Meet the Harbour Master: Richard Allan

Jan 8, 2021 | Latest News

In our latest blog, we caught up with Richard Allan, from the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners to ‘Meet the Harbour Master’. We sat down with him to find out more about his role, the function of the CHC and the work he’s doing to tackle waterway issues.

Who are the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners?

For those who may not be familiar with the CHC, they work to maintain and orchestrate safe navigation within the Cattewater. This is achieved by maintaining navigation marks and lights, as well as surveying and dredging the channels. In addition, they provide pilotage services and traffic regulation. As Plymouth is home to a large and busy port, the CHC play an integral role in the management of the waterways.

Read on to ‘Meet the Harbour Master’ and learn more about the work the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners do.

Meet the Harbour Master

What does your role involve?

The Harbour Master has a number of duties and roles to satisfy when managing a Port. The primary role is to ensure the safety of navigation, the security of the harbour and to meet our environmental commitments.

The Harbour is a great space, used by many stakeholders for many purposes, and it is important all use the water in a safe manner. Regulations are in place to regulate water use, which are enforced accordingly when necessary.

What do the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners do?

The Cattewater Harbour Commissioners exist by Act of Parliament as the navigation and conservancy authority for the Cattewater Harbour. We are also the civil pilotage authority for the Port of Plymouth.

We are a Trust Port, and have a board of Commissioners who act as the ‘Duty Holder’. To fulfil the duties of a Port we are empowered to charge ship, cargo and pilotage dues to defray costs. All commercial and leisure craft navigating or operating from the Cattewater are liable for harbour dues.

How long have you been in your role?

I have been in my role as Harbour Master for just under a year. I was the Deputy for two years before taking the position. Prior to embarking on a shore career, I was at sea with the Merchant Navy. There, I worked on various projects and on different types of vessels.

Can you tell us a little about the work you’re doing to tackle waterway issues?

We work closely with the MOD, as well as other key partners such as Devon & Cornwall Police, the Ministry of Defence Police and the local authority to ensure the water is an enjoyable space for everyone.

The collaborative approach from partners assists us by taking appropriate enforcement action if required.  Recently, we prosecuted a repeat offender who broke the speed limit by over 10 times on a PWC. Their behaviour was clearly putting their own life and the lives of other water users at risk. The costs totalled £1900 for the guilty defendant.

Meet the Harbour Master: An image of the Cattewater Harbour Commissioners office on the Barbican in Plymouth.

How are these issues being tackled?

We’re running online safety campaigns and are maintaining a presence both at sea and ashore to engage with water users. Our aim to to provide education and guidance to create a positive outcome.

Unfortunately, there are a small minority of water users who ruin the enjoyment for other users, due to irresponsible behaviour. With this in mind, we’ve recently issued a SUP code of conduct. This is located on every access point to the Cattewater. It can also be found at local businesses and on our website. 

Meet the Harbour Master: An image of the Cattewater, taken from Mount Batten in Plymouth.

What impact do you hope this work will have on the waterways and the perception of jet ski users?

We welcome all water users within the Cattewater, including PWC when operated sensibly and in a safe manner. The noise of some PWC’s and attitudes and actions of a small minority have tarnished the perception of PWC users in recent years. However, I would hope the positive engagement and effort we have had over the last 12-24 months will result in a safer shared water space for all.

How does the future look for jet ski users in Plymouth?

A number of RYA accredited training schools are now operating within the Cattewater, and going forward we hope to introduce a PWC registration throughout the Port.

We’re working closely with the national bodies, local RYA approved PWC trainers and PWC organisations. We hope together the positive work will continue, and in turn, the perception can be improved going forward.

Stay in Touch!

Our jet ski safaris will launch in the Spring, ahead of the warm weather and the Summer season. In the meantime, you can pre-book your jet ski safari experience online to beat the crowds! If you’re interested in a team-building event, group booking or a stag/hen do with us, please contact us directly to discuss your requirements. You can call us on 07860 898740 or email us through our contact form.

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