An End to Surfing at Freshwater Bay?

If Dick Downes gets his way then it could be the end to surfing at Freshwater Bay, Dick is proposing the building of a harbour and has arranged a public meeting on Sunday the 25th September at The Sandpipers Hotel. Very ironic being that the Sandpipers Hotel is the home to the Wight Surf History’s first exhibition, a selection of images of modern day surfing on the Isle of Wight, (90% of which are of Freshwater Bay).

I believe Freshwater Bay to be one of the best breaks in the country, at least on the south coast. Surfers on the Island have been very influential in surfing in this country and worldwide. If you have kept up with some of the work I have posted here you would have seen the stories of Tad Ciastula of Vitamin Sea surfboards and of another very well known shaper Roger Cooper. I know many of my friends, including myself grew up riding Roger and Tad’s boards. Derek Thompson who invented one of the first professionally made leashes. These guys all grew up surfing Freshwater Bay.

In recent years we have had Zoe Sheath, a British Junior Champion, Johnny Fryer current British Champion and Alan Reed who is leading the British Longboard Masters series. The Isle of Wight Surf Club are also hosting the South Coast Surfing Championships here on the Island and I know that all the competitors will be hoping that the waves are big enough for the competition to be held at Freshwater Bay. Many surfers come to the Island especially in hope of surfing Freshwater Bay.

Freshwater Bay was originally surfed over 40 years a go by the then British Champion Rodney Sumpter who became the Isle of Wight Surf Club’s honorary president. Surfers who were there at the time say Rod said that Freshwater Bay was the best point break on the south of England.

Dick says on his poster that the harbour wall would have a low enough profile so not to spoil the view. Has he not seen the waves in the Freshwater Bay before. Just have a look at the shot below with Joe Truman from last winter. Joe isn’t the tallest guy and his knees are bent, so lets say in this shot he is 5ft and at the bottom of the wave and the wave is peaking at 4 times his height. This was a day when the waves were rideable. I have lived just up the road from Freshwater Bay since 1999 and surfed here since 1982 and I have seen much bigger waves close out across the Bay when it was unrideable.

Surfing brings income to the Island, through the shops, camp sites, holiday homes, hotels, learning to surf and much much more. My last two posts show local children learning to surf, you only have to look at their faces to see how much fun they are having.

I would like to encourage as many of you as possible to make sure you go to this meeting and voice your opinion on this. We cannot let one of the best point breaks in the country be turned into a harbour.


Below I have typed up what it says on the poster in case you are unable to read it.

A Freshwater Bay Harbour?


A few years ago, there was a storm that was not very well forecast, leading to some boats in Freshwater Bay sinking at their moorings.

I thought then that with two natural arms across the entrance of the bay, with the channel deepened for the salvage of the “Carl”, it would be relatively easy to create a small harbour here.

When researching the history of this, I was surprised to learn that about 50 (?) years ago, the Council offered the locals a choice of a breakwater to protect the road, or,….. a harbour! I find it difficult to believe how the choice was made, or even if the story was true, but I have been told that at least one local has a copy of the plan for the proposed harbour?

I think there is a case for a harbour to be built today.

The advantages as I see it would be as follows………………………..

  1. Shelter for local boats
  2. Would provide protection for the Albion Hotel
  3. Make launching the Lifeboat a lot easier in rough conditions
  4. Provide a “Harbour of Refuge” for small boats caught out in storms that would make the Needles Channel dangerous
  5. The West Wight economy is pretty dire. Building the Harbour (which would be carried out in the winter “off Season” period
  6. Also, when built, there would be employment opportunities for small fishing and pleasure boats, a couple of passenger launches doing trips to the Needles, and other marine activities
  7. Increased activity in the area, with a busy harbour, would draw more tourists to the area, adding to the income of pubs, hotels, etc…

The only downside I see would be the loss of the Western arm of the current bay to surfers, who use it occasionally.

Provided the two arms of the harbour wall have a low enough profile, it should not spoil the view.

