Confusion over new buoyed swimming area

The RYA has advised sailors there is no ban on anchoring in Osborne Bay on the Isle of Wight, despite claims to the contrary by local English Heritage representatives.

The bay area of the Osborne House Estate has been opened to visitors for the 2012 summer season and English Heritage has obtained a marine licence from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to lay buoys to mark a swimming area for visitors to the beach.

Following an objection by the RYA to the original application, however, this licence does not permit English Heritage to prohibit anchoring or navigation in the waters adjacent to its beach (including in the swimming area).

Gus Lewis, Head of Legal and Government Affairs, said: ‘We have received a number of reports from boaters that they have been instructed by a representative of English Heritage from the beach in Osborne Bay that they are not allowed to anchor in or close to the marked swimming area.

‘Clearly, if there is an area marked out for swimming then boaters will need to take particular care if they choose to navigate or anchor in this area. However, English Heritage has no authority to prohibit anchoring anywhere in Osborne Bay and its staff have no power to require anchored boats to move.’

The RYA objected to the original proposal on several grounds in January 2012 and, despite the fact that the marine licence has been issued, there are a number of unresolved issues relating to safety of navigation on which the RYA continues to press the MMO for a resolution.

In particular, the RYA remains concerned about the adequacy of the marking of the swimming area and the location of the individual marker buoys.

Gus Lewis says: ‘In the meantime, we have written to English Heritage to challenge the actions of its representatives in demanding that boats anchored in Osborne Bay are moved.’

The RYA would like to hear from any boaters who have been challenged by English Heritage for anchoring in Osborne Bay or navigating within the marked swimming area.