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.
Peel Ports have advised of replacement of an overhead power cable across the River Medway between Wouldham Marshes and Halling. The works will take place from around 6 to 27 August 2020. The safety boat ‘CRC Dart’ will stop vessels from passing when the cable pull is taking place.
HMRC is seeking information about the proposed changes to the rules surrounding the uses of red diesel. During the Budget the Chancellor shared plans for the intended removal of entitlement to use red diesel from April 2022, except for the agriculture sector (including forestry, horticulture and fish farming), railways, and where red diesel is used to power non-commercial heating systems, such as in homes, narrowboats and places of worship.
The consultation has now been launched by Government and seeks to gather evidence as to whether other sectors, including recreational boating, should be allowed to maintain use of the fuel beyond April 2022. The RYA’s case for retaining red diesel is about existing supply needs, not colour, tax status or price. Recreational boaters already pay the full rate of duty and VAT when purchasing fuel for the purposes of propulsion.
The RYA will therefore be looking at the proposals to reform the tax treatment of red diesel closely to see how this might affect the supply of fuel for recreational use for both propulsion and how it will impact supply for domestic usage such as heating. The further west and north you travel in the UK the more likely it is that you will have to rely on waterside outlets that only supply red diesel for commercial purposes, such as to fishing fleets. In many places, some remote, the limited quantities of fuel used by recreational craft do not warrant the cost of installing additional equipment to supply white diesel for the recreational boating sector.
If the Government removes the entitlement to use red diesel from most sectors from April 2022 and white diesel is consequently made as widely available as red diesel is now, then supply of fuel will not be affected. The RYA will be responding to this call for evidence and urges users of diesel propelled craft, particularly private pleasure craft, and those involved in the supply of fuel to UK craft to participate in the consultation.
To have your say on the future of red diesel please click here.
The consultation closes at 11.45pm on 1 October 2020.
To read more about the RYA’s lobbying developments with red diesel please click here. If you have any questions regarding red diesel or any other current affair issues please visit the Current Affairs page on the RYA website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peel Ports have published highly detailed charts of the River Medway from the Approach Channel to Rochester Bridge, plus the turning circle in Faversham Creek. The surveys date from 2018 to April 2020 and are mostly limited to the shipping channel.
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.
This rare lifting-keel Sadler 32 was seen on Greenborough Marsh, near Stangate Creek. Thanks to helpful members of the boating community, the owner was traced and informed. It appears that Allegretto became detached from her mooring in Gillingham Reach during a storm and drifted 4.5 miles eastwards. After heroic attempts by members of Segas Sailing Club the salvage operation was eventually left to the professionals and the boat is now ashore awaiting a survey.
Dave Metcalfe of Lower Halstow YC informs us that Kent Police now have a new RIB called “Invicta”, based at Sheerness. It’s a 10 metre Parker Baltic Cruiser with twin 350hp outboards, which should enable them to catch some nuisance jet skiers. It even has a cabin. Here’s a video of one they prepared earlier…
If you are in Sittingbourne on Wednesday evening 15 July, Raybel Charters invite you to witness history being made. Back in January, sailing ship Gallant left Trinidad on a voyage to collect sail cargo goods from Colombia and Portugal. Last Saturday she docked into St Katharine Dock in London and on Wednesday she will transfer goods onto the sailing barge Dawn at Queenborough. Dawn will be delivering to several Kent ports and on Wednesday night at about 8.45pm will be sending her barge boat (the big rowing boat that barges use) with a delivery to Lloyd Wharf at the head of Milton Creek. This will be the first cargo delivered by sail to Sittingbourne in perhaps 80 years.
Please join Raybel Charters on the wharf to welcome the first of what we hope will be regular event in Sittingbourne. Please note, we will be maintaining social distancing on the wharf and would ask you to do the same. The new Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum will be open in case of inclement weather.