Floating Bridge: Vital data switched off ‘deliberately to stop floatyfinder’ developers claim (Update 2)

The developers of the fantastic, free Floaty Finder service claim the Floating Bridge manager told them vital public data had been switched off ‘deliberately to stop floatyfinder’.

floaty finder and erik with his hat

The developers of an online service that allows users of the Cowes floating bridge to find out when the next service is due have claimed the Isle of Wight council have turned off live shipping data to “deliberately to stop floatyfinder”.

FloatyFinder: “Switched it off deliberately”
The people behind Floaty Finder claim,

“We have had a reply from the manager of the floating bridge. This time it’s not broken, they switched it off deliberately to stop floatyfinder”

What is FloatyFinder?
Floaty Finder is a fantastic service, freely created and run by an Isle of Wight software company, Wight Hat.

This Island company has generously created a Web version, as well as dedicated mobile versions on Apple and Android – all for free, to help people out.

It’s designed to help Islanders and visitors understand that the Floating Bridge is running, even showing the detail of which side of the Medina the Floating Bridge is currently at.

Importance of AIS data
Floaty Finder is possible because the new Floating Bridge transmits its current positions using AIS. AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) is a globally-recognised safety feature for ships that broadcasts the position of the craft – it’s what let Andy Stanford-Clark create the Tweeting Red Funnel ferries back in 2009.

OnTheWight has checked the available AIS sources and there are no updates from today. The last record of an AIS broadcast from the Floating Bridge that we can find is 19:36 last night (Tuesday).

No AIS data means no ability for FloatyFinder to inform the public. Turning the Floating Bridge’s AIS off is like turning the light off, plunging all FF users into darkness.

Questions to the council
We’ve put the following questions to the council. They’ve acknowledged them and we’re still awaiting answers.

  1. Is it true the AIS transmitter on the Floating Bridge has been turned off? (I can’t find the data after 19:37 last night)
  2. If so, please send over a detailed explanation as to why
  3. When will it be turned back on again?

Response from IWC
Update: IWC have acknowledged the questions swiftly, but took ~five hours to provide the following response:

A council spokesperson said: “Further discussions are taking place in regard to the use of the tracker on the floating bridge.

“We can confirm it was inadvertently switched off, rather than deliberately.

“We have contacted the Floaty Finder website to discuss the matter in private.”

Update 10:47 : IWC switched the Floating Bridge AIS back on last night. This morning Floaty Finder became available to the public again.

Caricature “caused offence”
At present it’s unclear whether there is any connection to this, but on their Facebook page, the FloatyFinder creators say the Isle of Wight council have advised the team their “caricature of Erik” – a well-known member of the floating bridge staff who features on the service – “has caused offence”.

They say,

“That is the *last* thing we’d ever want. If there’s a problem then we obviously want to make it right.”

OnTheWight followed up with IWC asking for denials on the claimed quotes from the Floaty’s manager and ‘offence’ claims.

Image: © Floaty Finder

Wednesday, 22nd August, 2018 2:51pm


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Filed under: Cowes, East Cowes, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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12 Comments on "Floating Bridge: Vital data switched off ‘deliberately to stop floatyfinder’ developers claim (Update 2)"

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We don’t live in an autocracy, whatever the IW Council may think. Floaty Finder is a private website using public AIS data – they can put whatever they want on their website, and all they were doing was trying to help. The AIS is turned on as it is a very important safety feature – why would the Council spend taxpayer money to instal it if they… Read more »

They have the wrong type of chain link They would be better going to a powered landing craft going from landings closer to West Cowes and a little closer to the East Cowes ferry terminal.Chain links are okay where there is not much of a tidal rate


I’m not an expert, but I thought an operational AIS was a legal requirement for this vessel. Comments please :)

Simon Cooke
Sadly it is not officially a ‘vessel’, even though it falls under the Maritime and Coastguard Agencies remit (who even have the power to suspend it). It is actually considered an extension of the road network. You’d think it would be mandatory, given it crosses the river and is an obstacle to other river traffic. But the MCA says it isn’t a legal requirement. So if the… Read more »
Not quite accurate in that it is controlled by the HSE who utilise the MCA because it operates on the water. It’s not legally a “ship”. However, it hasn’t been proven to be a road either although it VERY MUCH functions as part of the road network. Splitting hairs, but just adding some clarification. It is incredibly important to traffic in Newport and holding together Cowes and… Read more »

It’s a shame floaty finder is necessary; all we really want is a timetable


Odd. The AIS has been back on since tea time yesterday, FloatyFinder still down.


Edit. Floaty Finder back working now as well. Didn’t seem to be just now.


So instead just look at http://www.ferryspy.com
Yes it’s bad news someone has switched something off. We will never get to the bottom of this fiasco but http://www.ferryspy.com has been there all the time!!!

As I said in my post, ferryspy is great but often the video doesn’t load, the live feed is delayed by 15 seconds, and of course it costs data to stream a live video feed on a phone. It wasn’t duplicative but creating another service. It doesn’t matter if there were 10 websites out there all doing similar things; the issue is why did the Council turn… Read more »

What a nice idea! Full marks to somebody with a bit of community spirit.


For goodness sake, lets have some common sense. What is the point of having A.I.S (automatic identification system) on a vessel that is secured to the land by TWO BL**DY GREAT CHAINS !!! Waste of money.