Being upriver of the outer harbour and above its narrows, East Cowes Marina offers complete protection from all conditions. Safe access may be had in all reasonable conditions, day or night and at all stages of the tide.
Keyfacts for East Cowes Marina
SummaryA completely protected location with safe access.
Position and approaches
Haven position50° 45.188' N, 001° 17.525' W
This is the northern end of 'A' Pontoon that exhibits a light 2 F.R (vert) by night.
What are the key points of the approach?
The Solent and Isle of Wight Coastal Overview. The approaches and run up the fairway are detailed in the Folly Inn entry.
Not what you need?
- Shepards Wharf - 0.4 nautical miles N
- Cowes Yacht Haven - 0.5 nautical miles N
- Cowes Harbour - 0.8 nautical miles NNW
- Folly Inn - 1.2 nautical miles SSE
- Osborne Bay - 1.5 nautical miles ENE
- Island Harbour Marine - 1.7 nautical miles SSE
- Thorness Bay - 2.8 nautical miles WSW
- Newport - 2.9 nautical miles S
- Wootton Creek (Fishbourne) - 3.2 nautical miles ESE
- Gull Island - 4 nautical miles WNW
How to get in?
East Cowes Marina is located on the East bank of the River Medina about ½ mile south of the Isle of Wight’s principal port of Cowes. The town stands on both sides of the entrance to the River Medina with Cowes being located on the west bank facing the much smaller town of East Cowes on the east bank. East Cowes Marina is south of the small town of East Cowes and is the third marina within the entrance to the River Medina.
Positioned on the port side of the river the marina is situated about ⅓ of mile south of the narrows where the chain ferry operates and about a mile within the No. 1 and No. 2 buoys. At night the marina exhibits 3 lights on columns, 2 F.R (vert), one at its northern end, one on ‘E’ pontoon and a final light at its southern end pontoon. The marina follows the east bank of the river with a depth of 3.0 metres on the outer berths and 2.5 metres on inner berths. It can accommodate yachts of up to 36.5 metres LOA. Berths commence at ‘A’ on its northern end and continue up river to ‘T’ at its southern end. Individual berth numbers ascend from 1, on the outside or fairway side of the hammerheads, to 9 or higher by the shoreline.
As the town experiences 30,000 boat visitors a year about 150 of its 360 possible berths are made available to visitors. The first series of pontoons, 'A' and 'B', at the northern end of the marina are entirely dedicated to visitors. The bay layout of the visitor pontoons means that during busy periods rafting is necessary, but there is ample access to electricity and fresh water. The marina also accommodates visiting yachts throughout the marina on finger berths belonging to resident holders that are away.
East Cowes Marina berths may be booked in advance for any time of the year, subject to availability. The marina is available on +44 1983 293983 or VHF Ch. 80 call sign [East Cowes Marina]. The last opportunity to book a berth for an upcoming weekend is the noon of the preceding Thursday.
During large scale sailing events, such as Cowes Week, Round the Island Race and various other regattas, visitors should expect tariffs to increase as the marina tends to become overrun with demand. During these times it is essential to book well in advance to secure a berth. To guarantee the availability of the pre-booked berth the vessel must arrive during office hours, 8am-5pm in the winter and 8am to 8pm in the summer. If for some reason a pre-booked date cannot be achieved, provided the marina is notified in advance and the booking in excess of £50, a credit will be left on the system for a vessel to use later in the same season.
The approaches to Cowes and the run up the River Medina fairway are detailed in the Folly Inn entry.
Berth as directed by the East Cowes Marina office or berthing master. Expect the berthing masters to moor bows-into the tide or wind, whichever is stronger, unless they specifically request otherwise. Vessels arriving outside of office hours may use any suitable berth on ‘A’ or ‘B’ pontoons. The river has ample room to circle around whilst appropriate lines and fenders are set in place.
The helmsman should make particular note of the run of the tide under the pontoons when coming alongside or departing. Spring ebbs can attain a rate of 3kns in the river with the tides running strongest mid-river. Tidal streams run fair to the path of the river and are southward on the flood and northward on the ebb.
Why visit here?The town of Cowes is fully introduced in the Cowes Harbour entry. The comparatively smaller East Cowes is situated on the east bank of the River Medina, opposite its more prominent neighbour but connected by the Cowes Floating Bridge, a chain ferry operated by the Isle of Wight Council. The ferry service, free to foot passengers, runs seven days a week since it commenced 1849 when it was powered by horses.
Visiting vessels approaching East Cowes from the eastern Solent will have already seen two of the town’s most prominent buildings that both overlook The Solent. The first of these is the magnificent Osborne House that is covered in the Osborne Bay anchorage entry. It is situated a mile southward of Castle Point and the building is made conspicuous from seaward by its prominent tower and flagstaff.
The second of these two buildings is Norris Castle. It is situated closer to the River Medina entrance, about 600 metres to the southeast of Castle Point, and is the headland's signature building. Norris Castle was built in 1790 by Lord Henry Seymour, from the designs of James Wyatt. Wyatt also designed farmyard buildings of the same design that are further inland. The castle was built on the site of the original 16th century East Cowes Castle and designed to imitate a Norman Castle. Seen today, surmounted by the massive towers that rise from the surrounding woodlands, it holds an ancient state of grandeur and air of venerable antiquity that easily dates it back to the Norman period. Yet its stalwart structure and crenulations are all for show. It was designed entirely to entertain and has no defensive fortifications or capability. Despite its appearance of size it has only fifteen rooms in total, including four bedrooms, and the illusion of size is created by most of the building being occupied by a single line of rooms with a connecting passageway.
