Finally a new topic of discussion! It's rather refreshing tbh.
Review of Navigation Safety in Wellington Harbour Entrance Channel and Approaches
Don and I were part of a reference group for harbour users. With the hypothesis based on how the use of the harbour has evolved and how might the process and policies be aligned to a more appropriate and modern use, and making the harbour safer for all users with the increase in shipping movements.
I was provided the 45-page report of the draft recommendations; a result of what I can only imagine was from rather tireless stakeholder engagement work done by Grant Nalder. I scanned it and was encouraged to see our input, specifically on the risks and documented issues that we have been managing with the tight ‘alternative’ western outbound track that particular ferries and large vessels use. (You know what vessel I’m talking about!). If you would like to read the doc, knock yourself out.
Grant has asked me to canvass our members to glean more insights on the recommendations; specifically on how to remove the risk to recreational harbour users that the ‘alternative’ western outbound track current poses’. Additionally they see the need to mitigate a risk to all users through the tight navigational space between the two shores of the harbour entrance. The following points are a summary of the recommendations, which Grant is seeking input to:
Removing Falcon Shoals, yes you read that right
Dredging the ‘lumps’ around the shoal area to make it deep enough for large ships to pass through
Having one track in and out of the harbour (removing the ‘alternative’ western outbound track), which would mean:
All ships would travel roughly 200 meters east of the current ‘alternative’ track (see the chart reference below)
It makes that track about ½ way between the current alternative outbound and the current recommended track
It gives back about 200 mts of useable water for recreational harbour users when ships are outbound through that area
It straightens up the course of the ships through that area, so it’s less confusing for incoming traffic
Recommending that ships are single file through the point from the current Falcon Shoals to the outer channel past Barrett’s Reef.
It is likely that the actual ‘stick in the water’ will remain for a time (subtext: might be too hard to deal with). The harbour master is keen to jump on an opportunity that has been presented by Center Port; as they are dredging around the wharves, and while the dredge is here, it could also be used to ‘level of the lumps’ around the shoal, making the depth more conducive to the larger ships.
If you have any insights, comments, recommendations, or questions, chat to myself or Don, comment or email. I’ll be meeting with Grant again in a few weeks, mid-March, to take back our insights and comments. They are only considering the views of WBBC and RPYNC at this point, as we are the main users of that area and have provided a fair representation of other recreational users.
I feel this is a really good start at making our waters a bit easier to work within and having a clear path will help make laying of courses a little easier and our legs a little longer, and removing the guess work around when we might be targets.