While I am sure a government and/or EU grant could be found toward the cost, (which will be substantial), I think it would be nice if it was built by the Isle of Wight locals, rather than a big firm that would cream off the profits rather than keep it in local hands.

What we don’t want is a cock up like the Ventnor harbour, which, for its size, and what it cost, to my mind was a complete waste of money!

There will be a meeting held in the Sandpipers Hotel on Sunday 25th at 7pm to see if there is enough interest locally to take this forward.


 By (Dick Downes….phone 740712)

51 Responses to “An End to Surfing at Freshwater Bay?”

  1. Pacey says:

    Over My dead body Dick! It will Totally ruin the whole place!

  2. robin whitehead says:

    As i see it there are several serious flaws to this plan.

    1, as a young lad I have played dodge the wave, behind the Albion. when the winter storms hit a low wall would not be protection, nor would it be in some of the summer ones that I have witnessed. the effect on any sea wall can be seen by looking at the remains of the war time one under fort redoubt.

    2, after witnessing the construction of the new Ventnor haven, this would need to be constructed in the calmer summer months.

    3, the new harbour would not hold an increased fishing fleet as the government are currently trying to scrap the whole fleet(under 10m class) as Dick will be more that aware of and put protective status on the fishing grounds along the back of the wight. any ways the cost of building one would not be offset by any revenue generated in mooring fees.

    having snorkeled and swum in the bay for a large number of years any wall would nee to run across the bridge which runs across the mouth of the bay and would take out the reefs on both sides used as nursery grounds for various fish and invertebrate species. this would have a large visual impact, though agreed it would make launching of the inshore life boat easier

  3. Neal Gent says:

    I grew up on the isle of wight and learnt to surf some thirty years ago-i’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world in search of great surfing conditions, but Freshwater rates as one of the best surfing waves on it’s day. It would be a disaster to ruin this world class surfing landmark to provide a seawall and room for a few summer moorings.
    in answer to the suggested points
    1. local boats have access to multiple safer harbours and moorings just ten minutes away on the north side of the island, which is not regularly exposed to swell and wind from the channel
    2. i’m not sure how long the albion has been there, but the current wall and the natural reef which we appreciate so much seem to be doing as perfectly good job of looking after the shoreline so far?
    3. the lifeboat does have a rough time launching on those rare days, but does mr downes have any evidence that it would not prove equally difficult to get it out of a small harbour entrance in a big storm? and are there regular occasions when the crew can’t launch when they need?
    4. any small boat owner ‘caught in a storm’ would have to be crazy to head for a south facing coast and a small harbour entrance surrounded by cliffs and reefs when just around the needles are loads of safe moorings. you just need to look at the number of wrecks along the south coast of the island to see that
    5. winter construction of a protective harbour from the winter storms??
    6. if the market existed for passenger trips etc in the summer months then someone would already be running a boat out of the bay-it’s safe to moor there in the summer already
    7. surely sticking a concrete wall across one of the most beautiful bays on the south coast is going to decrease the reasons for people to come and see it-maybe you should be promoting what the bay does best naturally with no added cost to the council. which local hotels and pubs are you referring to?

    leave it alone mr downes-this might seem a good idea to you but you’re plan is only going to ruin a natural wonder that just happens to provide a world class surfing wave enjoyed my a large number of local and visiting surfers, and a beautiful bay enjoyed my thousands of tourists, not to mention the locals.

  4. Tony Savage says:

    I’ve seen waves break over the sea wall at Appley and that is one of the calmest parts of the Island’s coast.

    a sea wall that doesn’t spoil the view would offer no shelter in a storm and, as Robin says, the impact on the ecology of the bay would be disastrous.
    if this is, as so many other plans like it, turns out to be a failure, it would be near impossible to repair that damage and we’d have a useless sea wall, no fish in the bay, no surfers coming to the island on holiday and no Islanders representing the Island and the UK in competitions.

