Cowes sailors face speed guns

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The Independent Online

Sailors who treat Cowes harbour like a "motorway sliproad" could face fines of £2,000 after the introduction of speed guns and flashing signs to clamp down on dangerous seafarers.

Cowes Harbour Commission is introducing the measures – believed to be the first of their kind in the world – in reaction to the increasing number of vessels using the Isle of Wight harbour.

The harbourmaster, Captain Stuart McIntosh, said the approach to Cowes from the Solent was like a "motorway slipway" on which motorists left the main road at 70mph and did not slow down quickly enough.

The aim of the safety measures was to educate rather than prosecute, he said. People would be fined up to £2,000 as a last resort. The equipment would be similar to that used on roads, and would include laser speed guns and signs which flashed messages when a vessel was going too fast.

Capt McIntosh said the number of craft – particularly inflatables and marine cruisers – was rising all the time. Some were travelling too fast for the harbour. "They are coming from the Solent and they may slow down as a matter of course. Quite often when you are doing 30 knots in the Solent you think you have come down to a sensible enough speed, but you are still travelling well in excess of our harbour speed limit of six knots," he said.

"The resulting wash can cause fairly severe implications for safety for other vessels and people."