Approaches to Cowes Harbour - Vessels may enter or depart Cowes via the main fairway or the small craft channel dependent on size and draught and the direction of approach or departure (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Approaches to Cowes and approximate positions of seasonal harbour moorings.
Large commercial traffic and vessels unable to use the small craft channel by virtue of their size or draught will do so via the main fairway. All vessels approaching Cowes from the west are also likely to utilise the main fairway. Vessels bound to and from the west are requested to pass clear to the north or south of the unlit moorings, laid between 100 and 200 metres off ‘The Green’, between Egypt Point and the Royal Yacht Squadron. Small craft should be vigilant for large and regular commercial traffic which cannot safely navigate outside of the main fairway and are reminded of their duty under Rule 9 of the Collision Regulations.
Small Craft Channel (SCC)
Small vessels generally less than 20m in length approaching or departing Cowes from or to the north or east may use the small craft channel provided that there is sufficient water in relation to their draught. When there is sufficient water small craft are advised to use the SCC in preference to the main fairway therefore avoiding the main harbour entrance, commercial vessels entering or leaving Cowes and the yacht club race start lines that bisect the main fairway. Small craft are also advised that it is possible to avoid the Precautionary Area by crossing the Solent to the east of the Bramble Bank setting a course towards the Shrape Beacon before altering course to the west for the SCC. The difference in distance between using this route and using the main fairway is negligible.
Vessels departing to the east via the SCC in July and August are advised to pass north of the Shrape Mud can lateral buoy and proceed to the eastern limit of the small craft moorings, as indicated by Admiralty SNC 2793, before altering course to the north if wishing to cross the Solent. Vessels approaching from the east via the SCC are advised to follow a similar and reciprocal course to construe with the advice given for departing vessels. Mariners should note that depths of 0.4m above C.D. (chart datum) may be encountered immediately north of the line between the Shrape beacon and the Shrape Breakwater, vessels should therefore avoid passing south of the Shrape Mud buoy. Further guidance on the use of the SCC is contained in LNTM 09/2012 Small Craft Channel.
Deputy Harbour Master, Harbour Office, Town Quay, Cowes, Isle of Wight, PO31 7AS
You can view a PDF of this LNTM here.
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