Blooming daffodils, warmer weather and the sun’s position in the sky are some of the ways we define the beginning of spring, which astronomically started on 20th March this year. For us sailors and boaters however, one of the key dates this spring is Monday, 12th April when lockdown restrictions are due to be eased to allow domestic overnight stays. This means vessels will be emerging from marinas and boatyards after the long winter and so for everyone’s safety and enjoyment on the water, boat owners should ensure they have carried out a full spring commissioning of their vessel and are familiar with the local regulations. For visitors to Cowes, whether Islanders or from the mainland, please also take careful note of and abide by all safety signage on the water and shoreside along the seafront.
Read our top reminders for a safe return to boating this spring:
• Boat maintenance. Vessels may have been out of use for some time so it’s important to get them checked properly before setting out; this will also relieve the pressure on the RNLI and Coastguard.
• General Directions. Know the harbour rules, e.g., the speed limit of 6 knots no wash, give way to the Chain Ferry and commercial vessels, don’t swim in the harbour, and don’t drink and go boating.
• Notices to Mariners. Check this season’s new Notices on navigation in the harbour, Chain Ferry safety advice, UK entry and exit formalities for recreational craft and more.
• Lifejackets. Lifejackets are useless unless worn. Choosing the right one for your activity can be difficult but the RNLI has excellent advice on lifejackets to help your decision.
• Kill cords. Always, always, use a kill cord on board powered craft and ensure it is attached to the driver of the boat. The RYA has a handy page on all you need to know about kill cords.
• Accident and incident reporting. All accidents and incidents must be reported to CHC, especially collisions, close quarters situations, groundings, pollution, or risk reports, so lessons can be learned.
• CCTV. To help keep everyone safe, Cowes Harbour has a CCTV system for the purpose of promoting maritime safety, crime prevention and public safety.
• Operation Wavebreaker. CHC continues to work with the Hampshire Police Marine Support Unit on tackling anti-social behaviour on the water with the aim of finding effective ways of modifying current behaviours to ensure everyone can use the water in a safe and enjoyable environment.
• Watch schemes and initiatives. Project Kraken is an ongoing national initiative to increase public awareness of terrorism and criminal or suspicious activity at marinas, moorings or on the water.