New MSBA Visitor Charts and Official Tide Tables

The MSBA has published a third edition of the Medway and Swale Visitor Charts. This time Gavin had the brainwave of including visitor moorings, slipways and fuel berths in addition to general updating.

What’s more, Peel Ports London Medway (yes really) have just published Official 2020 Tide Tables for Sheerness and Chatham. Print them off and don’t forget to add an hour for BST come next summer.

Find these and other useful free stuff on our Downloads Page

Chatham Docks to close in 2025

As long suspected, Peel Land & Property have revealed that Chatham Docks will close in 2025 for redevelopment into housing, retail, tourism and leisure. Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst has expressed concern at the potential loss of up to 800 jobs at the docks that have been the centre of Chatham’s economic activity for hundreds of years. Peel have not yet responded to the MP’s request for a meeting.  The privately-owned Peel Group makes no secret that their business is primarily about highly profitable property development at the many old docks and harbours that they have acquired. Dave Harris of Medway Council is reported to have said, “It is a landowner’s decision as to whether existing use of a site continues and the local authority has no control over this.”

Kingsferry Bridge Closures, Oct 2019

Network Rail have informed Peel Ports Medway that, due to essential maintenance, the Kingsferry Bridge will be inoperative and unable to be lifted on the following dates and times: 21:00 07/10/19 – 00:30 08/10/19 • 21:00 08/10/19 – 00:30 09/10/19 • 21:00 09/10/19 – 00:30 10/10/19 • 21:00 21/10/19 – 00:30 22/10/19 • 21:00 22/10/19 – 00:30 23/10/19 • 21:00 23/10/19 – 00:30 24/10/19. Admiralty Chart Numbers 2482 & 2572 refer. Further information may be obtained from Medway VTS on VHF Channel 74, call sign “Medway VTS” or telephone 0151 949 6148 or 0151 949 6650

Wouldham/Halling Overhead Cable Works

Overhead works are scheduled to begin on or around 23 September 2019 across the River Medway between Wouldham Marshes and Halling, and will involve the replacement of an overhead power cable. River traffic will be monitored by a safety boat which will be on site whilst the cable pull takes place. Communications relevant to the works should be directed at the safety boat or Medway VTS on VHF Channel 74.

UPDATE 20 Sept: The work is now expected to be completed on or around 18 October. (Peel Ports Notice to Mariners No 25 of 2019)

High and dry on Nor Marsh

Drone photo by Gavin Parson.

This cabin cruiser has been high and dry on Nor Marsh for at least a month. The Sheerness inshore lifeboat was called out by the Coastguard on 27 July to investigate but there was no-one aboard. As the boat was a metre above the high water mark it must have already been there for some days.  Please let us know if you know anything about this vessel and we’ll pass the information on. Email info@msba.org.uk

Gridlink project begins at Kingsnorth

Photo by Wil Pretty.

If you’ve seen the big yellow jack-up rig in the Medway at Kingsnorth you may have wondered what’s going on. The rig is for probing the river bed prior to laying of a massive electrical cable. The GridLink Interconnector Project is a 1,400 MW high voltage electricity cable that will provide a link between the national grids of the UK and France.

The cable connects the National Grid 400 kV sub-station at Kingsnorth to the RTE 400 kV sub-station near Dunkerque, France. The converter stations change the high voltage direct current to alternating current and adjust the voltage to 400 kV for the connection to the sub -stations. The cable route passes through the Medway Estuary and Thames Estuary, before turning south-east to cross the southern North Sea to the French coast.

Blackstakes buoy gone for good

The cylindrical yellow buoy on the south side of Saltpan Reach has again been removed by Peel Ports without notice, this time permanently. The Blackstakes buoy was a racing mark, located to keep boats well away from the LNG Terminal, as we are constantly exhorted to do by Peel Ports. As in 2016, the unexpected removal of the buoy has caused unnecessary inconvenience to clubs which race in the Medway estuary. Enquiries by Medway YC and the MSBA elicited the response from Peel Ports that the buoy was considered “not commercially viable” and today a notice to mariners was belatedly issued. The two adjacent commercial mooring buoys (Saltpan Nos. 8 and 9) have been given a fresh coat of yellow paint (see photo) but this does not mean they are a replacement for Blackstakes. There has been no explanation of why the clubs were not notified in advance of the buoy’s removal.

Blackstakes has gone. Don’t use these nearby yellow mooring buoys as a replacement.

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.”

Beware of sunken barge at Lower Halstow

Peel Ports advise that the floating dock/converted barge Westmoreland, that has been moored between two large yellow mooring buoys to the north of the Lower Halstow Yacht Club moorings, has sunk. It is still made fast to the two yellow marker buoys fore and aft but is covered at high water. The centre of the barge between the two yellow buoys is marked by floating pellet buoys. Mariners should navigate with caution due to this submerged danger to navigation. Approximate position 51 23.00N 000 40.60E. The owner is aware and will be dealing with the situation.

Garrison Point traffic warning light reinstated

Peel Ports have issued a notice that the flashing white warning light on top of Garrison Point for big ships going in or out of the Medway is now working again.

The Traffic Warning Light is positioned to assist vessels in complying with General Direction No. 10, Navigation of Vessels of more Than 130 Metres length Overall Between Sunset and Sunrise and in Restricted Visibility. The Traffic Warning Light is a white light that flashes every seven seconds and is normally exhibited by day and by night as follows;
• When an inward bound vessel of more than 130 metres Length Overall is underway in the buoyed channel between the Medway Buoy and Darnett Ness the lights are exhibited in an upriver direction.
• When an outward bound vessel of more than 130 metres Length Overall is underway in the buoyed channel between Darnett Ness and the Medway Buoy the lights are exhibited in a seaward direction.
Further information may be obtained from Medway VTS on VHF Channel 74, call sign “Medway VTS” or telephone 0151 949 6148 or 0151 949 6650.