ban onboard their boats, Mary said she hasn’t heard anything yet.

But expects the issue will be raised at the next meeting of Visit the Broads – the Broads tourism-related business voice of which she is the chairperson.

Rob Rogers, director of operations at the Broads Authority told the BBC that it’s up to each company to put mitigation measures in place.

He recognised those hiring the boats were tourists often on holiday, who wanted to have a “good time, and enjoying good food and wine often goes with that”.

But he did say that the Broads Authority also reminds people to “balance their alcohol intake”, “always wear a life jacket” when onboard “and don’t overindulge in alcohol”.

The boating bylaw says no one should navigate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to such an extent as to be incapable of taking proper control of it.

Therefore, drinking and driving a boat isn’t illegal, as long as the person driving it is in control.

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