  5. Paintz says:

    All i can say is that a harbour will ruin freshwater bay.
    The place is picturesque and a great place to grow up and surf, totally against the idea and sure you will get plenty of support.
    Currently don’t live on the IOW anymore but enjoy surfing so much and will never forget my roots and probably the best wave on its day in par with Chilton and Niton.
    This guy will get consultants involved and splash the money trying to get this through, but my god you don’t know what protests are going to come your way dude.
    I’m in complete agreement with all the points raised by Dr Neil Gent.
    Join the protest and stop this happening people.

  6. Vanessa says:

    If a thing isn’t broken why try “fixing” it? I couldn’t surf to save my life but I enjoy watching the wonders of nature and the joy and exhilaration of people’s interaction with them. The sight of someone attempting to move in harmony with the energy of the waves has got to be more fulfilling and worthwhile than the sight of something natural cluttered up with man made structures on the offchance that this “project” might somehow “improve” things. The appreciation of the power of what we have is surely so much better than any pathetic attempt to “tame” it and bring it down to our puny level?!

  7. jennifer says:

    This is one of the most stupid ideas a suit has come up with so far for the I.O.W.

  8. jason says:

    Great to see so many responses here and on the ‘isle of wight surf club’ facebook page explaining exactly why this is such a ridiculous idea that just hasn’t been thought through properly. I f you think its only an occasional surfer who would object to the destruction of a genuine natural wonder, you have another thing coming.

  9. Alan Reed says:

    Unbelievable DICK, unthinkable, unworkable and under massive opposition. Go and look at Colwell Bay, it’s the perfect site for you to ruin if you feel you have to ruin another piece of our coast DICK.

  10. Thomas Lawal-Rieley says:

    I can see no justification for such brutal interference with such an area of outstanding natural beauty. I am a local surfer, but loss of the surf break aside, we cannot stand back and see such a stunning place marred by such human interference.

    These are a few of my Thoughts on ‘the advantages’ as seen by Dick Downes. We have to ask what are the true motives for this proposal?

    ‘1)Shelter for local boats’
    – How have local boats managed up until now?

    ‘2)Would provide protection for the Albion Hotel’
    – You have got to be kidding me – is this even relevant?

    ‘3)Make launching the Lifeboat a lot easier in rough conditions’
    – Perhaps it will, but can this one possible advantage justify ruining the aesthetics and ecology of this marvellous Bay.

    ‘4) Provide a “Harbour of Refuge” for small boats caught out in storms that would make the Needles Channel dangerous’
    – What have they done in the past? Would the attempted passage during a storm into a Harbour placed in such an exposed area not be perilous anyway?

    ‘5)The West Wight economy is pretty dire. Building the Harbour (which would be carried out in the winter months…’
    -Perhaps this would provide a one-off work opportunity for local contractors; that is if locals did actually end up getting the contract. Highly unlikely to take place during winter months though. Still not a good argument for spoiling the Bay.

    6)Also, when built, there would be employment opportunities for small fishing and pleasure boats…
    – This exists elsewhere and is not what Freshwater Bay is about.

    7)Increased activity in the area, with a busy harbour, would draw more tourists to the area…
    – The beauty of Freshwater Bay is that it is NOT a busy Harbour; there are plenty of those elsewhere! This is an area of peace, tranquility and outstanding natural beauty and that is what makes it a draw for many visitors.

  11. Alan Reed says:

    Maybe Dick needs to put on a wetsuit and paddle out on a good day. It would show him why we go and teach him a little respect for nature.

  12. I think this proposal is a rather ridiculous one.
    The proposal is so laughable I wouldn’t have been surprised if the IOW council had thought of it.

    I don’t think has much support or financial backing but just to reiterate points already made & respond to points made by Dick:

    1.Shelter for local boats – common sense would say head to the north side of the island – alum bay or yarmouth, sheltered from prevailing SW winds

    2.Would provide protection for the Albion Hotel – the Albon has survived quite alright so far.

