Cowes Harbour Commission
Harbour Authority & Marine Services
Newsletter 14th May 2020
Safe Return to Family Local Boating in Cowes
Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday evening, 10th May, Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) has been working closely with the British Ports Association and UK Harbour Masters Association with the aim of managing a co-ordinated and safe, phased return for recreational boating. 

I accept this aim has not been entirely successful due to some mixed messaging in the boating press and social media and understand the resulting frustration for some boat owners. CHC’s decisions and timeline have been governed by our Statutory Harbour role and responsibilities to take appropriate and considered decisions prioritising the safety of our staff, local boat owners and the local community. CHC only received the required Government guidelines for recreational boating last night.

The CHC Board of Commissioners agreed today our policy: “ To encourage and facilitate a controlled return to safe, family recreational boating, allowing boat owners to access their boats for day use to and from their local mooring and for maintenance purposes ”.

We have issued two Notices to Mariners today providing further guidance. I trust this E-newsletter provides you with further helpful information.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your patience and hope that you will support the approach of CHC, prioritising the safety of our staff, customers, harbour users and the local and Isle of Wight community.

I realise that this is a first small but important step back towards a more normal type of boating we all love.

Capt. Stuart McIntosh - Cowes Harbour Master
Government Guidance for Leisure Boating
The Government has issued additional information regarding recreational boating in England. The key areas of guidance are firstly, that marina operators are allowed to re-open but it is for the marina to consider when they are able to re-start their service, so do check with your marina or club before setting off. Secondly, boat users may take part in water-based activities as an individual, household group, or as a pair of two people from different households who are socially distancing (2m apart), and thirdly, that the guidance on staying at your primary residence applies, so no overnight visits or extended stays are allowed.

Please read Cowes Local Notice to Mariners No. 15(T) of 2020: COVID-19 - Government Guidelines for Recreational Boating for more details and links to further information and FAQs on marine leisure.

Whilst a partial return to boating is most welcome, CHC would like to encourage all Cowes Harbour boat users to take additional safety precautions when going out on the water and to remember the risks to rescue boats, whose crews cannot social distance should you find yourself in need of assistance. We therefore recommend that boat users consider the potential risks to third parties and strongly advise all skippers to take increased care and to consider in particular the condition of their boat, the prevailing weather conditions, and the experience of the crew.

CHC continues to maintain our ‘open port policy’ and our normal harbour patrols will provide guidance, assistance and where required policing of Cowes Harbour General Directions.
CHC Facilitates Safe Return to Family Local Boating
Cowes Harbour Commission supports the Government’s guidance on marine leisure activities and has agreed a policy to encourage and facilitate safe family local boating. This will include assisting with the provision of access to customer pontoon berths and moorings, and facilitating safe family recreational boating from an owner’s mooring back to an owner’s mooring, within a day and with no overnighting.

CHC’s facilities and services will be operating with additional control measures designed to protect both staff and the public from exposure to and transmission of the COVID-19 virus. It is vital that everyone respects the measures, including social distancing and hygiene.

Shepards Marina: The marina will reopen on Saturday, 16th May. Shepards Marina will be used to facilitate family local boating and will therefore not be able to provide any visitor moorings in this initial phase of opening. Additionally, CHC will consult our dayboat and dry sailing customers and provide a service within the new guidelines.

Harbour water taxis: From Monday, 18th May CHC will look to provide a harbour taxi service for CHC’s moorings north of the commercial wharves in Whitegates and the main harbour areas. CHC’s taxi contractor Cowes Water Taxis will provide the service south of the commercial wharves to the Folly. Both taxi services will operate under the same conditions, whereby a maximum of two people from one boat can be transported at any one time, for a standard charge of £10 return. It is a requirement that face masks must be worn by all passengers. The Cowes Water Taxi service is by booking only via phone. The CHC Cowes Harbour Taxi service must be pre-booked and paid for in advance. 

Cowes Harbour Services
CHC will open the Boatyard at Kingston Wharf from Monday, 18th May, and from then on the Boatyard will be open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, from 0900 to 1630. Lifting and launching will also commence again; please contact the Boatyard for all enquiries.

The Fuel Berth will reopen on Monday, 18th May providing a daily service but with reduced hours from 1000 to 1400.