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October 2007

Taw Torridge estuary and Bideford Harbour October 2007.

The dry weather has seen shipping revert to more normal berthing manoeuvres at Bideford especially with the current actually moving upriver during the last hour of flood. The riverbed is more amenable to walking on and has become more sandy in places. Shipping at Bideford (clay exports) continues to be above forecast with 16 clay exporting ships at Bideford since April to date compared with 9 ships last year same period. A relief Pilot is currently undergoing his 3 month training period.

The channels depths within the estuary have remained sufficient for shipping, with some considerable changes of channel position down at Appledore. 
The previously reported approach channel buoy damage - specifically the Bar buoy has yet to be repaired though has had a temporary light on. Still no new buoys or lights have been laid or placed by Trinity House.

Usage of east the water wharf space still remains unresolved at present. No new houseboats have entered the harbour, or Torridge river though requests are even more common in recent months, with the high cost of conventional housing. The river Taw has gained two new large barges at Heanton over the last week (again from Gloucester area). A large yacht is moored there also (Charlie Burridge), as well as Severn Seas shipping’s spud leg barge.

The catamaran ex Admiralty training barge Hindostan has been granted a temporary licence to moor within Bideford Harbour to undergo maintenance and painting, near to the slipway. An application to moor on an annual basis is being considered. No further information has been received from the prospective owners of the large floating student hotel.

Sand Dredging on behalf of a consortium of North Devon farmers has practically ceased within the river Torridge, anecdotal evidence suggests costs may be a factor in the reduced operation.

Lundy road repair materials are due to recommence export from Bideford this month via landing craft Pont Menai.

The river Torridge, Bideford Harbour and the Taw Torridge estuary received favourable publicity on Westcountry TVs evening magazine programme recently together with a double page spread in the Western Morning Newspaper.

A request to a meeting at Appledore Shipyard has heralded the start of a better working relationship since relations deteriorated over the last year or two under DML Plymouth. The company is now sold to a large shipbuilding concern and has its own local autonomous director who is keen to foster good working relations with all including boat owners and companies as well as the Pilotage authority operating in the rivers. The new owners (Babcock) have an increasing order book and have laid the keel for an 80 metre superyacht (will be fitted out at Plymouth) followed by an incredible 132 metre superyacht hull and superstructure (longer than the previous largest HMS Scott), which will need the building dock lengthened. Large sections for naval carriers assembled up north are also to be built with the sections being shipped away by tug and barges, or ships, possibly starting next year. The work force (now 250) is to be progressively increased. Agreement has been reached to monitor the main shipping channel off the shipyard, using the company’s workboat Lundy Puffin which will be recommisioned. 

Wildlife at Bideford seems to be on the increase - with three Egrets being spotted near to each other on the east bank from the quay! (Normally only one is present).

The Kathleen and May is due to sail for the first trip of this year to Sharpness on Thursday 15th October for a festival.

Work has commenced on the new coastguard office in Jubilee Square, Bideford opposite the Harbour Office.

Work at the fishermens’s co-op has started and boats are landing their catch at Bideford quay into lorries. Less convenient for the fishermen, but popular with onlookers!

Bideford Harbour constitution is currently under review.

Captain Roger Hoad Pilot Harbour Master.
 
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