Report shows Floatie will always need a push in strong tides

The Isle of Wight’s Floating Bridge 6 (FB6) will always need a boat to help push it across the River Medina during fast-flowing spring ebb tides, it has been revealed.

A near £50,000 review by consultancy, 3S, concluded no changes to the current vessel would allow it to cope with the strongest tides.

The report looks at recommendations and options for the future.

Support by a second vessel is provided by Solent and Wightline Cruises, at a cost to the Isle of Wight Council of £658,000 over three years.

The agreement is due to end next year but it has the potential to be extended.

FB6 is more than 100 tonnes heavier than its predecessor, said 3S, adding a lighter, smaller vessel would go some way towards achieving the required chain depth and resolving berthing issues.

Water depth over its chains must be maintained but to do so the consultants have revealed it would need a “radically redesigned vessel”.

The review has also found Floating Bridge 6 will not be able to make five return crossings an hour, as required, but there may be scope to streamline procedures, to increase frequency.

The Isle of Wight Council is considering its options and if it were to get an electric vessel, which is the authority’s leader’s preferred choice, it could be faster and reduce downtime, said 3S.

3S said replacing diesel motors with electric ones would reduce maintenance requirements and noise levels and eliminate the need to refuel.

3S representatives will be at the Isle of Wight Council’s corporate scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday (February 27), to give a presentation and talk more in-depth about their report.

The Cowes to East Cowes chain ferry has been plagued with problems since 2017, when it was installed on the River Medina.