Jet skiers successfully prosecuted by PLA

A jet skier who flouted speed limit and safety rules on the tidal Thames has been fined, following a successful prosecution by the Port of London Authority. Kestutis Abramavicius, 36, was captured on video by a member of the public as he sped along the river near Benfleet Creek, Canvey Island, Essex. Westminster Magistrates Court heard how the offence took place in October last year. Abramavicius, of Dukes Avenue, Grays, admitted “navigation without due care and attention” under Section 108 of the Port of London Act. He was fined £750 and ordered to pay costs of more than £3,000. The court was told that there is an eight-knot speed limit throughout the Canvey Island area, which is in place to protect river users and the environment. He was identified with the help of Essex Police by the checking of launching records at a local slipway which matched the description of his distinctively coloured jet ski. Benfleet Creek is an environmentally protected area for its habitats and vegetation. Wash generated by the jet ski had the potential to affect this sensitive environment, the court was told yesterday (Wednesday 8 May). The prosecution comes in the wake of a similar incident, where Lee Martin, 31, from Gravesend was last month fined £2,750 and ordered to pay costs of more than £3,500 for ignoring a ban on jet skiing on the river in central London. After the hearing, PLA chief harbour master Bob Baker said: “We think this prosecution, following on from last month’s jet ski case, will again serve as a warning to river users. If you break the rules, we will take action. “We are also very grateful to the member of the public who recorded the offender committing the offence. Their help was vital to this prosecution and it demonstrates just how concerned people are about safety on the river and its environment.”

Medway/Swale Boating Conference, 9 March 2019

Liz Rushall

Dave Selby

Will your club exist in ten years’ time? Our 2019 conference will focus on the future of our local clubs, which still form the core of active boating on the Medway and Swale. A major report has highlighted a decline in participation in most but not all watersports. Sailing in particular is in free fall. So what exactly is going wrong and what are we going to do about it? Key speakers Liz Rushall and Dave Selby will present different views on how our clubs can adapt to a changing world. Other speakers will present how local clubs are successfully dealing with ageing membership and new styles of boating. Get your earlybird ticket here…

It’s getting worse! Please report all PWC incidents

Although many owners of personal watercraft (PWCs or jetskis) are responsible, anyone can see reckless and irresponsible behaviour almost any day on the Medway and the Swale. These craft are usually launched from Commodore’s Hard at Gillingham, where the MSBA has installed a high definition camera (see video above), or near Kingsferry Bridge on the Swale, where jetskiers have regularly tried to sink small craft on the boat club moorings presumably for fun. There have been several life-threatening incidents but the perpetrators are invariably abusive when challenged. At Gillingham the Medway Watersports Centre has had to cancel youth activities because of the jetskiers’ apparently drunken and dangerous behaviour. Peel Ports, as the statutory harbour authority, have a duty to enforce the bye-laws but will not do so unless we report all incidents. Please download the form below and use it to report ALL incidents to the MSBA and we will pass them on to Peel Ports.  Email your reports to secretary@msba.org.uk

Peel Ports PWC incident form

Police chase PWCs

John Wall took a video of the police RIB chasing the PWCs up the Medway on 28 April. There is a 6 knot speed limit upstream of Folly Point and the wash from speeding vessels is a danger to boaters in dinghies going to their moorings. The MSBA has a CCTV camera at Gillingham Strand, where the PWCs are usually launched, to monitor antisocial and irresponsible activities on the river.

MSBA launches CCTV to monitor rogue jetskis

Here’s some terrifying video from the new CCTV camera sponsored by the MSBA and hosted at Medway Cruising Club, giving a good view of Commodore’s Hard and Gillingham Reach. The antisocial and dangerous behaviour of some PWC/jetski users (and other speeding vessels) has been a safety issue for many years but neither the harbour authority nor the police have been able or willing to put a stop to it, despite the 6 knot speed limit. Gavin Parson, MSBA committee member and acting Secretary, hopes to provide live access to our camera via this website soon. As they say, watch this space…

Speeding PWC causes crew to fall from mast in Gillingham Reach

On Sunday afternoon, 9 April, a man fell about 10 feet onto another crew member from the mast of a yacht moored in Gillingham Reach. While the injured man was given oxygen, the Sheerness Inshore Lifeboat fetched a paramedic from an ambulance waiting at Gillingham Marina and then transferred him ashore. We understand the man suffered broken ribs.

There were two jet skis and eight personal watercraft (PWCs) in the area at the time and some of these were creating a lot of wash which was a nuisance and hazard to youngsters being trained in dinghy sailing at the Strand. The speed limit here is 6 knots (approx 7mph). Trevor Peen, a director of Medway Watersports, radioed Medway VTS to report this activity but could not get a response. When he called by phone he was told there was nothing they could do.

Mr Peen said, “I have campaigned for several years for parties to manage this situation, which gets worse every year to the point that these PWCs can achieve speeds in excess of 50 mph. During the afternoon I overheard a call on the VHF that there was an incident 1 mile east of the marina. It just so happens that I also belong to the Medway Cruising Club where these moorings are, so I know the area well. I went down to slow traffic down in the river as someone had fallen from a mast, I was told by the people on the boat that three speeding PWCs had created so much wash that the guy fell from the mast.”

Mr Peen added, “Three years ago when there was an incident that involved these craft on a jetty at Gillingham Marina, I was interviewed by BBC South east. I said that until someone dies here then nothing will be done. I have reported these incidents so often including photos. Please don’t let someone’s son or daughter die at the Strand.”

Medway Council rejects petition to improve public slipway

A petition, led by Trevor Peen of Medway Waterports Centre, to repair the last remaining public slipway and access road at Commodore’s Hard, Gillingham, has been rejected by Medway Council. Robin Cooper, the Council’s Director of Regeneration, Community and Culture, stated that the slipway had been recently cleared of mud and was in as good condition as the Harty Ferry slipway on the Isle of Sheppey. Trevor says he will appeal on the grounds that the petition has not been dealt with properly.

Commodore’s Hard is used to access the river by neighbouring sailing clubs, rowers, canoeists, dinghy sailors, sea scouts and other youth organisations.