As the UK returns to the new normal, the effects of the Covid pandemic are starting to show in the world of boat disposal.
One of the common conversations we now seem to be having with older boatowners is that Covid has become the last straw in their decision to scrap their boat. Everyone has had months away from their boat, but the bills still needed to be paid. Even now with the lifting of restrictions and widely available vaccines many owners have decided to cut their losses.
I think it’s fair to say that many boat owners in the UK are in the older demographic. So to see so many people parting with their boats due to the pandemic is a shame.
We expect there is also another element to the situation. If you had a boat on your driveway that is an unfinished project, seeing it every single day during lockdown would either give you the perfect chance to work on the boat or to realise that you probably never will. Unfinished project boats that were never destined to see the sea has been a common collection for Boatbreakers since lockdown lifted.
Another big trend seems to be people buying boats for the first time. With holidays being almost impossible for the year people are getting into boating.
Whilst this has brought a welcome wave of newfound enthusiasm for boating in the UK, it will be interesting to see whether people stick or twist when a foreign holiday is on the cards again. Especially if they are committed to expensive mooring fees.
Like the whole country the Boatbreakers team was affected by the pandemic. To keep ourselves busy we decided to setup a new Facebook group called Boat Scrapyard. Our general idea was to let people see what boats we had coming in. Plus the boat bits we had in stock and to ask general boating questions.
What started as a little side project during lockdown has now snowballed into more than 21,000 members. Now when a scrap boat comes in we post on the group and people can request the recycled parts they’re looking for.
Social media could play a big part in helping deal with the problem of end-of-life boats. People can highlight these abandoned boats when they see them by posting pictures and starting discussions. The conversation around the old boats also helps to highlight the issue that something needs to be done.
Since our last articles for Marine Industry News back before Covid, very little has changed in the way of an official developments to the end of lifeboat process. But I can’t say we are surprised.
There may be new research into processes that could one-day help us to deal with the end of life Fibreglass however in real terms there is still no company we can call to send the whole boat to that will recycle the FRP waste.
One new study by the University of Brighton has found that Fibreglass particles have been found in local Oysters in Chichester Harbour. This means that old boats are having a direct impact on the environment around us. It will be interesting to see if people’s attitudes change when they realise that eating locally caught seafood could mean they’re inadvertently eating locally abandoned boats.