CHC March 2013 lftCHC March 2013 rt

Moving with the times

We are about to start the 2013 season with a whole new set of suitably modern harbour regulations as the General Directions, which are being introduced on 2 April, will supersede the existing Cowes Harbour Byelaws. You can find out about this important step forward in our newsletter here and on the CHC website.

Thank you for all your positive feedback on the introduction of the new small craft channel last year. As you will see, we are adding some additional navigational marks to improve visibility of the channel when approaching from the east. But, remember to note the tidal restrictions and advice on when to use the small craft channel or when to go in the main channel.


Our CHC moorings team has been very busy reinstating the small craft moorings for Cowes Harbour, a good indication that the sailing season is really about to get underway.


The new Cowes Port Handbook is out this week with distribution already started, and for the first time we are also providing copies to several mainland yacht clubs. This is good news and should help to encourage more visiting yachtsmen to Cowes during the year.


Let's not forget that the clocks go forward an hour on Sunday, 31 March (Easter Day), giving us lighter evenings and more opportunities to enjoy getting out on the water. I am ever hopeful that 'British Summer Time' will bring plenty of warm weather and fair sailing winds!


Finally, I'd like to wish you all a very enjoyable Easter weekend and good season ahead.


Best regards,

blue sig

Captain Stuart McIntosh,

Cowes Harbour Master


Navigational updates

We would like to highlight several important navigational updates that have just been issued for Cowes Harbour.


Please see the CHC Local Notices to Mariners (LNTMs) section below, where you will find links to Notices regarding: "Cowes Roads and Main Harbour Moorings Areas - Restricted Areas", the "Approaches to Cowes Harbour", the "Small Craft Channel", "Use of Engines by Sailing Vessels", "Navigation within the Cowes Harbour Fairway", and "New Cowes General Directions Come into Force".


Bathymetric survey

CHC will be conducting a full bathymetric survey of Cowes Harbour in April. Bathymetry is the underwater equivalent to topography - a hydrographic survey that measures the depth of the water and determines the shape of the seabed.


A full bathymetric survey is conducted every three years in Cowes Harbour to check the current depths against those charted. The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) are supplied with the results of the survey and if there are any areas that have reduced in depth CHC will issue a Local Notice to Mariners. If the depth is unlikely to be brought back to current charted information, then the UKHO will issue a chart correction.


The River Medina shows a general accretionary trend over the intertidal mud south of the Chain Ferry but these rates of change are very small, being measured in millimetres per year. Fortunately, the main fairway below the Low Water mark is generally self-scouring due to the relatively strong ebb tide which means that the charted depths are usually maintained naturally.


100 years of flight in East Cowes

If you had been sitting on your boat at Folly Reach one hundred years ago, your tranquillity would have been shattered by the noise of an aero-engine.

The Sopwith designed Bat-Boat


In 1909, Sam Saunders had started a firm to "build everything required for aero-navigation". He had been experimenting with hydro-planes that skimmed along on the water with aerial propellers, and in 1912 had been asked by T.O.M. (Thomas Octave Murdoch) Sopwith to build the hull for an experimental flying boat. Sopwith wanted the same strength and shape of the speed boat Maple Leaf IV, built by Saunders using Consuta sewn plywood. Sopwith had successfully won the Harmsworth Trophy with Maple Leaf IV in America in 1912.


The Sopwith designed Bat-Boat was launched from Sam Saunders' aero-hydroplane sheds to carry out trials. These sheds were to the south of the Folly Inn at East Cowes. Eventually the Bat-Boat planed down the river achieving 60mph and out into the Solent to try taking off, without much success whilst piloted by Harry Hawker. So T.O.M. Sopwith had a go, and got it into the air. However, it had rather a bumpy landing, damaging the hull when it landed back at the Folly...


Contributed by Sarah Burdett.


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Alternatively, anyone can just scan the above QR code with their smart phone to register for CHC E-newsletters. 

Please keep in touch!

Cowes Harbour Commission is always happy to gain feedback on its services and on the issues it is tackling on behalf of all harbour users and stakeholders. If you would like to talk to the Harbour Master, Capt. Stuart McIntosh or to Rod Hodgson, the Deputy Harbour Master, please feel free to call into the Harbour Office on Town Quay, phone and make an appointment on:
01983 293952, or

CHC also owns and operates the following commercial services: Shepards Wharf Marina, Kingston Marine Services & Boatyard, Cowes Harbour Moorings, and Cowes Harbour Fuels. 

You can keep up-to-date with all CHC news on our website:

CHC Local Notices to Mariners (LNTMs)

Sailors and boaters using Cowes Harbour are advised to regularly check current Notices to Mariners.

Links to recent LNTMs:

No. 15 of 2013: New Cowes General Directions Come into Force on the 2nd of April 2013

No. 14 of 2013: Navigation within the Cowes Harbour Fairway

No. 13 of 2013: Use of Engines by Sailing Vessels in the Inner and Outer Fairways

No. 12 of 2013: Small Craft Channel

No. 11 of 2013: Approaches to Cowes Harbour

No. 10 of 2013: Cowes Roads and Main Harbour Areas Restricted Areas

No. 9(T) of 2013: Dredging Operations at East Cowes Marina Completed

No. 8(T) of 2013: The Two Sets of Two Fixed Red Lights in a Vertical Line at the Northern End of East Cowes Marina's 'A' & 'E' Pontoons are Extinguished Until Further Notice

No. 6(T) of 2013: No. 8 Port-Hand Lateral Buoy Unlit Until Further Notice

No. 2 of 2013: Small Craft Channel Lights are Unreliable

No. 1 of 2013: Current Notices to Mariners in Force

All current Notices are available on the CHC website.
Above: Shepards Wharf Marina - "Double Diamond" goes back in the water for the 2013 season.
New regulations for Cowes Harbour 

New rules for managing Cowes Harbour will be introduced on 2 April 2013 after being ratified by Cowes Harbour Commission. These powers of 'General Directions' are a key part of a modernising agenda which aims to ensure that Cowes Harbour can continue to thrive and develop as a world class centre for yachting.

