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Cowes Harbour prepares for return of overnight visitors

by Cowes Harbour Commission 29 Jun 17:36 UTC
Cowes Harbour prepares for return of overnight visitors © Cowes Harbour Commission

Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) is getting ready for the return of overnight visitors to the harbour following confirmation from the UK Government that overnighting on boats will be allowed from this Saturday, 4th July.

CHC has been taking a cautious, stepped approach to opening up its marine services and facilities in line with the Government's continued easing of lockdown restrictions. The latest changes mean that we can now accommodate pre-booked overnight stays at our visitor moorings in the harbour, on the River Medina and at Shepards Marina. Currently, there will continue to be no rafting of boats and CHC is working with other Solent harbours on this topic towards a protocol agreement for the Solent to put to the South Coast Harbour Masters' Association and British Ports Association. Short stays at CHC visitor mooring locations will also be changing from 4th July back to the normal "up to four hours" stay.

Safety remains CHC's top priority in the harbour and whilst the Island's tourism sector also prepares for the return of summer visitors on 4th July, we are focused on keeping Cowes Harbour safe and protected by staying COVID-19 secure and seeking to make changes that best mitigate the risks to visitor safety that are unique to a port and marina environment.

We can confirm that we have complied with the Government's guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19 at CHC sites and visitor mooring locations with extra mitigations in place to ensure that our visitor moorings are safe places to bring your family to stay overnight.

We urge all visitors to maintain the 2 metres social distancing between visitors of different boats, households or support bubbles, and where that is not viable, 1 metre is acceptable plus mitigations such as the wearing of facemasks in communal spaces.

We have made a number of adaptations to keep our staff and visitors safe, with protective screens in reception, and hand sanitisers available for visitors' use at Shepards Marina. We continue to encourage all visitors to use hand sanitiser or handwashing facilities as they enter our premises and regularly during their stay as they move between different areas in the marina.

We are awaiting the full Government guidelines on overnight stays, as relevant to ports and harbours, marinas and mooring facilities, but CHC is working towards the following:

  • Informing all pre-booked overnight visitors in advance about guidelines for Shepards Marina and harbour/river moorings.
  • Ensuring enhanced, frequent cleaning of areas receiving higher usage with overnight stays.
  • Recommending that visitors use the wash facilities onboard their own boats wherever possible.
  • Putting in place measures to manage the usage of shared washroom and toilet facilities by overnight visitors.
  • Keeping shower facilities closed for the first week and under review.
  • Having clear information to alert visitors to the increased risk of using communal washrooms and toilets.
  • Keeping customers' contact details in case of need for track and trace.
As a result of the current COVID-19 restrictions on some holidays abroad, this is a good opportunity to take a Great British summer staycation in support of British tourism. CHC aims to offer the best berthing experience we can in the circumstances and to safely share the best of Cowes Harbour with all overnight visiting boats.

Shepards Marina will initially be offering the lower overnight berthing rate of £2.94pmpn from Monday to Sunday (to be kept under review). For all enquiries and bookings, please contact the moorings team at Shepards Marina for more information. For CHC's main harbour visitor moorings and river pontoon visitor moorings, overnight stays will remain as per the standard charges.

For Cowes Yacht Haven, East Cowes Marina, and other mooring providers, boat users are advised to visit their respective websites and contact them directly for the most up-to-date policy information and details on visitor berthing.

New season Cowes Local Notices to Mariners

Cowes Local Notices to Mariners are in the process of being updated and reissued to reflect the Government's latest guidelines and in advance of a potential increase in visitors to Cowes Harbour now that overnighting is allowed.

All visitors to Cowes Harbour, whether regular or for the first time, are strongly advised to check all the current Notices to Mariners in force before setting off in their boat.

Hants Marine Unit 'Operation Wavebreaker'

After a significant surge in reports of anti-social behaviour on the water in the last month, Hampshire Marine Support Unit have launched Operation Wavebreaker to address the issues and to start to look for some long-term solutions to this perennial problem. In addition to working with other Police Marine Units around the country to share ideas and practices, Hampshire Marine Unit are working closely with local harbour masters, maritime rescue agencies and community groups to quantify the issue and look at effective ways of modifying the current behaviours to ensure everyone can use the water in a safe and enjoyable environment.

Police Constable Mark Arnold from the Hampshire Marine Support Unit said: "Operation Wavebreaker is a county-wide initiative to target anti-social behaviour on the waters of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Working with our partners and the community we aim to tackle any issues involving all types of watercraft to ensure the marine community stay safe and abide by the laws on the water. The initiative will need help from the community, and we encourage any anti-social behaviour to be reported to the Police by calling 101."

Operation Wavebreaker will address all types of anti-social behaviour on the water from small craft being used dangerously to groups of people swimming in prohibited areas causing a nuisance. If the lives of our marine community are being negatively affected by others acting in an anti-social or dangerous manner, the Hampshire Marine Unit want to know, and they will take positive action.

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