The RYA has published its understanding of the current restrictions in England that apply for 4 weeks until 2 December:
Recreational boating from a public outdoor space for single households and support bubbles or with one other person (with social distancing) is currently permitted
Public waterways and beaches will remain open during the lockdown
Outdoor sports centres and amenities (which includes sailing clubs and watersports centres) will have to close
Members may be able to access boats for essential checks and maintenance, however, this will need to be agreed with their club/marina/harbour authority, with individuals taking personal responsibility for meeting Government guidance
University sport will not be taking place
School sport will be happening but only as part of organised school activity
Some charities may be able to continue aspects of their work
There are continuing exemptions for elite athletes for them to train or compete, so the British Sailing Team programme can continue
No overnight stays are allowed on boats except for residential berth holders (where the boat is their Primary Residence) or for business purposes
Peel Ports have issued a reminder to observe the exclusion zones in relation to the Isle of Grain LNG Terminal Jetties in Saltpan Reach. Infringement of the exclusion zones may result in prosecution:
1. When there is no LNG vessel berthed at the LNG Terminal no vessel (including pleasure vessels, PWC’s, fishing boats etc.) shall navigate within that part of the River Medway which is within an arc measuring 150 metres in any direction from the cargo transfer arms at the LNG Terminals. The cargo transfer arms are located at the following approximate position: Terminal No.10 51° 25.9405’N 00° 42.5448’E Terminal No.8 51° 25.9309’N 00° 42.1760’E
2. When there is an LNG vessel moored at the LNG Terminal no vessel (including pleasure vessels, PWC’s, fishing boats etc.) other than those attending the LNG terminal which are authorised by the Harbour Master or the operator of the LNG Terminal, shall enter any part of the River Medway which is within an arc measuring 250 metres (berth exclusion zone) in any direction from the cargo transfer arms of the LNG Terminal.
3. When there is an LNG vessel moored at the LNG terminal, the speed of all passing vessels navigating outside of the berth exclusion zone should not exceed 7.5 knots through the water whilst transiting.
While we’ve all been horrified by the massive explosion that devastated Beirut, Tim Bell from Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club says that we have an even bigger disaster waiting to happen right on our doorstep.
On the wreck of the Richard Montgomery, just off Sheerness, there remain 3632 tons of ordnance, the equivalent of about 1400 tons of TNT. The 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate responsible for the Beirut explosion was as effective as about 1000 tons of TNT. This means that the wreck has considerably more explosive power than the dreadful explosion in Lebanon. It is also thought not all of the 2750 tons actually exploded.
Tim predicts that if one of the bombs from the Montgomery were to end up in the Medway Approach Channel, just yards away, where LNG tankers pass by with little water under their keels, the result could be horrific. He has proposed that the wreck should have a fog horn or a virtual AIS aid to navigation.
Former MSBA Secretary, Gavin Parson, was trying out his new hovercraft when he heard a Mayday call on his VHF radio from a yachtsman who was taken ill. Gavin said, “the coastguard on channel 16 showed complete lack of local knowledge and was badgering the guy, who was clearly suffering, for a Lat and Long when he’d already given a clear description of his location. Also, the ambulance operator didn’t know where the Strand was and asked for postcode.” As you can see in the video, Gavin took the gentleman on board his hovercraft and quickly delivered him to the waiting ambulance in a way that would not have been possible with any other craft.
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.
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.
Local “ditch crawler” Nick Ardley has expressed anger at the two dozen boats anchored overnight in Stangate Creek at the bank holiday weekend and has written to Kelly Tolhurst, the Shipping Minister and MSBA Patron. He points out that the current law is clear that we must all return to our homes overnight and not stay in caravans, second home or boats. He concedes that, while being in a boat is a perfect way to self isolate, the law is clear. The RYA has published a guide to help us understand how it applies to boating:
The Ministry of Defence is offering £5 million to have the masts removed from the wreck of the Richard Montgomery, an American liberty ship that broke her back and sank off Sheerness in August 1944, with 1400 tons (net explosive quantity of TNT) of explosives still on board. Tim Bell from Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club said, “I can see the sense in cutting the masts down because they are starting to collapse and rust and could fall onto the deck below where there are still 2,000 cases of cluster bombs.” More at KentOnline. Also see Tim Bell’s reply to this article. And the BBC website…