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CHC news - December 2009

10 December 2009
The Harbour Commission has had another busy year and there has been plenty of positive news to report on throughout the year. As we head towards the end of another 12 months, we’re delighted to report that the Board of Cowes Harbour Commission has agreed to keep increases down to less than inflation in 2010 and there will be no increases in the Harbour Dues.

In the Harbour Master’s Budgetary Review of 2009, Captain Stuart McIntosh states:

“The Commission has not been isolated from the effects of the recession and 2009 has proved to be a challenging operating climate.

“On the shipping front, commercial movements have reduced hence an additional impact on pilotage revenue. This drop was forecasted and is broadly in line with other comparable ports. The Vestas decision to close down their main construction factory will also impact the Commission in 2010 with a reduction in the number of entries from the Bladerunner vessels.

“The Commission's yachting and leisure services have however been resilient to the recession with yacht owners appearing to maximise their investment and use of their boats, whilst probably cutting back in other areas such as foreign holidays. The strength of the Euro has probably also had an impact on this issue. The number of corporate and large commercial yachts has been significantly down on previous years. In addition, the lack of a main sponsor for this year’s Cowes Week has resulted in a drop in income from branding and site rental opportunities.

“KMS’s commercial marine contracts to Solent customers have also been impacted by the recession due to customers either reducing their work requirements or deciding to delay the work until the economic climate improves. The acquisition and commissioning of the new work/mooring vessel Seaclear has also had an impact. The new vessel with its increased capability will hopefully ensure KMS is well placed to compete for new contracts from existing and new customers in 2010.

“Cowes Harbour Fuels has continued to provide a good service in a competitive Solent-wide market with relatively low margins. The early part of the season saw a downturn in sales but it has recovered well during the middle and late part of the season. The impact of the increased duty has been partly mitigated by the drop in the base oil prices. The introduction of the requirement of the fuel provider to administer and be accountable to the revenue and customs for the complicated duty rates has also resulted in increased administration costs.

“Expenditure has been held to budget and reviews have and continue to aim at controlling and minimising expenditure based on the aim of delivering first class services to users and customers of Cowes Harbour Commission.”

Successful Island BMF meeting - CHC Advisory Committee is officially introduced & river users have a forum for debate
The Royal London Yacht Club in Cowes was the venue for a well-attended meeting of the Isle of Wight division of the British Marine Federation (BMF) on 25th November. Included in the discussions was a major debate on the future of Cowes and the River Medina. Another of the discussions points was the formation and remit of the Cowes Harbour Advisory Committee.

The meeting was chaired by Craig Nutter, Chairman of the BMF Isle of Wight, and featured speakers Felix Heatherington and Mike Rainey of the Cowes Waterfront Trust presenting the case for further development of Cowes Yacht Haven.

Capt. Stuart McIntosh provided an update on the proposed new breakwater for Cowes Harbour. One of the reasons for staging the meeting was to introduce the chairman of the new Cowes Harbour Advisory Committee, David Walters, to the Medina River stakeholders. David outlined the purpose of the committee and their advisory role acting as a conduit to Cowes Harbour Commission. He encouraged users to input any concerns and issues they may have, which would then be put to the Commission.

The Cowes Marine Cluster has nominated a representative to the CHC Advisory Committee, Rob Stewart.

Barry Groves of the Cowes Marine Cluster and the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce said that the name ‘Cowes’ was a huge brand name for yachting throughout the world. What was needed was an overall ‘supremo’ to co-ordinate the harbour, river and event operations and that under the present community and public sector arrangements on the Island, only the Isle of Wight Council could really provide this leadership.

Mr Mike Till, the Rear Commodore elect of the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, expressed concern that any ‘upgrading’ of Cowes facilities for yachting events shouldn’t result in higher prices for users and particularly for overseas sailors visiting Cowes as it is already an expensive venue for staging world class regattas and events. Other stakeholders present were also concerned about Cowes being ‘priced out of the market’ for major sailing events and Steve Cole, as M.D. of Cowes Yacht Haven, said there was a meeting planned to take place shortly at the Haven Events Centre that will tackle this subject and will be attended by yacht club representatives and other interested bodies including the Isle of Wight Council.

Training Pontoon for ‘parking’ practice
A really practical initiative that will come into service next spring is that of a new Training Pontoon, prepared by Kingston Marine Services. The pontoon is for the use of any river user, but will be installed especially for training organisations wishing to train crews in the essential art of boat handling and safe berthing. All sailors need at some stage to acquire the skill of “parking” one’s craft and with this new dock in place, this can be achieved without risk of damage to other craft, and without competing for mooring space during the busy summer months. The final location is still being decided and further details will be announced in due course.

On the subject of training, four members of the Kingston Marine Services staff have successfully undertaken an RYA Coastal Skipper Practical exam with the intention of gaining a Commercial Endorsement. This will allow any of the four crew to act as Master of a coded vessel, within 20 miles of a safe haven.

Candid warnings on candid camera
It appears that some boat owners / skippers could do with some more training themselves, namely on ‘How to behave safely and courteously when bringing your vessel into harbour’! No less than 52 vessels were verbally warned during September and October regarding various byelaw infringements, namely speeding and wash. The Berthing Masters have trialled the use of palm-held video cameras for recording incidents where practicable but for its use to be effective two persons are required onboard. It is therefore proposed to re-introduce the ‘radar speed gun’ and further training will be given to the operators.

Kingston Boatyard takes pro-active approach to security
A new eight channel CCTV recording system has been installed at Kingston that can record images from eight separate cameras. The office premises now has a camera covering the chandlery section, a potential hot spot for light fingers! The system has been extremely valuable in the past and has been responsible for the good security that customers associate with KMS.

Harbour Office
The exterior renovations are on target to be completed by Christmas and we trust everyone likes the improvements to the appearance of the building and the enhancement to Cowes Waterfront.

Farewell to John Price
Last, but by no means least, we bid farewell to John Price after 40 years of loyal service. An announcement about the appointment of a new Marine Services Manager will be made in January 2010.

We take this opportunity to send you our very best seasonal good wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

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