Some excellent news from the Medway River Users Association: The Environment Agency has announced that the proposals from the Canals and Rivers Trust to take over the running and responsibility for the Medway, Thames and Anglia have been rejected. So for now the EA will continue to manage the navigation of the non-tidal Medway for the foreseeable future.
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.”
Our three local MPs show us how it should be done today at the Medway Watersports Trust Open Day: (left to right) Kelly Tolhurst, Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chishti. Kelly is Patron of the MSBA and Tracey is Sports Minister. Tracey unveiled a new mural by Sharmaine Kwan. To the left you can see the parlous state of Medway’s only public slipway, known as Commodore’s Hard. The MSBA is campaigning for better public acess to the river.
Emergency services were called out last night after the family of a 46-year-old Londoner reported him missing and an empty kayak was found by the inshore lifeboat drifting on the River Medway. A Coastguard spokesman said: “Despite an intensive search from Rochester to the Kingsnorth Power Station we have been unable to locate the missing kayaker.”
FURTHER UPDATE: The kayaker has been named as Dale Vivian, general manager of a company based on the Medway City Estate. A post portem revealed he died of natural causes.
Those of us who venture up to the non-tidal Medway will be relieved to learn that the long awaited toilet and shower block at Yalding is now open. The facilities block has been built with volunteer labour and materials donated by generous sponsors.
Pictured here is Medway River Users Association chairman Mark Smurthwaite and the Head of the EA at the opening ceremony. Pictures of what followed are too graphic to show…
Archaeologist Dr Paul Wilkinson was contacted by Dan Tester, who owns a boatyard at Oare Creek, believing it to be an Anglo Saxon boat. However, Dr Wilkinson revealed that the boat is an important find dating from the Bronze Age (2,500 – 800BC) and is “rare as hen’s teeth”. . Read more at Kent Online
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.
Please download the petition, print it, and get signatures from your club or organisation.
“We the undersigned call on Medway Council to improve access to the River Medway at the Strand in Gillingham. The condition of the slipway at the Strand, known as Commodore’s Hard, has deteriorated in recent years due to lack of maintenance. The edges of the slipway have broken away, making it increasingly difficult and dangerous to use. Until now it has been recognised as an excellent, all-tide access point and is well used by Medway Cruising Club, Medway Watersports, Rowing Clubs, Childrens Charities, Sea Scouts and individual residents. But we are in danger of completely losing this facility. The Council-owned access road leading up to Commodore’s Hard has also been neglected and is full of potholes which need attention. We urge Medway Council to help achieve its aim of “Making better use of the River Medway” by making permanent, extensive repairs to Commodore’s Hard and resurfacing the access road leading to it”
Trevor Peen hopes to submit the petition to the November council meeting. Please return the petition to Medway Watersports, Approach Road, The Strand, Gillingham, ME7 1TT