Cowes Harbour Master, Capt. Stuart McIntosh, said: "The new General Directions are a significant change to the regulations that govern the harbour. Many of our existing harbour byelaws are no longer 'fit for purpose' and some still relate to a bygone era including such matters as regulating the landing of gunpowder on the quayside and the boiling of tar and pitch on vessels! They are simply not relevant to the safe and efficient management of a modern harbour.


"These new powers to issue General Directions have been brought forward after extensive consultation with our stakeholders and I am delighted that we can now look to the future supported by 21st century regulations which are fit for purpose."


All the General Directions will come into effect on 2 April, apart from the proposed rules for the Chain Ferry and a speed reduction in the River Medina. Consultation remains ongoing with respect to the new rules governing the operation of the Chain Ferry. The proposed change to reduce the speed limit south of Kingston Power Station to 4 knots will not be introduced as a result of feedback from local businesses and river users.


More details on the new General Directions can be found at:


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Ben Willows takes the Chair at CHAC

Chief Operating Officer at UKSA, Ben Willows has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Cowes Harbour Commission Advisory Committee (CHAC), which represents all stakeholders and harbour users in Cowes and East Cowes. One of his first tasks will be to assist with the recruitment of a new Commissioner next month by representing CHAC on the new Commissioner appointment panel.


Cowes Harbour Commission's Advisory Committee is an important conduit for communication between stakeholders and the Commissioners. Ben, who represents the Cowes Sailing Schools on CHAC said: "My core interest is to ensure that Cowes Harbour Commission and CHAC work collaboratively so that communication is effective and the harbour and river remain a cooperative and user friendly environment for all."


He continued: "The relationship between CHC and the stakeholder groups within the local area is of special interest to me as it links very closely to my role at UKSA, and is of real importance to me personally as a member of the Cowes community, keen sailor and river user."


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Update on proposed Cowes Breakwater

Cowes Harbour Commission is pleased to report that the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has agreed to provide funding for the final ground investigation works required to tender the Cowes Breakwater Project to the construction companies.

Meanwhile, the HCA's National Executive Committee has recently deferred the decision on breakwater funding requesting further supporting information. Importantly, the HCA have given their commitment to finding a breakwater funding solution, the details of which are currently under discussion by CHC, the HCA, and the Isle of Wight Council.


At their March meeting, the Cowes Harbour Advisory Committee were fully briefed and consulted on the latest funding news from the HCA.


Recent northerly gales experienced over the winter have again reinforced the requirement for a Cowes Breakwater. In addition, CHC believes that the current pressures on the local and Island-wide economy as well as the challenges from other leisure harbours competing for business and yachting events, mean that delivery of the proposed Breakwater Project continues to be vital to Cowes Harbour's long-term prosperity.

New buoyage for Small Craft Channel

Trinity House has approved a new project to improve the marking of the small craft channel which will help mariners to identify the channel when approaching from the north or east. The new buoyage configuration should be completed in April.

Map courtesy of PC Graphics /


The small craft channel is a minimum of 35m wide and will now be marked by three pairs of lit red and green lateral marks at the eastern end and two pairs of lit yellow lateral special marks at the western end.


The depth in the small craft channel may be as little as chart datum (0.0m) meaning that the minimum depth in the channel is the current tide height. As a rule of thumb, if your draught is more than the current tide height you should avoid using the channel. A tide gauge can be found at Town Quay, with one also being installed on the Shrape Beacon. A live tide gauge feed can also be found on the homepage. 


Vessels using the channel should stay below 6 knots and pass to seaward of the Shrape Beacon and between the three pairs of red and green buoys. Vessels joining or leaving the small craft channel at the western end should navigate with extreme caution and are advised to give way to all vessels navigating in the main harbour fairway.


Care should be taken to adhere to the buoyed channel and not to enter the small craft mooring areas either side which are prohibited areas.


See Local Notice to Mariners No. 12 of 2013 for more information.


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Cowes' newest restaurant opens

A new restaurant celebrating Basque country cooking at its best has just opened at Shepards Wharf Marina. Owned and run by the Stanton family, Amabi will be combining Basque cuisine with fresh Island produce in a relaxed and friendly environment.


Jenny Stanton, whose partner Markel Rodriquez is from the Basque Country, said: "The Amabi restaurant is something that all our family can get involved in. We love Basque country cooking; the food is amazing and enjoys a reputation for being one of the best cuisines in the world.


"At Amabi we want to encourage families to come and enjoy a meal here, plus we'll be introducing lots of exciting ideas over the year - expanding to offer outside catering and crew catering too."

Check out the Amabi website at, phone 01983 716164 or 07964 168634, or send an email to

Cowes Port Handbook 2013-2014

The 2013-2014 edition of the Cowes Port Handbook will be distributed this week throughout Cowes in time for Easter.


The Handbook has lots of new content this year on, places to visit, shopping in Cowes, walks around Cowes and more, along with all the usual, essential information such as the Cowes tide tables, events calendar, and pull out maps including the all important Buoy Racer chart.


We hope you enjoy making use of the new Handbook and have a great season on and off the water in Cowes!

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