Monty to lose masts by June 2022

Photo Margaret Flo McEwan, Maunsell Forts Appreciation Group

The Royal Navy has been brought in to help Briggs Marine with their £5m contract to remove the SS Richard Montgomery’s corroded masts after surveys warned that they could collapse onto the fragile deck and set off the 1400 tons (TNT equivalent) of explosives remaining on board.

Please note there have been many seriously inaccurate reports of this project, even in the quality press. The ship itself is not being touched, just the masts. However these have become a sight to see and their loss will affect the local tourism trade.

More information…

Weather, Tides and Webcams updated for 2022

Happy New Year! Click “Weather” on the menu to see our updated weather, tides and webcam links. This now has 2022 tide tables from the PLA and Peel Ports (Sheerness and Chatham). You can also check real time tides, wind and weather at each of several stations in the Medway from the approach channel to Strood. Also we now include a link to the superb weather station and webcam (updated every 10 minutes) at Lower Halstow Yacht Club.

Do you have any old photos of the islands, marshes or piers?

Medway Council is in the process of creating a River Strategy which, once completed, will be instrumental in helping to address river user needs, monitor pollution, coastal erosion and secure future funding to protect and enhance river access locations and plan ecological improvements such as salt marsh preservation and creation. To help us understand the changing nature of the estuary and visual history of the river, we are seeking old photos of the following:

  • St Mary’s Island
  • Darnet Island
  • Hoo Salt Marsh
  • St Mary’s Island
  • Oakham Marsh
  • Burntwick Island
  • Greenborough Marsh
  • Rochester Pier
  • Sun Pier
  • Gillingham Pier

If you have any photos of these sites we would be very grateful if you could scan and send them to adam.taylor@medway.gov.uk or alternatively photos can be collected from your address, copies made and then returned to you.

This is a unique opportunity for river users to make the first contributions to the River Strategy. For any photos we use we will credit the person who provided them.

In the meantime, here are two photos: the farmhouse which once stood on Nor Marsh, taken in 1932, and Sun Pier taken in the 1960s, which we hope are of interest to MSBA members.

We look forward to hearing you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

Adam Taylor, Rivers & Paths Manager

CA talk: Thanet and Kentish Flats Wind Farms, Thu 11 March, 7pm

The Cruising Association Kent Section’s popular “winter warmer” talks, organised by Clifford Mickleburgh, have not stopped for Covid. All of us, CA member or not, can enjoy them online. 

A team from Vattenfall Wind Power Limited will talk about the Thanet and Kentish Flats Wind Farms, how the wind farms are operated and maintained, and the role of the marine co-ordinator.  The talk will also explore green hydrogen, the fuel of the future, and its co-location with wind farms.

Melanie Rogers is the Local Vattenfall Liaison Officer for the Kent region. Throughout the year, she leads the local outreach and engagement programme. She is also a regular speaker to local groups and organisations to give them the opportunity to learn more about renewable energy and their local projects.

Powering UK homes Since the first Kent wind farm – Kentish Flats – was built a decade ago, offshore wind has become an affordable, reliable and vital part of the UK energy system. By 2030, 30GW of offshore wind is expected to be installed in the UK. Vattenfall could power more than 4 million UK homes.

Medway real-time tide info

Here’s what we’ve all been waiting for! Paul Cozens of Peel Ports has kindly given us the link to their site which gives real time tidal heights and differences over prediction (ie surge) plus wind for Tripod, Sheerness, Chatham and Strood. Here’s the link:

https://peelports.port-log.net/live/Display.php?Cluster=Medway

You can drill down for detailed tide times etc by clicking on the tide station of interest. Note the big tidal surge that occurred a week ago:

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.

Have your say on the future of red diesel

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 cruising@rya.org.uk

Kelly Tolhurst is new Maritime Minister

Kelly Tolhurst MP.

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