Cowes Harbour Commission Newsletter
April 2015
Sail into spring
The sailing season in Cowes is well underway and the first two weekends in May will see the start of the Cowes Keelboat Solent Series and Cowes Keelboat Championship respectively. Don't forget, you can find a useful list of all major Cowes yachting events on our online calendar.

You may have noticed that the westernmost yellow special mark of the Small Craft Channel has been replaced with a new fixed beacon. This has a tide gauge and will soon also display signage for mariners on harbour tidal flows. For full details I suggest you read LNTM No 13 0f 2015.

Please note that the next meeting of our Advisory Committee is on Friday, 8th May and any harbour user or stakeholder who wishes to put forward ideas or issues for consideration by the Advisory Committee is welcome to email Chairman Ben Willows.

Each year the Commission publishes its Annual Report and Accounts, and holds a Public Meeting for presentation to stakeholders. Our 2015 Annual Public Meeting takes place on 21st May at the Island Sailing Club and I would like to extend a personal invitation to all harbour users to attend.

Best regards,
Captain Stuart McIntosh
Cowes Harbour Master
RNLI Yellow Welly Day
Nick Edwards / Cowes RNLI
Cowes RNLI's 'Yellow Welly Day' is coming soon! On Monday, 4th May 2015 from 1000 to 1600 Cowes Lifeboat Station will be holding a fundraising Yellow Welly Day as part of a national RNLI initiative called 'Mayday!'

Mark Southwell, Operations Manager for Cowes RNLI said: "Everyone is invited to come down to the Station and join in with our fun Yellow Welly Day. We will be offering guided tours of the lifeboat station and visitors can meet crews from some of the other organisations involved in search and rescue operations."

Games involving wellies (some of them yellow) will challenge all ages and at 1400 there will be the judging of the two competitions.

Cowes Boat Trail
If you are interested in the maritime heritage of East and West Cowes, there is a walk taking place on Saturday, 2nd May along the "Cowes Boat Trail". The walk will be around five miles, starting from the Northwood Park War Memorial at 1400. To find out more, visit the Gift to Nature website.
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Local Notices to Mariners
Sailors and boaters using Cowes Harbour are advised to regularly check Local Notices to Mariners.

You can also sign up to receive direct email notification of new Cowes Local Notices to Mariners.

Links to recent Notices:

View all current Local Notices to Mariners in force.
Radio Solent visits the Cowes Breakwater

Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) welcomed Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Shelley Jory-Leigh to Cowes last week for the recording of BBC Radio Solent's The H20 Show. They visited the new Cowes Breakwater and interviewed Harbour Master Capt. Stuart McIntosh and Paul Datson from Boskalis Westminster about its construction and use.



Photo (L to R): Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Capt. Stuart McIntosh, Shelley Jory-Leigh, and Paul Datson. Credit BBC Radio Solent.


Do take a few minutes to listen to the clip from the Show about the Cowes Breakwater Project, which includes updates on everything topical relating to this major harbour infrastructure project. Alternatively, you can listen to a podcast of the whole H20 Show and hear more from Capt. McIntosh on the Hoegh Osaka incident in January, as well as events to look forward to this summer in Cowes and more.

Appointments to Board of Commissioners

CHC has announced the appointment of two new Commissioners, Christopher Preston and Jonathan Gillespie, and the re-appointment of David Riley as a Commissioner, for terms of three years from 1st May 2015 to 30th April 2018.


They have been appointed by the Commissioners following recommendations from the recruitment panel, chaired by Roger Mathias CHC Chairman, with stakeholder representative Richard Thornton, CEO of UKSA and independent member Steve Hopper, the Queen's Harbour Master of Portsmouth.


Roger Mathias, CHC Chairman, said: "We are delighted to appoint these three experienced and capable individuals to the CHC Board. They bring the right mix of skills and qualities necessary to play an important part in helping to shape the future of the harbour and its services.


"I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to outgoing Board members Claudia Suckling and Jeremy Dale for their hard work during their six years with the Commission. CHC has benefited greatly from their knowledge and contributions and I would thank them both for the professionalism and commitment they have shown over their time as Commissioners."


Photo (L to R):  Roger Mathias CHC Chairman, Jonathan Gillespie, David Riley, and Chris Preston.


