By TIM HOWARD
A DISTURBING assault on a family attempting to provision their yacht while moored at the McLachlan Park Wharf in Maclean has led to calls for more effective policing of the area.
Ashby residents Paddy and Kevin Armstrong, who met the couple earlier on Sunday while sailing on the river, said the Melbourne couple moored their catamaran, Cheers, at the wharf where a group of young people boarded the vessel, attempted to damage fittings and swore and spat at the couple and their children.
Mrs Armstrong said she had heard of an earlier incident where some young people got into a dinghy tied behind a moored yacht, started the motor and attempted to damage the boat by ramming it into the wharf.
Owners of the nearby 5 Star Supermarket at Maclean Bob and Judith Little have also been accosted by young people outside their business.
"It's quite concerning. It's happened quite a few times and occasionally we have to call the police," Mr Little said.
"A couple of times my wife, Judith, has been threatened, although nothing more has come of it."
Mr Little said he had no gripe with young people coming to the park to play and swim in the river.
"Next to our shop we have a little wharf and a rope swing which children like to play on," he said.
"But if they bring alcohol or drugs with them, we tell them they're not welcome while they're drinking or affected by something else."
HE said most times the youngsters moved on, but occasionally things flared up and police were called.
"The police are quite good really," Mr Little said.
"If we have to call them, they come straight down here.
"A month ago they told us they were going to have a blitz on the area and asked us and the staff to let them know if anything was happening. They carried out regular checks of the area and things were pretty good in that period of time."
Mrs Armstrong said she was worried these sort of attacks would ruin the region's reputation in the sailing community.
"In recent times we have noticed more and more yachties coming up to the Clarence," she said.
"It's got to be one of the best pristine places for visiting if you're sailing up the East Coast."
She said yachting guru Alan Lucas included the Clarence as a 'must-visit' entry in his publications such as Cruising the NSW Coast and Cruising the Coral Coast.
"Just about every yachtie would have one of his books in their boat," Mrs Armstrong said.
Maclean Chamber of Commerce president Jody Toyer said the chamber was concerned by the attacks and had put the issue on the agenda for its Monday meeting.
Mrs Armstrong has written to the chamber, which members will discuss. The letter and resolution from the meeting will be passed onto the police and Clarence Valley Council.
Ms Toyer, an experienced sailor, said she was aware that the Maclean wharf had a bad reputation.
"Yachting magazines sing the praises of the Clarence as a sailing destination, but warn visitors not to tie up at the wharf," she said.
Ms Toyer, whose business B & K Blinds and Awnings is opposite the boulevarde area and McLachlan Park, witnessed an example of the problem on Wednesday afternoon.
She said a girl, who she believed was still at high school, collapsed after spending some of the afternoon drinking with friends in the park.
"What can you do? As far as her parents were concerned, she had caught the school bus and was safe at home," Ms Toyer said.
She said police had told the chamber people should not attempt to call local police, but to dial 000 if confronted with this sort of problem.
"The police told us to dial the emergency number because often the station at Maclean will not be manned if the officer on duty is called out," Ms Toyer said.
"They said that by calling 000, at least the call would be recorded."