There’s concern a charity regatta scheduled for Lake Macquarie this weekend won’t live up to its full potential, with boaters afraid to get involved because Swansea Channel hasn’t yet been dredged.

The Heaven Can Wait Regatta is set to happen over Saturday and Sunday, raising funds for the NSW Cancer Council’s Hunter branch.

But Royal Motor Yacht Club Toronto have noticed boaters are reluctant to attend, citing an inability to navigate the channel as a major concern.

While the regatta usually attracts around 60 to 65 boats, Vice Commodore Melvin Steiner expects the turnout to fall to around 45 or 50 this year.

He says it’s disappointing not only for the community, but for the fundraising goal of half a million dollars.

“It restricts boats from other ports that normally come to the regatta, from getting into the lake,” Mr Steiner said.

“We’ve had inquiries from boats that have done the regatta before, from Sydney, asking what the depth of the channel is.” 

“As soon as you say it’s down around 1.5 or something, or less, they say we’re not coming, we can’t get in there.”

Swansea MP Yasmin Catley has been pushing the State Government for a solution since December.

It was revealed last week, Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie surpassed last year’s 55 vessel escorts through the channel in January alone. 

Transport for NSW says a dredging project will happen in the first half of 2022, but expect environmental approvals and selection of a tender to take months.

Mr Steiner says his club and other organisations had tried to raise their concerns, to no avail.

“It just seems to fall on deaf ears,” Mr Steiner said. 

“There’s been a change in the organisation, in terms of who’s responsible for doing dredging in our waterways, and they’ve really done nothing since that change and we don’t know when they’re going to start.”

Image credit: Transport for NSW