Yachtsmen to face harbour speed traps in Britain

Laser speed guns and flashing warning signs are set to be introduced at a popular sailing harbour in a bid to improve safety.

Laser speed guns and flashing warning signs are set to be introduced at a popular sailing harbour in a bid to improve safety.

Cowes Harbour Commission is set to introduce the measures - believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the world - in reaction to the spiralling number of vessels using the Isle of Wight harbour.

Harbour-master 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 only be fined up to £2,000 as a last resort, if they were repeat offenders.

The equipment would be similar to that used on roads, and would include laser speed guns and signs which flash warning messages when a vessel is going too fast.

‘‘We are looking to promote a campaign to increase safety within Cowes harbour,’’ said Capt McIntosh.

‘‘The number of leisure craft is increasing all the time in the Solent, in particular large ribs (rigid inflatable boats) and fairly large marine cruisers.

‘‘What we are finding is that with Cowes, being in the central Solent, a lot of the craft tend to act like cars coming off a motorway on to the slipway.

‘‘They are coming from the Solent and they may slow down as a matter of course, but 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.

‘‘The resulting wash can cause fairly severe implications for safety for other vessels and people in the vicinity.

‘‘We are looking at measures which will educate the mariners of excessive speed and wash, have a more visible policing system, and introduce laser speed guns and doplar effect signs which light up to say your speed is excessive.

‘‘We are looking to use similar equipment to that used on the road in villages. I do not think any other harbours have introduced these.’’

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