As part of the Cabinet reshuffle, the Prime Minister has appointed Kelly Tolhurst MP, a marine surveyor by trade, as the new Maritime Minister. Kelly is also the MP for Rochester and Strood. She is also Patron of the MSBA, having been a long standing committee member.
Kelly became a councillor for Medway Council in 2011 and worked to get a River Medway strategy in place to encourage economic development and improve leisure use to replace declining commercial activity. One success was the restoration of Sun Pier, which now provides boat access to Chatham, below Rochester Bridge. Kelly is a marine surveyor and a keen Dragon racing sailor on the Medway, when time permits.
British Marine’s press release notes Kelly’s concerns about the MMO’s burdensome procedures for dredging of moorings on the Medway and effects on the leisure marine sector. With Mark Garnier MP she has set up an All-Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) for marine leisure
Following Storm Dennis last weekend, this derelict yacht that has been on the Peel Ports moorings at Borstal is believed to have sunk along with the two buoys to which it was attached. The resident family of cormorants have now lost heir home. Mariners passing between Medway Towns Rowing Club and Medway Bridge Marina should take care especially at low water.
At 5pm on the wild afternoon of 15 February, during Storm Dennis, residents of St Mary’s Island spotted a naked man “sheltering in a tent” on a small rowing boat, anchored just a few metres from the shore. Apparently he was afraid to lift the anchor in case the dinghy was blown away in the extreme conditions. After a rescue operation involving the Coastguard, the RNLI all weather lifeboat, firefighters, police and ambulance crews, the man was brought ashore at 7.30pm.
The high-resolution live webcam was provided by the MSBA for monitoring antisocial behaviour and dangerous riding of personal watercraft (jetskis) at Gillingham Strand. Several webcams and live weather stations along with tidal information are accessible from our Weather page.
Network Rail have told us that, while work is being carried out to reinstate the power at Kingsferry Bridge, the bridge can only be lifted when there is a fitter on site, which is usually from 6am to 6pm Monday to Friday. Outside these hours, leisure craft will only be allowed through with commercial vessels. Because of the compromised state of the equipment at the bridge, the risk of failure is higher than normal. Failure would result in the closure of the bridge to trains, road vehicles and prevent it being lifted. If a fitter is on site, it can be reinstated quicker than if an on-call fitter must be called in.
Effectively then, Kingsferry Bridge will be out of action for the next three weekends and only available from 06:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday.
On Saturday, Lijia (“Lily”) Xu with her coach Jon Emmett conducted a boot camp and gave talks at Medway Yacht Club. Among her many achievements, Lily won a gold medal in the Laser Radial class at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where she was the flag bearer for China at the closing ceremony.
Sadly, the large sperm whale that had been seen in difficulty off Whitstable on 30 January subsequently died. The carcass was towed to a mooring in the Medway before being taken to Sheerness for an autopsy, which revealed that the unfortunate creature had not eaten for some time.
Following a recent report of the bridge operator refusing to lift for a yacht returning from Conyer to the Medway, the MSBA has sought clarification from Peel Ports. The bridge still has a problem with the main switch gear requiring a generator to be stationed on the A249 to enable lifts. Railtrack say they are “working hard” to source new parts to fix it, which is proving difficult. They have reduced the number of lifts to a minimum and are only allowing yachts through when there are shipping movements. We are told that commercial shipping takes priority.
UPDATE 6.2.2020: Network Rail expect to have the replacement switch gear in place within six weeks, possibly even sooner, so the emergency generator will no longer be needed. In the meantime boaters should check with the bridge operator on VHF channel 10, or Medway VTS on Channel 74, when the next bridge lift is expected to take place.