Cowes Harbour Commission has issued a new Local Notice to Mariners over further revised clearance depths to safely navigate the chains of the new floating bridge

15 August 2017

Sailors planning on navigating the mouth of the River Medina, Isle of Wight, are being advised there are new navigational clearance depths for sailing over the chains of the Cowes floating bridge.

It comes as commissioning work on the £3.2 million chain ferry continues – three months after it went into service.

The Cowes Harbour Commission has now issued a new Local Notice to Mariners after further work was carried out by the Isle of Wight Council.

Hydrographic surveys to measure clearance over the chains have been undertaken and sailors are now advised that the maximum permissible draught is now the actual tide height plus 1.1 metres.

Last month, three yachts got stuck on the chains of the floating bridge, which operates between East Cowes and Cowes.

The Cowes Harbour Commission also made a formal protest to the Isle of Wight Council over the difficulties with the new floating bridge, asking for confirmation that the council “will restore the navigational clearance over the chains to the previous charted and recorded depths of the old floating bridge.”

The council is insisting that it is doing all it can to address, what it calls, the “teething problems”.

Continued below…

Sailors are being advised that further chain adjustments and survey checks will be carried out in the near future, with the aim of increasing depths over the chains throughout all tidal cycles whilst maintaining a normal ferry service.

The aim of these scheduled works is be to restore navigation clearance depths over the chains to previous reported depths for the previous ferry.

 

02 August 2017

The Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) has made a formal protect to the Isle of Wight Council (IWC) over continued difficulties with the new floating bridge between East Cowes and Cowes.

It comes after three yachts got caught up in the chains of the bridge last week, as reported by YBW.com on Friday.

A boast is assisted by the harbour master after becoming caught up in the chains of the Floating Bridge

One of the yacht’s caught up in the chains

The council is insisting that it is doing all it can to address, what it calls, the “teething problems” with the £3.2 million chain ferry.

In a statement, the Cowes Harbour Commission said it had requested confirmation from the council that it “will restore the navigational clearance over the chains to the previous charted and recorded depths of the old floating bridge.”

“The Commissioners also reminded the IWC of CHC’s position during the design and consultation stage for the new floating bridge, when the Commissioners had highlighted the importance of maintaining the charted depths of the chains,” said the CHC.

“The Commissioners had also requested that the new floating bridge design would enable the clearance over the chains to be increased, if a capital dredge was carried out to increase the navigational depths, thereby allowing for deeper draught vessels to enter the river and thus future-proofing the harbour and the Island.”

The CHC said it did receive confirmation from the council that “the new floating bridge design would accommodate this potential future requirement”.

YBW.com contacted the Isle of Wight Council which said the three incidents involving yachts getting caught up in the chains was being investigated by the CHC and it was awaiting their report.

It confirmed that some of the “teething problems” with the new bridge and a factor in its grounding and non operation around low water is the problem of too much slack in the chains.

It said the chain lengths will be re-calculated following surveys on 8 and 9 August 2017 (date of the next spring tides), and that resolving this matter was a priority.

CHC has also requested that the council “review other potential modifications, including to the ebb tide check chains that reduce the movement on the main drive chains during periods when the tide is at its strongest.”

The incidents involving the three yachts last Tuesday (25 July) all took place during the end of an ebb tide.

In a statement, the Isle of Wight Council said: “The new bridge is marginally larger than the old one and the council is working with the ship builder and naval architects to resolve the teething problems, ensure that all snagging issues and defects are resolved and that following the successful completion of trials it is handed over to the council.”

Problems with the chains is not the only issue facing the bridge, which only went into service on 13 May.

Since then it has broken down, run aground, been taken out of service during low tide and had its operations suspended by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency over training issues.

Drivers have also complained that their car bumpers are being scraped while getting on and off the bridge.

Operating hours have also been reduced at night because of noise levels and the impact on local residents.

The BBC reported that a council environmental health officer who tested noise levels said they were “loud, intrusive and… well above World Health Organisation guidelines”.

In response to this issue, the Isle of Wight Council stated: “Some noise level readings are currently higher than would be preferable; the Isle of Wight Council has taken advice as to how the noise issue can be addressed and will be working with the construction company to ensure appropriate corrective actions are planned and undertaken as soon as possible.”

28 July 2017

First one boat hit the chains of the new floating bridge on the Isle of Wight…then a second and then a third all in less than an hour.

All incidents on Tuesday (25 July) were filmed, with one of the boat owners needing the help of the harbour master boat to get free.

It is the latest issue to hit the troubled £3.2 million floating bridge between East Cowes and Cowes since it went into service in May.

The videos were taken by a member of the so-called Floaty McFloat Farce Facebook group, which monitors the trials and tribulations of the new chain ferry

An experienced sailor, the member said all of the boats were local to East Cowes, and the incidents happened during the end of an ebb tide height of around 0.9-metres.

The Cowes Harbour Commissioners has issued a Local Notice to Mariners over the new navigational clearance depths of the new floating bridge.

It has also publicly stated that “the successful and early resolution of returning navigational clearance depths over the new floating bridge chains to the previous charted depths” is a priority.

Since launching on 13 May, the floating bridge, which is longer than the previous one, has broken down twice (once the day after launching) run aground three times, and has been taken out of service at low tide.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency suspended the service on 15 May due to “training issues” which have since been resolved.

Drivers have also complained that their car bumpers are being scraped while getting on and off the bridge.

Recently, a decision was made by the Isle of Wight Council, which owns the floating bridge, to suspend the service from 10.30pm each night due to noise levels and the impact on local residents, although it will be operating from 5am until 1.50am the following morning on a constant basis during Cowes Week.

Part of the so-called “teething problems” with the new chain ferry and a factor in its grounding and non operation around low water is the problem of too much slack in the chains.

Design engineers have been brought in by the Isle of Wight Council, but finding the optimised chain length is being carried out by trial and error. Further chain adjustments are expected to be made on the next spring tides in early-to-mid August.

YBW.com has asked the Isle of Wight Council to comment on the matter and is waiting a response.

Last month, the council announced that a full review of all the events surrounding the purchase and provision of the new floating bridge will be undertaken by the council.

It will also carry out a complete review of the approach taken to the design, build and introduction of the floating bridge.

At the time, the council’s cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, Ian Ward, said: “The floating bridge is effectively a boat that has not had the benefit of sea trials, conducted in private”

“Its trials have taken place in a very public way with the expectation that things would be perfect from the off. Sadly, this has not proven to be the case, with much more to be done than might have reasonably been expected,” he noted.