Early morning rescue at Rochester CC

Known to many on the river, Chris Murr spends time on his boat at Rochester Cruising Club. While on deck on Friday morning 25 August about 5am, he thought he saw a seal making a weird noise. He shone his torch and noticed hands, then realised it was someone in the water.

He couldn’t get to them at first so called the Coastguard. Quick thinking, he noticed a dinghy half full of water so got in that while on the phone to the Coastguard and rowed out to the person, who was under the water by this time and saved their life by pulling them into the boat.

The coastguard and police attended the scene. One less tragedy in the river, we’re all proud of you Chris.

Admiral’s Cruise, 1 & 2 July 2023

The Mayor of Medway (previously Rochester) has been officially the Admiral of the River since ancient times. After a couple of years’ break for Covid, the Admiral’s annual cruise organised by Rochester Cruising Club (est 1905) in conjunction with Medway Council (est 1998) and the Rochester Oyster & Floating Fishery (est 1729) will resume over the weekend of 1st and 2nd July. The beating of the bounds is to confirm the existence of ROFF and will involve a cruise up river on the Saturday to the southern boundary of their jurisdiction at the Hawkwood Stone and quite possibly meeting up with the Mayors of Maidstone and Tonbridge & Malling on their cruise down river from the non-tidal Medway. Our little flotilla will then return to Rochester for refreshments and celebrations in the clubhouse.

On the Sunday , the cruise will head downstream from Rochester for a wreath laying ceremony at HMS Bulwark, with the Sea Cadets and a piper playing a lament, before heading into the Swale for a lunchtime stop at Queenborough Harbour.

The river will be busy. It would appear that Medway YC have a dinghy regatta for the Kent Schools Sailing Association on the Sunday as well. We hope to be joined by Peel Ports harbourmaster’s launch, the RNLI, Medway Towns Sea Cadets, the Maritime Volunteer Service, City of London Port Health Authority and we may even get a water spray salute by one of the Svitzer fire tugs based at Sheerness. The historic tug Kent will be going into Stangate to provide a mooring for those unable to go into Queenborough due to limited availability of moorings. On departing Queenborough those taking part in the cruise will be returning to Rochester to take part in a sunset ceremony, again with the piper. Hopefully we will have at least thirty vessels taking part and the weather forecast is even looking good.

All participants have been asked to avoid the exclusion zone near the gas terminal. Peel Ports will get very grumpy indeed with transgressors, you have been warned.

As the convoy passes each club or marina our gunner and bugler will sound a salute on behalf of the Admiral. If your club or marina is on the route between the Hawkwood Stone and Sheerness you should have received a letter by email inviting you to receive and return a salute. If you haven’t received this please let us know by email to info@msba.org.uk.

Thanks to Fred Trice for the above. You can find an article by Fred about the 2018 Admiral’s Cruise here.

MSBA talk: Dick Holness, East Coast Pilot, Fri 10 March (Updated)

Rochester Cruising Club will be hosting the last of our winter series of evening talks. Dick Holness, co-author of the popular East Coast Pilot, will be intriguing us with the wrinkles of exploring and navigating the East Coast. We hope he will also be giving tips for anyone venturing up the Thames to London.

The club will be open at 7pm for those who want to eat. A special MSBA menu starting at £6.50 (sausage egg and chips or ham egg and chips) will be available plus other options (eg curry £8.50 or fish and chips £9.50). Please let us know (email info@msba.org.uk) if you want to pre-order a meal.

The talk will start at 8pm and there will be a charge of £3 for non RCC members.

Rochester Cruising Club is easy to find on the Esplanade at the foot of Rochester Castle, postcode ME1 1QN. There is ample parking at the club and on the road outside.

Sustainable Boating, talk by Bowman Bradley, 26 Jan at Strood YC

Thursday 26th January 2023: 7.30 for 8.00pm
Strood Yacht Club, Knight Road, Strood. ME2 2AH
Bowman Bradley, Chair of the Inland Waterway Association’s Sustainable Boating Group.

Bowman will talk about the work of the group, their vision of how inland waterways boating might be made sustainable in the future, how that vision has developed over the last two years and the intended work of the group going forward. Bowman will be interested in the views of members as to how they might contribute towards the vision and any suggestions they might have as to what the group might look at in the future.

Bowman is a retired mechanical engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He has been a ‘canaller’ since the mid 1970’s and a narrowboat owner since 2005. Other members of the Sustainable Boating Group own a variety of canal craft ranging from historic narrowboats through ‘conventional’ diesel powered leisure craft to a state-of-the-art electric narrowboat.

Entry is free with a raffle to cover costs. All IWAKES events are open to non-members and you are encouraged to bring friends. Similarly, if you know a local club or society that might be interested, please do tell them.

Bad news for EU VAT paid vessels

UK residents and the UK Marine Industry have been delivered devastating news by HMRC at a meeting recently held on 14 December 2022.  The industry bodies that participated in this discussion included: the Association of Yacht Brokers and Agents (ABYA), Royal Yachting Association, British Marine, the Cruising Association, as well as other key VAT marine industry specialists.