    3.Make launching the Lifeboat a lot easier in rough conditions- again, so far done ok. Maybe the boat is in the wrong place anyway.

    4.Provide a “Harbour of Refuge” for small boats caught out in storms that would make the Needles Channel dangerous – again, common sense would say head to the north of the ISland.

    5.The West Wight economy is pretty dire. employment opportunities etc. – Im sure a harbour with a capacity of a few boats isnt going to change this.
    Alum bay already offers pleasure cruises.
    These cruises could be offered with temporary jetty/walkway

    6.Increased activity in the area – just see ventnor harbour…. room for a few small dorys not much more – a white elephant at best.

  13. Rob Hearn says:

    Freshwater bay does not need a marina!! I’m always stunned by it’s beauty and perfection as I drive down that hill. It would be ruined if this proposal is considered!! So many people have told me that the bay has the best wave on the Island when it’s working and to take that away would be to foolish to say the least!

  14. kitesurferjem says:

    Lets not forget Bournmouth have just spent a small fortune trying to create a reef which isnt even close to FWB break – this break is a major tourist attraction and asset for Islanders and is one of only a handful of good breaks on the Island –

    This scheme shouldn’t be allowed to gather momentum – somebody find a newt! or protected species to protect seems to be the way these days to stop developments…

    Form a working group ‘Society for the Protection of IOW Surf Breaks’ SPISB or something to:

    Protect Island surf breaks from development and distraction.
    Work to get all Island Breaks listed or protected.
    Continue to work with land owners to continue or improve access to breaks

    good luck…

  15. Tom Wilson says:

    A plan is put forward & will be challenged till dropped as the comments above testify,.

    Legally / logically / financially. I can’t see this going through with previous ventures alone including Niton (one mistake & a ruined site.) Ventnor (which although the harbour is tiny) was in conjunction with other issues such as island waste (which wasn’t handled properly either was it. Where is the total screening?)

    A man made intrusion into freshwater bay would be disastrous for all the ecological / financial / tourism / sport reasons already raised,.

    He is also ignoring the fact that nature is slowly taking out the back of the island,. every winter we lose a little more land.

    The bay is no different,. Add a man made structure like that & you will encourage the loss of Tennyson down & the damage to the broken cliffs toward compton would be severe,. Result major loss of tourism & historical site,. How can you justify that?

    I hope this “idea” doesn’t see the light of day I will endeavour to make this “idea” more widely known among the global population.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention & good luck at the meeting. I do hope to attend & lend my support to opposing this “idea”.

  16. […] Wight Surf History Website published an article yesterday highlighting the meeting. Concerned at the loss of what British […]

  17. Alex Lambie says:

    Though I am sure that Mr Downes’ suggestion is well intentioned, I am afraid that it does not stand up to interrogation. All that needs to be said on the matter is shown in the points made by Neal Gent and Robin Whitehead above and I stand strongly behind their comments.

    There is no economic, social or environmental benefit from the suggestion that can possibly validate the environmental, social and economic cost of the exercise, and that is before you take into account the value of Freshwater Bay as a surf spot. The Isle of Wight is creating surf champions and this would take away one of the best waves in Southern England. Surfing provides an activity for all ages, but is particularly attractive to a youth scene. Young lads and lasses keeping fit, developing a deep understanding of and respect for nature. If you take away their waves what will you give them in return? A zip slide in the local park? Do me a favour.

    It ain’t broke, don’t fix it. On the contrary, its perfect, so leave it alone.

  18. Jo Blackley says:

    I wonder if Dick owns much property in Freshwater Bay and is hoping that a development such as this will push up property prices?? Good news for second home owners/ landlords etc but bad news for locals trying to buy homes…………….