Read the full article at
Safety of navigation in Cowes Harbour

The principal aim of CHC's harbour patrol and enforcement policy is to educate and advise harbour users of safety on the water, including relevant Cowes General Directions, and help all mariners safely use and enjoy the harbour and Medina Estuary.


With the sailing season upon us, CHC has increased patrols on the River Medina offering guidance and advice to visitors to the harbour and Cowes-based mariners alike. You will find one of our two patrol RIBs on station in the Inner Fairway or available on VHF Ch69 between 0800-1800; these hours will be extended as the season progresses. Our RIBs are manned by either Barry, Dave or Dan, who between them have over 30 years of experience with CHC.


New for 2015 will be the introduction of Body Worn Video (BWV) cameras for each of our Patrol Officers. CHC's investment in BWV cameras is part of the Commission's ongoing education and enforcement policy of our General Directions, which are so important for the safety and well-being of all those who enjoy Cowes Harbour.


Photo - Patrol Officer Dave Lewis at CHC's Shepards Wharf Marina.


Read the full article at
Cowes tide heights explained

All sailors and boaters will be well aware of the periodic phenomenon of the tides, one of the most reliable phenomena in the world. We have received several requests for a specific explanation of tide heights in Cowes Harbour and we hope that the following will be of some assistance.

There are five tide gauges (tide boards) within Cowes Harbour; on the Shrape Beacon, at Watch House Slip by the Island Sailing Club, at Cowes Town Quay, a new beacon at the west end of the Small Craft Channel, and at the north end of Medina Wharf opposite East Cowes Marina.

CHC displays the live tide height on our website, and also on our sister site via an electronic tide gauge which takes a feed from the Environment Agency's monitoring site located in Cowes Yacht Haven. Mariners are advised to check the physical tide boards in the harbour and not rely solely on the electronic gauge when conducting your passage.

In Cowes, our Mean High Water Spring (MHWS) tide is 4.2m and our Mean Low Water Spring (MLWS) tide is 0.8m, giving a mean range of 3.4m. The Mean High Water Neap (MHWN) tide is 3.5m and Mean Low Water Neap (MLWN) tide is 1.8m, giving a range of only 1.7m. This means that in Cowes there is double the rise and fall of tide on a mean spring tide compared with a mean neap tide; you can therefore expect approximately double the rate of flow on a mean spring tide compared with a mean neap tide. Of note is the fact that we are currently at the top end of the 18-year lunar cycle which affects all tidal regimes and contributes to the larger tidal ranges and stronger flows that are being experienced at this time.

Vacancy for part-time fuel berth operator

CHC requires a Fuel Berth Operator to join our team at our busy marine fuelling pontoon on the River Medina.

Duties include fuelling visiting craft, taking deliveries using our lighter barge and maintenance of the facility. Familiarity with boats and boat handling would be advantageous and excellent people skills are essential. Full training will be given. Hours will vary dependent on the time of year.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 6th May 2015. Please forward a covering letter and CV to

Cowes Port Handbook 2015-2016 out now

The new Cowes Port Handbook has now been distributed and you can pick up your copy from the Harbour Office at Town Quay, from local yacht clubs, marinas, pubs, chandlers and other shops around Cowes and East Cowes.

The CHC website carries a digital version of the Port Handbook from where you can read, print pages or even download the whole publication, with all 507 hyperlinks enabled for speedy referencing!

Plus, there is also a useful PDF map of Cowes, East Cowes and the River Medina available online to view and download.

Springtime on the Medina Estuary

Spring is a great time to explore the Medina Estuary, both on and off the water. With the start of the new sailing season, lots of visitors and spring sunshine there's an energetic buzz about the place.

A leisurely stroll or cycle around the whole or part of the Medina Estuary circular route is a great way to see the river from a different perspective. It encompasses the rich maritime heritage of the area, beautiful woodland and hedgerow, views across of the estuary and the new shared pathway between Island Harbour and Newport. Although our visiting bird life may have moved on, there are plenty of resident birds to see including little egrets, oystercatchers, curlews and the spectacular diving terns.

British Marine Federation - Isle of Wight

BMF Isle of Wight will be hosting an 'On the Water Day' at Cowes Yacht Haven on Friday, 29th May 2015 from 1000 to 1600, providing a showcase for Island-built boats as well as giving people opportunities to get 'on the water' under sail or power.

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