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Coronavirus statement

24 July 2020
Updated Friday, 24th July 2020
CHC marine operations update on rafting procedures and shower facilities

Following consultation with local marinas and customers, and whilst adhering to all current COVID-19 Government guidance, Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) will start permitting the rafting of two boats maximum, bow to stern, from Friday, 24th July 2020 at Shepards Marina and at our visitor pontoons on the River Medina.

Boat owners are requested to:
- Supply their contact details on booking for Track / Trace purposes.
- Be courteous and to discuss boarding arrangements with the other boat owner once alongside.
- Supply their own hand sanitiser and/or cleaning products.
- Respect other people's boats and their wishes.
- Follow all other site guidance notices.

The shower facilities at Shepards Marina are now open again with an enhanced cleaning programme in place and visitors are asked to ensure they maintain social distancing whilst using the facilities. Visitors are still encouraged to use their own onboard wash facilities wherever possible, and to be alert to the increased risk of using communal washrooms, showers and toilets.

Visitors are advised to contact Cowes Yacht Haven and East Cowes Marina direct to check the services they are currently offering.

View a PDF of CHC rafting procedures


Updated Friday, 17th July 2020 
CHC marine services operations update 
Cowes Harbour has been grateful to welcome back overnight visitors in the last couple of weeks, with a steady increase in visiting boats since ‘lockdown’ restrictions were eased and boat owners were allowed to get out and about. We are still ensuring that all necessary COVID-19 precautions are being taken to keep everybody safe so that visitors can come and enjoy the new freedom in Cowes and all the Island has to offer. 

The Cowes Harbour Services (CHS) Boatyard at Kingston Wharf is now fully up and running, whilst following all Government guidelines, and is seeing a good amount of work come through the yard from boat owners keen to get back on the water.

The CHS Fuel Berth has seen customers returning in quite significant numbers due to a concentrated and delayed start to the boating season, combined with the recent excellent weather. Many thanks to all our customers for their help and cooperation with our Coronavirus operating procedures.

Demand for the harbour water taxis has been lower than expected, even after the easing of restrictions and also due to the unfortunate cancellation of the majority of sailing events. Despite the current low demand, CHC is still committed to supporting the taxi service, which is available seven days a week during the most popular daytime hours.

Updated Monday, 29th June 2020 
COVID-19 Update - Cowes Harbour Prepares for the Return of Overnight Visitors: 

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 CHC’s main harbour visitor moorings and river pontoon visitor moorings, overnight stays will remain as per the standard charges. For all enquiries and bookings, please contact the moorings team at Shepards Marina for more information.

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.

Updated Tuesday, 2nd June 2020: 
Daytime visitor boats now welcome at Cowes 

In brief: Cowes Harbour Commission’s visitor moorings are now open for daytime and short stay visitors as of today, Tuesday, 2nd June 2020. 

Read the full 2nd June 2020 CHC Newsletter here.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus guidance for visitors to Cowes Harbour Commission moorings:

Guidance for CHC sites

Pontoon guidance


Updated Monday, 18th May 2020: 
COWES HARBOUR COMMISSION (CHC) VISITOR PONTOONS - Cowes Harbour Commission’s temporary policy for CHC visitor pontoons at Cowes is for no short stay berthing or overnight berthing. Therefore, in this current phase of lockdown release CHC is not recommending that visitors should come over to Cowes with their boats from the mainland or even from other Island harbours. CHC will keep this policy under review in line with UK Government guidance and inform harbour users on any further updates. 

Updated Thursday, 14th May 2020: 

Read the full 14th May 2020 Newsletter here.

Updated Tuesday, 12th May 2020: 
Following this week’s UK Government announcements on the phased lifting of COVID-19 restrictions across the economy, Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) recognises that there has been understandable interest from many leisure users who want to get back out on the water.

The Government has not yet issued any specific guidance on leisure marine activities and a number of important issues surrounding the potential reopening of marinas, slipways, pontoons etc. and access to leisure vessels still require urgent clarification by Government. Although it is expected that specific Government advice will confirm that certain sailing activities and watersports will be able to start shortly, marine leisure facilities around the country will need to be assessed and prepared to accommodate social distancing and hygiene measures.

The British Ports Association (BPA) and UK Harbour Master’s Association (UKHMA) have been in daily contact with relevant Government departments and are assured that further guidance is expected to be released shortly. The more general Transport Sector guidance released today, 12th May 2020, makes it clear that organisations are expected to consider it in full and translate its principles and examples into specific actions. To comply with their legal Health and Safety obligations organisations also need to ensure that risk assessments (which take account of relevant guidance) have been carried out and suitable policies and procedures put in place. To do this properly and safely takes time, to ensure safety for users, staff and also the public. This also means that there are likely to be certain measures we all need to follow that could alter what leisure users can do.

The BPA and UKHMA have therefore suggested that Cowes Harbour Commission considers waiting for the more specific guidance to be issued before easing our current restrictions. The intervening period can be used to consider the newly released Transport Sector guidance and to prepare the relevant policies and procedures. These can then be adapted following the release of the more specific guidance.

For the safety of everyone, recreational marine leisure users are asked to remain patient and understanding as the BPA and UKHMA continue to cooperate and work closely with Government.

Cowes Harbour Commission will be in touch again with stakeholders shortly once we have a further update. In the meantime, CHC is developing our opening plans for our marine service sites at Shepards Marina, the Cowes Harbour Services Boatyard and Fuel Berth, and we hope to be able to confirm full details to all our customers as soon as possible. Please also read Cowes Local Notice to Mariners No. 14(T) of 2020 that has just been issued.

Updated Monday, 11th May 2020: 
Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address to the UK on Sunday evening, 10th May 2020, Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) can confirm there is no immediate change at the moment to ‘stay off the water’ messages. CHC is liaising with the South Coast Harbour Masters’ Association, British Ports Association, Government, RYA and British Marine to clarify what the latest Government announcement means for port and marine operations and policies, and we aim to update stakeholders further by this Wednesday, 13th May. 

CHC has been following the Government’s advice in respect of Coronavirus and we have put measures in place to limit risks to port users, our staff, emergency services and the public. As the country moves towards the easing of certain provisions of the lockdown there will be an understandable interest from many leisure users who want to get back out onto the water. Whilst we are keen to see this eventually, we will need to assess the Government’s latest guidance in respect of what activities and essential travel will be permitted. 

Furthermore, even when we are able to reopen CHC’s facilities, stakeholders should be aware that arrangements to preserve social distancing will be needed. This means that there are likely to be certain measures we need to enforce that could alter what users and visitors can do. In the meantime, we thank you for your patience and support. We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise of any further updates as soon as possible this week.

• View the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy (Published May 2020)

Red Funnel Ferries:
Visit the Red Funnel COVID-19 FAQs web page for more information.

HM Government:

HM Government information following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), including guidance for British people travelling: 



Latest NHS advice:


World Health Organisation:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

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