Poorly marked lobster pots and fishing gear are the most difficult and unpredictable hazard facing coastal cruising people. Fishermen, too, report the loss of expensive gear as a result of entanglements. These encounters could even be life-threatening. In one year alone the RNLI dealt with 295 incidents of fouled propellers. Most Cruising Association members say they would try to sort the problem out themselves so this could be a fraction of the actual number. One lifeboat station said 25% of their call-outs were purely from boats caught up in fishing gear.
Nick Ardley is an eccentric, an anachronism from a simpler age, for the way he sails his clinker sloop around the Thames estuary. In Rochester to Richmond: A Thames Estuary Sailor’s View. The book is a reflective journey between Rochester and London, a path once of commerce, but now pleasure. Rochester was of immense importance to Britain’s past trading richness too. The belching chimneys pouring acrid fumes and cement dust have evaporated. Oil refineries have slipped away, but wharves lining the banks survive. As a distraction, he wanders a little above Rochester and then again, a little above the Pool of London towards Richmond. Between, he lands amongst the marsh and mud, finding graves and farmsteads enveloped in purslane and lavender. Many towns sailed past were part of this heritage, supplying building materials and food carried by the tan-sailed barge to London. Ardley dips and dabbles into these communities and explores how they have transformed.
Nick will have copies available on Whimbrel at the Queenborough Classic Boat Festival on 9+10 September.
The people of Faversham have voted by a large majority for the Creek Neighbourhood Plan, which was a condition by Swale Borough Council for the release of £200,000 to restore the swing bridge at the head of the Creek. Opening the bridge will enable regeneration of the Creek Basin, with wharves and dredging, to improve navigability along the Creek, increase tourism and make the area a great place for residents too.
Anchoring in Stangate Creek in the heart of the Medway Estuary, which is a Marine Conservation Zone, is to be prohibited from today, April 1st, following the discovery of several colonies of tentacled lagoon worms Alkmaria romijni. These creatures normally only grow to a few millimetres but in the unique environmental conditions of the creek several specimens have been found up to a metre long hiding in the hitherto unsuspected coral formations. Known until now only to local fishermen, who used to supply the delicacy to the scampi factory in Queenborough, the worms are thought to have arrived on the bottoms of ships quarantined in the creek in the nineteenth century. A spokesman for the harbour authority, now known as Peel Ports London, announced that special worm-friendly moorings for recreational boaters will be installed using funds accumulated over many years from conservancy fees.
Nigel Rigby on Captain James Cook RN – Britain’s greatest mariner explorer, navigator, cartographer. Nigel works for the National Maritime Museum, which holds world-class collections of Cook-related material. The Museum has staged Cook exhibitions and galleries since it first opened in 1937, and it is currently developing a new gallery which is due to open in 2018, on the anniversary of Cook’s departure from Deptford. Nigel’s talk will look at how the Museum’s displays of Cook have changed over the years and how they are planning to use him in the new gallery.
The Cruising Association Kent Section Winter Warmers are held at The Dog & Bear Hotel, The Square, Lenham, ME17 2PG. Situated 8 miles east of Maidstone, just off the A20 in the village square. All are welcome. There is a small charge of £3. Many eat beforehand and it helps speed up service if you telephone the pub on 01622 858219 and order your meal before 5pm.
63-year-old yachtsman Ken Milburn, a member of Lower Halstow Yacht Club, has visited the RNLI station at Sheerness to personally thank the crew. In the early hours of 19 May Ken fell into the water when loading gear from his dinghy. Fortunately someone heard his cries for help and the crew of the Sheerness Inshore Lifeboat came to the rescue. Ken says a simple safety measure saved him, “Put your life jacket on. Go for a self-inflating one – fifty quid to save your life. Without one I would not be here!”
The Sheerness Lifeboat team reports that a man clinging for his life to a buoy for two hours in the dark in the Medway Estuary was rescued by a Good Samaritan and Sheerness RNLI lifeboat volunteers. The 64 year old man had transferred from his yacht moored in Halstow Creek to a dinghy which then capsized, leaving him in the perilously cold water alone at night. Eventually the man’s cries for help were heard by someone in a nearby house sparking an emergency 999 call to the Coastguard and a late night launch of Sheerness RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Eleanor at 12.05am on Thursday 19 May.
Within less than half an hour of leaving their beds, the charity’s volunteer crew reached the area at 12.27pm and immediately launched two flares to illuminate the dark night and assist their search. RNLI helmsman Mark Tucker said: ‘We spotted a man in a small rhib type boat next to a mooring buoy who we later learned had been alerted by a phone call saying that cries for help could be heard in the creek.The chap got into his boat and eventually located the casualty in the water where he was clinging to the buoy. Having found the man in the water the Good Samaritan hadn’t been able to get him out and so hung onto him until we arrived on the scene.’
As the lifeboat neared the scene crew member Kris White jumped into the water to support the casualty before getting him aboard the lifeboat with the support of his fellow RNLI crew members. Kris added: ‘It was a pitch black night and the water was extremely cold. The guy was in a bad way. He was so cold he looked blue. We think he had been in the water for two hours. He was lucky he’d been spotted and help came. I don’t know how much longer he could have held on if he’d been alone but the fact that he was wearing his lifejacket undoubtedly saved his life because apart from the extreme cold there was a very strong tide running which would have been impossible to swim against.’
‘This incident goes to show how quickly and unexpectedly things can go wrong, even in a sheltered creek. We’d urge everyone to carry a waterproof means of communication, whether that’s a radio, a mobile phone in a protective pouch or even flares, so that if they find themselves in a similar situation they can call for help.’
The casualty was taken to a nearby slipway where he was handed over to a waiting South East Coast Ambulance Service crew. It is not thought the man’s condition was life threatening.
The ILB crew had earlier been called at 5.55pm on Wednesday 18 May to assist in the recovery of a body found in the water at Strood Pier.