Norris Castle is a truly picturesque structure from whatever point it is viewed. It occupies a most beautiful woodland tract that extends along the northern side of the island. Located more than 90 metres above the level of the valley it stands in bold relief, either viewed from the coast or from the entrance to the harbour. King George IV visited the castle in 1819, and the young future Queen Victoria, with her mother the Duchess of Kent, came to stay in 1831. So enamoured with Norris Castle was Queen Victoria that she decided to buy it. But this was not to be as the owner at the time, the newspaper tycoon Thomas Bell, wanted too much money for the estate. So Victoria and husband Prince Albert opted to buy the next estate to the east and build Osborne House there. In the second half of the twentieth century the Norris Castle was opened to the public and although closed to the public since 1999 it remains a famous East Cowes landmark. Queen Victoria’s Osborne House, gardens, Swiss Cottage and private beach is only a 15 minute' walk away from the marina. Unlike Norris Castle it is open daily 1000-1800 to English Heritage members.
Visiting vessels from all directions of the River Medina will find it impossible to overlook another East Cowes’ landmark that has royal connections. This is the massive Union Flag painted on the main hangar doors of the Columbine hanger at Venture Quays. The quays and hanger were originally built in 1935 by British aero and marine-engineering company Saunders-Roe and the building has been at the forefront of some of the greatest British maritime innovations. The impressive 46 x 12 metre painting was originally painted to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Queen's coronation in 1977 and was recently refreshed in 2012. It is today the world's largest image of the Union Flag.
Today East Cowes is home to the Red Funnel's busy terminal that is located at the very front of the town just over a 10 minute walk from the chain ferry. The town behind it has an eclectic mixture of shops to explore as well as some small cafes, pubs and restaurants. In recent years it has undergone some major developments bringing a fresher look and along with it a host of new businesses. A quiet shingle and sand beach can be found running along the Esplanade which is a short distance out of the town. The access road runs the length of the beach, behind the sea wall, with a wooded area to the rear that is perfect for walks.
From a sailing perspective East Cowes Marina provides access to Cowes. However being a mile to the south and on the opposite side of the river, unlike the first two marinas of Shepards Wharf and Cowes Yacht Haven, East Cowes Marina is much less convenient. By foot it requires a walk through an industrialised area and a wait for the chain ferry, which takes 15-20 minutes to cross the River Medina. By tender or harbour taxi it is about ¾ of a mile down river to Town Quay. However, by recompense, the marina is situated in a far more relaxed setting well removed from the busy fairway and in a much more sheltered part of the river.
What facilities are available?All pontoons are fully serviced with water and power that are included in the berthing cost for stays of up to one month. Pontoons have ample connectors, and extension leads and adaptors should they be needed are available for hire from the marina office. The marina has excellent shower, toilet and laundry facilities, free wireless broadband internet access, and rubbish and waste oil disposal facilities. It also exchanges Campingaz and Calor gas bottles. The marina also has an arrangement with ‘Top Gear’ bike hire to deliver bikes to the marina. Immediately ashore the marina offers an array of on-site services including a chandlery and riggers.
Petrol and diesel are available from Lallow's Boatyard, between Cowes Yacht Haven and Shepards Wharf or more conveniently from Cowes Harbour Fuels barge opposite on the west side of the river, +44 1983 200716. Cowes Harbour Fuels also supply Calor gas. East Cowes has a Waitrose which is about a 10-minute walk away, Co-op, post office and ATM machines as well as a selection of, inns, cafes and local shops. Opposite East Cowes Town Hall there is a very good Somerfield on York Avenue. Alldays on Well Road has a cash machine and post office. There is a Lloyds Pharmacy on Ferry Road.
The Cowes Chain Ferry, known locally as the Floating Bridge connects the two towns of Cowes and East Cowes throughout the day. Utilising the floating bridge, which is free for foot passengers, Cowes town centre is only 30-40 minutes’ walk. Alternatively take the tender or book a Water Taxi going to Town Quay. With a population in excess of 10,000 it is also an excellent location for provisioning. The Town Quay has scrubbing berths next to the Harbour Office. Cowes as a whole offers almost any conceivable marine service or facility a vessel could require.
In transport terms Cowes is a gateway town for the Isle of Wight providing berths to two ferry services. Southern Vectis' route 1 is the main bus service in Cowes. Single decker buses branded Red 1 serve the Red Jet terminal, whilst route 1 double deckers serve the M&S Foodhall at Carvel Lane where the old Cowes railway station was situated. Both run to Newport to take travellers on to other island destinations. The old and discontinued rail link to and from the island's capital of Newport is now maintained as a cycle path.
Any security concerns?The marina has an electronic proximity fob to permanent berth holders giving access to the pontoons and washroom facilities. There are also security gates at each entry point to the marina. The entire marina, gates and carpark areas are continuously monitored by a CCTV system.
With thanks to:Michael Harpur S/Y Whistler. Photography with thanks to Michael Harpur.
This video presents an aerial overview of Cowes and the entrance to the River Medina.
This East Cowes Marina video presents the run up the river, in a RIB, from Prince Consort North Cardinal to East Cowes Marina.
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