A serious warning has been issued by Bristol’s fire and council authorities telling people not to take a dip in Bristol’s Floating Harbour, after pictures were taken of two men leaping from the steam crane into the water below.
Avon Fire and Rescue, the harbourmaster and Bristol City Council have warned people they are risking their own lives and those of others by doing so, saying the water is often polluted, cold and dangerous.
The warnings came after a rise in incidents generally of people having to be rescued after entering the water.
At the same time, a campaign has begun by wild swimmers to create a safe ‘wild swimming area’, with the suggestion of the Cumberland Basin, although this has been met with formal warnings about prosecutions from the harbourmaster of anyone repeatedly going for a swim in the water.
The images were captured at dusk on Saturday evening by local photographer Tereza Nekvasilova.
She said two young men climbed up onto the deck and then the cab of the steam crane, near Wapping Wharf, and one jumped in feet first, while the second one dived into the water below.
Levels of e-coli at nearby Prince Street Bridge were measured at 800 counts per 100ml last week, June 8, in the latest Bristol City Council tests, and the quality of the water, combined with the dangers of swimming in cold water, particularly if combined with alcohol, has led to stern warnings from civic leaders about the dangers of getting in the water.
The floating harbour is also of varying depths – and has a number of submerged hazards too.
“Bristol’s working harbour is not a place to swim,” the council said. “It’s dangerous and against the local by-laws designed to ensure safety.
“The health and safety of all harbour users is our first priority and we urge people not to endanger themselves and others by swimming in this area.
“As the Harbour Authority, the council conducts regular safety checks and has ensured measures such as life rings, improving visibility of quayside ladders and installing more life chains in certain high-risk areas are in place.
“As with any large harbour or waterway, we cannot completely remove all risks and would urge people not to endanger themselves and others by swimming in this area,” he added.
While Bristol City Council are leading the campaign to stop people entering the floating harbour, it will be Avon Fire and Rescue who have to rescue people who get into difficulty in the water.
“During spells of warm weather, there are those who will put themselves in danger by cooling off in the Floating Harbour, but remember – outdoor swimming can have fatal consequences,” said a spokesperson for Avon Fire and Rescue service.
“Drownings can happen quickly and without warning and can have a devastating impact,” she added.