A change in the rules by Lymington Harbour Commissioners could enable Wightlink ferries sailings to/from Yarmouth to sail in windy conditions, increasing the number of crossings.
Wightlink tell OnTheWight that their Board is awaiting relevant technical reports and advice from Natural England before making a final decision.
When the new ferries were introduced three years ago, the Commissioners applied a restriction to their use, when transiting through the river in winds stronger than a mean wind speed of 35 knots gusting 42 knots, as the Wightlink (WL) captains were new to the craft and operating their directional thrusters to steer the craft. The ‘safe operating profile’ as it’s known in the trade.
Three years experience
Speaking to Ryan Willegers, the Harbour Master and Chief Exec, OnTheWight learnt that WL approached the harbour commissioners asking for the restrictions to be reconsidered as the crews now had three years with experience with the ferries.
Safety assessment review
The Commissioners safety committee carried out their own review safety assessment and met with the Wightlink Route Senior Master (in effect, the head of the WL captains) who spoke supportively of the increase.
When this was combined with the environmental assessment that they undertook with Natural England, their view was that there would be no adverse impact.
This report was presented at the Harbour’s board meeting on 11th March, which voted it through.
As a result the restriction has been raised from 40 knots gusting 47 knots.
Ryan Willegers told OnTheWight that the Commissioner calculated that 25 sailings were stopped because of the restriction last year, so would in the future be freed up, leaving only a handful of sailings that might be disrupted due to high winds.
Statement from Wightlink
Here’s the statement that Wightlink gave OnTheWight after we contacted them earlier today.
Wightlink has carried out a risk assessment and is satisfied after four years of operational experience that from a navigational safety point of view it is safe to increase the current wind speed limits. As result an application was put to Lymington Harbour for them to consider our request.
LHC have informed Wightlink of their decision to approve an increase in wind speed limits to MWS 40 knots gusting 47 knots.
The Board of Wightlink have met to consider whether they will implement that approval and a final decision has been deferred pending consideration of the relevant technical reports and the advice from Natural England. The wind speed limit increase will not be implemented until this assessment has been completed.
(Via Daily Echo report)