Call 01983 293952 or email

Coronavirus statement

07 April 2020
Updated 7th April. Press Release: COVID-19 Easter message to boaters from Cowes Harbour Commission

Updated 3rd April: COVID-19 Advice Leaflet for Boat Owners: A leaflet has been produced by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum in relation to vessel use and marinas to reinforce the Government's advice to the public during this lockdown period: "Please stay at home".
View COVID-19 Advice Leaflet for Boat Owners 

Updated 31st March: Due to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis, we are all having to get used to these very unusual, challenging and worrying times, and as result, are having to find new ways of working and endeavouring to make the right decisions to ensure we manage the crisis for the benefit and welfare of us all. 

This news is therefore to update you on the measures CHC is taking to assist and manage the harbour and to look after the safety and security of the boats, customers, and stakeholders of Cowes Harbour. 

CHC, the Commissioners and my team are all committed to working in the best interests of the harbour and all our stakeholders and we have been communicating with many organisations and companies to try and work in partnership and co-operation.

I would like to thank you all for your continued support and we all look to getting through this current situation and hopefully getting back to normal and enjoying our harbour, boats and our regular way of life.

Finally, please stay safe and well and continue to follow both the Government guidelines and the spirit of the guidelines.

Best wishes,

Capt. Stuart McIntosh - Cowes Harbour Master

COVID-19 & Cowes Harbour Open Port Policy
As Harbour Authority, Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) has a statutory duty to maintain an ‘Open Port Policy’ for freedom of navigation and public use. Therefore, Cowes Harbour remains open at this time and we cannot refuse entry to any vessel that needs to transit the harbour or access a berth, unless CHC is ordered by the UK Government to close or restrict access to the port.

The Government’s Emergency COVID-19 Bill does include legislation that would enable the Home Secretary to request port operators to temporarily close and suspend operations, but it is understood this would be a ‘last resort’ measure aimed at ensuring international ports and cross-Channel ports have sufficient Border Force to maintain the UK’s border security.

Although CHC continues to ensure compliance with the fundamental open port principle, we have, as mentioned in last week’s E-news, published a Local Notice to Mariners requiring all vessels arriving from a port outside the UK to divert to Trinity Landing and provide information about their crew and last port of call. Our Patrol Officers are also advising harbour users to avoid any movements on the river.

Despite these challenging times, the delivery of harbour statutory duties remains our highest priority to ensure CHC is meeting all its statutory obligations and our top priority of maintaining safety throughout the harbour.

Harbour Patrols
Cowes Harbour Commission is still responsible for carrying out its obligations under the Port Marine Safety Code and Cowes Harbour General Directions, whilst following UK Government, Public Health England, and British Ports Association instructions and guidance. As a result, CHC Patrol Officers in double-handed teams will still carry out robust on-water patrols twice a day, throughout the whole harbour and river, including full pontoon checks on a rotational basis to ensure all boats are secure and safe. The Patrol Officers will also make a walking inspection of CHC’s sites at Shepards Marina and Kingston Wharf to ensure these sites are kept secure whilst closed to the public.

CHC Sites in Cowes and East Cowes
As reported last week and in line with guidance from the Government, the RYA and British Marine, CHC has closed all its sites to customers until further notice. This includes the Cowes Harbour Office, Shepards Marina, and Cowes Harbour Services Boatyard. If customers have any queries, they are requested to contact CHC via email. Customer accounts can still be managed via our online portal.

Additionally, the Cowes Harbour Taxi service, which had been operating under restricted conditions, has been stopped until further notice. Cowes Water Taxis, who were due to start operating the spring/summer taxi service on 1st April, will not commence operations at this point.

RYA and British Marine Advice on Leisure Boating
The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) strongly urges recreational boaters to respect the Government’s instructions of ‘staying at home’ so that those who may become ill do not increase the pressure on local services and facilities. There is so far no blanket ban on arriving in the UK by recreational craft, however, some UK ports, including Cowes, have introduced requirements for vessels arriving from outside the UK to complete and submit a health declaration on arrival. The requirements have been notified via Local Notices to Mariners, as at Cowes Harbour. Once in the UK, recreational boaters will be expected to adhere to the current Government ‘stay at home’ instructions.

British Marine has issued guidance for marinas and strongly recommends that marina operators advise berth holders to stay at home and follow the Government’s directive. The Government has stated that marinas should be treated in the same way as caravan parks, which are non-essential services and have been directed to close.

Fuel Provision at Cowes
CHC has made arrangements for the Cowes Harbour Services Fuel Berth to open up to twice a week to supply essential customers and vessels only, including harbour patrol and work vessels, pilot boats, emergency services such as the RNLI, and any works vessels required to carry out key supplies duties. The opening is in response to coordinated requests from strategic customers and is planned to be at the same times each week.

Commercial Port Operations
Cowes Harbour is still operating on a relatively normal basis for commercial shipping entering and departing the port, and CHC Pilots continue to offer a pilotage service within the Cowes Pilotage Area, albeit with additional stringent social distancing, and health and safety procedures in place.

CHC Working Practices Policy
Given the current situation relating to COVID-19, CHC has reviewed its current working practices to ensure they are aligned with current UK Government guidance. Some CHC staff have been designated as ‘key workers’ to ensure the harbour continues to be safely managed, these include Harbour Masters, Pilots, Patrol Officers, Managers, and several other key workers, who are all continuing to work from home where practicable. This policy will remain under constant review as the situation and guidance develops.

Red Funnel Ferries
Red Funnel continues to monitor the evolving situation in relation to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the high level of uncertainty for customers surrounding their travel plans. To help maintain the wellbeing of Islanders and prevent the spread of COVID-19, Red Funnel strongly urges their customers to follow the Government’s advice, to stay at home, and to not travel on their ferries unless absolutely necessary. Red Funnel also asks Islanders to actively discourage any mainland friends and family from visiting at this time. Furthermore, Red Funnel encourages those who have just returned to the Island, and do not need to travel for essential reasons, to follow the Isle of Wight Council’s advice to self-isolate for at least seven days, but ideally 14 days from the day of arrival. 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.

Back to News Stories

Boatyard | Storage | Chandlery
Shepards Marina
Shepards Marina
Dry Sailing | Events | Moorings
Marine Services
Marine Services
Fuel | Commercial | Self Storage

Website design and build by Netguides