Yacht Club in Survival Battle

| April 9, 2015

For a while the empty Gaborone Dam has been the talk-of-the-town due to the fact that it is finally drying up making life in and around the country’s capital city unbearable and uncertain.

Gaborone Yatch Club (GYC) is one of the hardest hit entities by the drying effects of the dam as some of its core activities were recently suspended pending the hoped recovery of the dam.

Although the business, which is situated on a small island in the middle of the dam, is still hanging on and hoping that it will rain to bring back the life of the dam, the reality is there for everyone to see.

Gaborone Yacht Club was established in 1965 with the first committee meeting being held in September 1965. The club was originally located on the eastern side of the dam, but in 1984 the club secured a lease with Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) and relocated to the present site, at the tip of a rock on the western side.

The club offers a good scenic view of the dam when one is facing the eastern direction towards the hills that form the peripheral border with neighboring South Africa. People who throng GYC usually watch with passion as rain downpours heavily across the border while their dam waits with envy to receive water to evade drying up.

In 1988 the dam wall was raised and when the dam filled up, the new site became an island, and, for many years, when the dam was full, the only access to the site was by ferry.

Nowadays, there is a raised ramp which allows for vehicular access all year round, and, according to Gaborone Yacht Club manager, Electra Vye, the club caters for sailing, canoeing and rowing, and is open to members and their guests.

She attests that visitors are also welcome to share the best view in town on Wednesday and Friday evenings when the bar is open, and food and snacks are served from 5 to 11pm. On Saturdays and Sundays it is open from 10:00am to 5pm, she says, adding that temporary membership of up to five visits can be obtained at the entrance at other times.

However, Ms Vye says that safety is of highest priority to the GYC and anybody going out on a boat is obliged to wear a life jacket.

Caring for the environment is also important for the club as members and visitors are expected to respect the fauna and flora on the island and they are encouraged not to litter the entire dam buffer zone.

The Water Utilities Corporation recently declared Gaborone Dam as failed, meaning that drinking water can no longer be pumped from the dam.

In this regard, sailing and rowing have also been suspended for the time being due to the vulnerability and risk of hitting rocks, houses and tree stumps that have now protruded above the water surface.

Ms Vye says she is amazed that for all the past years they have been sailing over objects and structures like buildings, rocks, tree stumps and logs that were used to fence yards and kraals of the Catholics who used to inhabit the area before paving way for the dam construction to lodge at Forest Hill in Kgale.

While the dam is drying up, Vye says it is however still good for canoeing and that there are lots of interesting places to explore the Yacht Club house remains open and it still offers the best view in town.

She says people are not allowed to bring dogs at the club as the proximity of the dam prides with wild animals like kudus, snakes, warthog, rock rabbits and a huge variety of birds life that includes flamingoes, herons, fish eagles, kingfishers, lilac breasted rollers, yellow billed hornbill and others.

Gaborone Yacht Club will be celebrating its 50th birthday this year with lots of events, safe for, sadly, sailing as the dam is now less than 3 per cent full.

Preparations and consultations are ongoing to ensure that the celebration becomes a success.

“We need to commemorate it even if our dam is empty,” she points out.

Gaborone Dam construction began in 1963 and it captured water from the Ngotwane River at a time when the new capital city of Gaborone was in the planning stages. The original dam was complete in 1964 and the dam is an earth core fill structure. During the 1965-66 rainy season the reservoir filled and overflowed.

Between 1983 and 1985 the dam was raised by 7 metres to increase its capacity to reach a maximum height of 25 metres and a length of 3.6 kilometres.

Raising the dam had to be done extremely carefully to ensure that the impervious upstream zone of the dam remained intact and was extended up the raised bank. Most of the reservoir is less than 3 metres deep.

The surface area of the reservoir when full is up to 15 square kilometres. Until completion of the Dikgatlhong Dam in 2011, the Gaborone dam was the largest in Botswana.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Sports

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