Why use a helicopter rather than a hovercraft?

Gavin Parson writes: Last night a rescue helicopter plucked a person from a dinghy stuck on the mud outside Gillingham Marina. Mark Colyer who keeps his hovercraft at the marina witnessed this complete waste of money and resources and subsequently went out in his hovercraft to recover the dinghy.  The whole rescue could have been done in minutes and for £2 in fuel with the hovercraft rather than the thousands it no doubt cost for the helicopter. Perhaps there is now a validation for a volunteer rescue hovercraft service on the Medway.

New signage for PWCs

This is a sample of one of the new signs designed in partnership with the Personal Watercraft Partnership (PWP) and local authorities. The signs will be set up at known launching sites for jet skis (PWCs). Most PWC users are responsible boaters but an irresponsible minority spoil it for everyone else and will be liable to prosecution. Peel Ports will increase the number of patrols using a harbour launch or RIB, including holidays, weekends, and during heatwaves. The patrol personnel will be equipped with body cams.

Speed limits

This chart shows the zones where there are speed limits, yellow for 6 knots and red for 8 knots. The purple zone from Cuxton to Wouldham is where members of the Kent Boat and Ski club have exclusive permission to water ski.

Peel Ports gets tough on dangerous boaters

Peel Ports have issued the following statement: “On the 26th of April 2020 a water craft collided with another vessel causing it to sink and causing serious injury to one of the occupants. Police attended the scene and the defendant was breathalysed and found to have a levels of alcohol in his system exceeding the amount permissible for driving a vehicle on the road, resulting in his arrest. The injured party maintained that the defendant had been performing ‘doughnut’ turns around her vessel but had lost control of his vessel causing it to collide with hers.

“The Port of Sheerness Ltd brought prosecution proceedings against the defendant pursuant to the Port Byelaws alleging that the defendant had failed to navigate his vessel with the requisite level of care and that he had been in charge of his vessel whilst unfit by reason of drink, contrary to byelaws 22 and 33 respectively. The defendant was summoned to appear before magistrates sitting at Medway on the 10th of December 2020. At this hearing the defendant pleaded guilty to both allegations and was ordered to pay fines, compensation and costs totalling £3,950.”

UPDATE: The “water craft” referred to in the Peel Ports Notice was a small motor cruiser, not a PWC (jet ski). The other vessel was a dinghy.

IMPORTANT: LNG Vessel Transit and Manoeuvres

Peel Ports have asked us to notify boaters that a recent near miss incident involving a small fishing boat and an LNG vessel has highlighted an issue surrounding the movement of such ships and the proximity of small boats. LNG vessel movements are extremely sensitive for a number of reasons; the size of the vessel, the level of tug assistance required, the complexity of the berthing/unberthing manoeuvre and the very nature of the cargo they carry. When an LNG ship is transiting the River Medway or in the process of manoeuvring on/off the berth at Isle of Grain all vessels are required to keep well clear and maintain a safe distance.

The chart above shows the potential turning circle of an LNG ship and indicates the amount of sea room that needs to be kept clear for the turning manoeuvre. The area highlighted may alter depending on the size of the vessel and if the adjacent LNG berth is occupied by another ship, however, the zone marked is based on the largest LNG vessels expected (345m). When the ship is fast alongside the established LNG berth exclusion zone and associated rules apply to all craft as per Medway NtoM 02 of 2020.

RYA confirms boating is permitted, but…

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

Read the full article…

LNG Terminal Exclusion Zones

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.

Montgomery explosion could be even worse than Beirut

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.

Hovercraft rescues yachtsman

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.

Danger of getting close to ships

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.