Danger of getting close to ships

Ships in the Medway and Swale can’t slow down as they need a certain speed to steer. Also they have to stay in the dredged channel to stay afloat, so they can’t swerve to avoid small craft. The video shows what can happen when a jet ski crossed the bow wave of a ship, behaviour often seen in our home waters. Video from Hampshire Police Marine Support Unit.

Jet ski crashes into Sheppey beach

Following the recent spate of incidents of irresponsible and illegal behaviour by users of PWCs, Tim Bell has sent us this video of two lads crashing onto a beach at Minster after losing control of their jet ski. The Medway Ports by-laws have strict limits on speed and where personal watercraft can be used on the Medway and Swale. Video by Denis Gordo.

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.