During the meeting, HMRC Representatives confirmed that the Financial Secretary to Treasury, Victoria Atkins MP, has refused to make changes to the current HMRC policy which would allow UK residents who purchased VAT paid vessels in the EU prior to the end of the BREXIT Transitional Period, i.e. 31 December 2020, to bring those vessels back to the UK, without being charged VAT again.

ABYA, along with other industry bodies, have been lobbying HMRC for the past three years for important and fair changes.  This plight became more rigorous over the past two years since it was announced, just two weeks before BREXIT, that grandfather rights allowing people to return their boats without being charged VAT again, were withdrawn. All despite promises made by HMRC previously, that they would be in place.

ABYA Chairman, Peter Norris said “The announcement today will have a significant financial impact on UK boat owning residents, as well as the UK marine industry, which is already suffering from increased costs and a shortage of product within the UK market place.  The decision by the Minister seems not to be aligned with Government policy as stated by the Prime Minster and his Chancellor, to try and grow the economy. Had these vessels been allowed to return, they would have invested money in the UK marine industry on services and berthing, which ultimately would have generated additional VAT income as well as additional corporation tax.”

When challenged at the meeting, HMRC refused to provide any information on how this impactful decision was reached, as well as what the Ministers reasons for refusing to implement the requested changes to the HMRC policy were.

ABYA, through its contacts at HMRC, have been calling for an urgent meeting with the Minster since her appointment in October 2022.  To-date, all have been blocked. All of the industry bodies present at the meeting, called for an urgent face-to-face meeting with the Minister, to discuss her decision and to seek an amicable way forward. 

ABYA Chairman, Peter Norris said “We need to explain to our Yacht Brokering members, both in the UK and Europe, what the justification behind the Minsters decision is, because they will need to articulately explain her reasons to our UK customers.  If the Minster refuses to discuss the rationale for her decision in a face-to-face meeting, then we, along with all the other industry bodies, will have no choice but to appeal through a freedom of information request, that we be given access to all of the documentation submitted to the Minster, as well as the minutes of the meetings held.  This will be followed by us then petitioning industry Ministers to seek the rational for her decision at the next available Treasury question time.”

HMRC Representatives at the meeting have agreed to provide feedback to the Minister that outlines the level of betrayal and frustration felt by all of the marine industry bodies in attendance.

Peter Norris Fellow ABYA,

ABYA Chairman  


Delay in VAT changes on yachts returning from Europe

The Association of Yacht Brokers and Agents (ABYA) has been lobbying HMRC for the past eighteen months to make changes to the existing Return Goods Relief (RGR) scheme. The new changes would enable anyone who purchased a vessel, pre 31st December 2020 based in Europe, on which they have evidence that UK/EU VAT has been paid, to return the vessel to the UK under the Return Goods Relief scheme without having to pay VAT again.


Maidstone River Festival raft race, 30 July

EA Notice to Mariners – The Maidstone River Festival is taking place on Saturday 30 July 2022.
As well as a high number of vessels in the Maidstone area. There will be a raft race running between 2:30pm and 3:30pm, from the High-Level Railway Bridge and Maidstone Bridge (by Thai Orchid).
For safety reasons, we ask that boats remain on their moorings or give way. Please do not try to navigate through the raft race. There will be a safety boat and stewards at the front and rear of the race, but it is very likely that participants will be in the water at some point during the race!

Better news from Dover Marina


We recently advised that some important works had to be undertaken during the 2022 summer season in order to enable the new marina and boatyard to fully open in 2023, and that this regrettably meant the temporary closure of Dover Marina to new customers and visitors during a three-month period from mid-May. Following better than anticipated progress and excellent cooperation from our existing berth holders, we have been able to review our temporary closure decision and Dover Marina is very pleased to report that we will now be able to offer limited availability of berths for visitors throughout the summer, commencing 4th July.

In order to effectively manage our limited capacity, anyone considering a visit to Dover Marina must email or telephone the Marina Office to secure an available berth before sailing to Dover.

Contact details for the Marina Office are as follows:
Email: marina@doverport.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0) 1304 241 663

We now very much look forward to seeing some visitors to Dover over the next few months ahead of many more arriving in 2023 when we will be fully open and operational

Maidstone Mayor’s Court of Survey, Sat 11 June

Swan being “upped” at last year’s event

This curious local event, organised by Hampstead and Yalding Cruising Club, reminds us that the swans on the Medway belong to the Mayor of Maidstone, not the Queen as elsewhere. The Mayor of Maidstone is carried on a flotilla down the river to the Hawkwood stone (halfway to Rochester) then back to Wateringbury where some swans will be checked and tagged by the Swanmaster.

If you would like to join a flotilla of motor cruisers from Rochester to meet the Mayor’s boats at the Hawkwood Stone, please contact info@msba.org.uk