For more than six decades it was a common sight to see Tamar Yacht Club members' vessels moored on kanamaluka/Tamar River.
The club, which is one of the oldest in the southern hemisphere, recorded its first regatta on the river in 1837. In 1998 the club purchased its headquarters on Park Street.
Life member Ken Gourlay grew up playing around on his family's boats moored on the Tamar river - his father's and later his own.
Mr Gourlay started sailing in 1962 when he was seven years old - and has seen first hand what the changes in the Tamar estuary have done to sailing culture in Launceston.
IN OTHER NEWS:
- Listen to our new audio briefings on your smart speaker
- Another person tests positive for coronavirus
- COVID positive tests returned on overseas travellers in Tas hotel quarantine
- Michael Ferguson's defamation case starts in court
- Fragrance hotel appeal decision handed down
- All the smiles from UTAS summer graduation
"I've gone from sailing and mooring my dad's boats in the river, to my own mooring and sailing, to no sailing at all in the Tamar," he said.
Mr Gourlay said the degradation of the river was apparent to those who used it - and he said members had experienced the build-up of silt.
Tamar Yacht Club commodore Greg Hall said the problem with the river was easy to describe - "there's no water left, the bottom has come up and the mud has encroached from the sides and made the estuary much shallower and narrower."
The changes in the river forced the club to relocate its sailing operations 55 kilometres north to Beauty Point - at considerable cost.
RELATED STORY:Swimming in the Tamar near Launceston may never be safe
Mr Gourlay said interest in sailing had grown in popularity in recent years. However, the distance to Beauty Point was a deterrent for those interested in joining the club.
While the debate about how to fix the problems facing the river have raged, Mr Gourlay said the club had chosen to not engage in it.
But they say now is the time to break their silence and demand a solution.
"We do not accept the mantra that has been given to us that we must learn to love the mud," Mr Gourlay said.
The Yacht Club was prompted to break its silence over the state of the river following the launch of The Examiner's campaign examining the health of the estuary.
Our River - Exploring the health of the Tamar Estuary:
Solutions to resolve the problem of silt and mud build-up in the Tamar are being explored by a variety of parties, including the Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce supported by NRM North.
A common theme to emerge from these investigations is that the estuary is supposed to have silt and they need to be maintained.
However, Mr Gourlay said recreational boat users of the river, such as the yacht club, rejected that.
"It nearly brings tears to our eyes, that assertion, that we must love our failure," he said.
Mr Gourlay said the failures of the past, and decisions made for Launceston's combined stormwater, along with power generation had resulted in the Tamar River's contaminated state.
In a series of studies on water quality produced by NRM North, the water in stage one, which is from Launceston to Legana, had the highest level of contaminants and pollution.
RELATED STORY:What scientists say about the health of the Tamar River
However, the rating has improved from a fail to an F in the most recent 2020 study.
Mr Gourlay said the Yacht Club had cause to think about its future, and were determined to bring "life back to the Tamar River".
He said improving the water quality, flow and returning clean water to the estuary would enable them to return to their home base and boost sailing opportunities in Launceston.
Previous activities they would like to reinstate includes night sailing, junior and adult regattas and training, opportunities for people living with a disability and school groups.
"It would bring life back to the centre of the CBD, and who doesn't want that?" Mr Hall said.
- The Tamar Yacht Club has produced plans for its fix for kanamaluka/Tamar River and will reveal them on Friday.