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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Peel Ports PWC incident form
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.
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…
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.”
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.
The closing date for the RYA Club of the Year 2014 is 18 November. Make sure your club has completed the Expression of Interest form to be in with a chance of being selected as on of the best clubs in the UK. Shortlisted clubs will be invited to complete a full application by 6th January 2014, and five finalists will be chosen by the RYA Honours and Awards Panel later in January, to attend the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show in March. Full details at www.rya.org.uk/go/cluboftheyear
Capt Jonathan Mills, Deputy Harbourmaster has informed us that the next meeting of the Leisure Users Forum will now be on the 26 March at Kent Boat & Ski Club starting at approx 1900. Agenda to be decided.