Marine Reports‎ > ‎

April 2006

Taw Torridge Estuary and Bideford Harbour.

The dredging of the approach channel to the DML Appledore covered shed was completed last month by Severn Seas Shipping, to the satisfaction of the yard.

A request by myself that spoil was not dragged into the west channel entrance was honoured, and an agreement was reached with the leaseholders (TDC) of the foreshore and river bed, and DML that the spoil was temporarily placed in front of the shipyard.

The spoil is kept within a bund and has solidified and drained quite well. The agreed removal to sea has not occurred and DML have now requested a postponement on this and may well request to leave the spoil where it is thus creating a Salt Marsh. The effect on the existing dock approach channel needs to be assessed and permission considered by TDC.

DML and the dredging company also honoured their agreement to dig a small test channel through the stony ground at the entrance to the west channel to try to encourage water flow to return to that Appledore side of the channel again. This has improved the flow, but more dredging needs to be done, and ways of financing this are being investigated.

The multi million pound Fish Dock development at Appledore – which will also affect the west channel access – has proposed a 31metre jetty into the channel which will affect shipping, and a request by myself after consultation with other interested parties that the jetty be shortened has been agreed by TDC regeneration department, and the new plan reflects this. TDC hope that after obtaining planning permission work will start after the summer.

The Superyacht being constructed at DML Appledore has been completed and she is ready to be towed round to Plymouth. Unfortunately, despite efforts by all the tidal window has been missed because of strong winds for the tow to Plymouth. Tow out will now occur on the 13th April.

Overall the importance of maintaining this western channel is vital for all marine businesses at Appledore. 

At present the Bideford ships are successfully using the western channel, and as long as this does not deteriorate any more (which it should not with some further dredging work) then this will continue. 

It is the writers opinion that the deeper east channel needs to be regulated, voluntarily or otherwise, such that safe access along it is available to all craft day and night. Ie No moorings in the Fairway – just on the channel perimeters as in other harbours.

The resolving of these issues in both channels will facilitate the ultimate request to Trinity House to mark them properly. 

Bideford quay has been quite well used with clay ships (maximum size) visiting (Two ships last week totalling 5,300 tonnes of clay, some from South Devon.)

The promised storage of clay facility is reportedly going ahead – which will transform the handling of the material at Bideford probably meaning more ships calling, less lorry miles on the roads, and more income for the harbour.

The major TDC reshuffle has delayed certain improvements, including the wreck removal and mooring issues at East the water. However we do have a small yard available over that side of the river where at present a large new boat is to be constructed. 

The HMS Hindustan catamaran barge remains moored in mid stream outside the harbour – the owner not having taken further his request to moor in Bideford harbour as a tea room. He says that he cannot decide what to do with it – I have put suggestions to him, one of which is to moor it together with his tug within the harbour and open all to the public, as well as use for mooring facilities (floating marina). All this would require consultation and Harbour Board agreement.

No new houseboats have been noticed in the river Taw, other than the existing ‘community’ at Heanton. 

Regular requests for houseboat entry continue here at Bideford. 

The Oldenburg has restarted her timetabled sailings to Lundy – mostly from Ilfracombe again this year.

Seasonal changes in river channels have been interesting this year, with the lack of floodwater due to a dry winter creating some changes for the deepest ships navigating to sea. 

The recent high tides have caused some overflooding of wharves within the harbour (East the Water mainly) and the low North End of the new quay flooded (as per its design within its retentive flood wall). Interestingly this occurred on one occasion about a half an hour after high water after the level had dropped a foot or so and surged back in. (High water made predicted height, then the surge came at 0.4metres above the pred HW height.)

Roger Hoad Pilot / HM 

Taw Torridge/ Bideford