MoD police stop sailors on the water in Portsmouth Harbour

Authorities responsible for patrolling the Solent have asked people not to take to the water during the national lockdown, as sailors continue to venture out.

The MoD Police have been stopping pleasure boats in Portsmouth Harbour all week, with two boats out on the water on Saturday, according to a spokesman from the Queen’s Harbour Master in Portsmouth.

“There have been a couple of people heading out – they have been turned around by police, saying it isn’t essential exercise,” says the spokesman, according to the Portsmouth News.

“People think they are isolated out on the sea, but they still have to get out there.”

Sailors were risking their own health and the health of coastguard and emergency services crews who may be called upon to help in the event of an emergency, the spokesman says.

“Social distancing would have to go out of the window. It would come down to people using personal protective equipment – but it’s still a tricky situation.”

It is “not fair” for sailors to risk emergency service crews breaking social distancing, the River Hamble Harbour Authority said in a statement following a rescue operation on Wednesday.

The statement said: “In completely benign conditions, we were called out to rescue a single-handed sailor who had run aground at the mouth of the river.

“It is simply not fair to place emergency response personnel in such a position.

“Going for a run or exercising is one thing, going out on a boat, paddleboard or kayak is another.”

The Langstone Harbour Board in Hayling Island reported that sailors continued to use the water in the run up to the lockdown – despite the government advising against non-essential journeys.

“Last Saturday, we saw three people out on the water – since then we haven’t seen anyone.”

In his address to nation on Monday evening, the prime minister said people would be permitted one form of outdoors exercise a day, including walking, running, and cycling.

Michael Gove appeared on the BBC on Tuesday to add that outdoors exercise included visiting an allotment, but not more social activities such as playing golf.

Boat and water-sport enthusiasts should be sensible and follow government guidelines, according to a spokeswoman from the Royal Yachting Association, which also supports jet-ski owners.

“Understandably and under normal circumstances, the RYA would not want to discourage recreational boating activity,” she says.

“However, these are exceptional times and, if the government rules are ignored, it not only could you put yourself and others at increased risk of contracting the virus, you risk placing an unnecessary potential burden on the emergency services.”

Police have been given the power to fine people upwards of £60 for flouting lockdown rules.

Read the full article online.

5 responses to “MoD police stop sailors on the water in Portsmouth Harbour”

  1. Liz Rolfs says:

    Am I missing something? Admittedly a call out to emergency services is potential a problem. But that is not frequent and can even be assisted with safe distancing in practice most of the time.
    So, to stop sailboats (a solitary activity) does not make sense. I understand that marinas have closed as well. Again it does not really make sense. Of all activities which can guarantee safe distancing I would have thought sailing was the top most. You can get to your boat without nearing anyone, you can sail without nearing anyone and you can return in the same way. And that happens anyway on a fairly busy summer’s day, let alone now. Rules can be applied as to where in a marina you can/can’t go e.g. not the toilet block, what you can or should avoid touching (cleats and other people’s ropes) and so forth. But I fail to see where the problem is otherwise. Am I missing something?

    • Zella Compton says:

      It’s the unnecessary travel to the boat given that we’re only supposed to travel when absolutely necessary. And, the ‘stay at home’ unless you have to get essentials.

      So this is enforcement of those rules.

      I don’t think you’re missing anything, but I suspect it’s much easier for the Government to stop all activities like this and then there’s no doubt.

      The arguments lies with whether sailing is seen as exercise or a leisure activity? Perhaps we should be lobbying for a set of safe practices to be drawn-up in case we’re in this situation all summer?

  2. Adrian Handley says:

    What absolute tosh.Joe public doesn’t deliberately go out to have an accident. I doubt whether many of them have in the last decade. Just because the authorities have been gifted these powers it doesn’t mean they have to exercise them. Back off show some restraint

    • Zella Compton says:

      Restraint is key. Did you read about the lake in Derby being dyed black? So over the top.

      • Matt Smith says:

        So, let’s be accurate if we’re going to start bringing that up. The lake in question, actually a discuses quarry, has been dyed black for at leas the last 8 years. This is because the water is toxic and harmful to those who might swim in it. It wasn’t an “over reaction” on the part of the police, it was a measure already in place, to stop idiots who can’t take a simple instruction on board, and who will still risk swimming in the toxic water, placing their health at risk and putting further burden on the NHS. It’s not rocket science, and to suggest it’s a heavy handed response to restrict people’s liberties is overly dramatic rhetoric designed to get a reaction. Stop it.