  19. Having heard about this ridiculous idea now living on the other side of the world, it fill’s me with anger and sadness to hear of the threatened distruction of yet another wave – in such a wave starved area. Having started surfing on the island around 1992, the ‘Bay’ has always been a place of legend, and as mentioned is a pretty decent break. How many surfer’s have uttered ‘ have you checked the bay?’?
    Older generation IoW surfers constantly lament the loss of Niton, and the so called protection of the coastline there – clearly a right mess in all senses now. Harbour protection was one of the aim’s there too, for all 5 fishing boats.
    Whilst surfing is considered to be the main loser in this story, divers, kayaker’s and swimmers enjoy Freshwater all year round, and obviously those that never enter the sea will lose an iconic view. It remains one of my favorite swimming spots due to the clear water, caves to explore, and is pretty free of polution due to the constant current. Imagine a murky, seaweed filled harbour much like Ventnor’s ‘haven’, and the loss of a marine habitat that is pretty unique. Is ‘Neal’ the seal still hanging around?
    How many fishing boats are there at the bay anyway, 10, 20, 30, more like 5!
    I’d imagine Dick is old enough to still believe that surfers are a degenerate bunch, who have sea’weed’ for brains. Perhaps with the surfer demographic having changed so much in recent times, a peaceful and well informed protest will ensue that reflects the intelligence, diversity and enviromental sensitivity that modern day surfer’s possess.
    It’s pretty amusing to suggest that the job’s created for one winters work would contribute anything like as much money as the tourists that flock to the bay would generate – maybe its time to sort the land out before the sea, as the natural features of the Bay are its greatest quality – the buildings and services available there are woefully inadequate and unattractive. A tacky wishing well, horribly dated shelters/seating spring to mind. Given the detrimental effect on tourism this project could have, Dick could find donations for his lifeboat disappear, heralding an ironic end to the lifeboat itself.
    Also Dick, remember your lifeboat isn’t an official RNLI lifeboat. Whilst we all appriceate the safety that you may bring, don’t forget the Yarmouth lifeboat can launch in any sea’s, with far superior capabilities.
    With the current economic climate, I think Dick is the one with sea’weed’ for brains, and unless he has deep pockets this seems like a pipe-dream.
    Good luck fella’s, my thoughts and support are with you all,
    Aroha nui, Swinny

  20. pacey says:

    So glad with all the response to this Ridiculous idea, An area of outstanding natural beauty would be destroyed for god knows what reson! I Can’t understand Why so many people want to ruin our Island! Also this is one of the best breaks in England when it works, another Natural beauty!….Don’t mess with Nature Dick!

  21. paul-wsh says:

    Thank you everyone for taking time to respond to this ridiculous proposal. We cannot let another surf break and beautiful bay be destroyed by property developers.

    I have just had an email from Surfers Against Sewage to say they are supporting the campaign to protect the waves at Freshwater Bay.

  22. Dave says:

    Is April 1st on a different day on the iow to west Australia?
    As an ex brook bay basher now living in west oz, i,m not sure dick has appreciated how much people enjoy good spots. Near where I live we are losing a place called oakagee which is a top wave sailing and surf spot to a 5 billion au$ iron ore port. We are pissed off, but most understand the economic benefit to the region. Not sure losing freshwater bay break is going to create economic benefit commensurate to the loss. It’s not going to happen.

  23. I’ve been a frequent tourist visitor to Isle of Wight over the last thirty years. It was tales of surf at Freshwater Bay that first lured me there. I found both friends and the most natural of open bays in the same vicinity. Yes the waves are infrequent, but I will always remember that sunny February morning, just two of us out riding, as 8ft waves peeled across the whole bay.
    We’ve got harbours a plenty in Cornwall where I come from. You’ve got plenty of sheltered anchorages on the other 50% of your island’s coastline.
    It might shelter boats, but it’ll be a death threat unless you lock the quays to human access during strong swell conditions.
    Leave it as it is.Do’nt snub the waves. Your tourist credit will stay higher. Possibly no boats will sink. The local and the tourist surfers, like me, will all be happier for that ocassional gift of waves travelling to Freshwater from open ocean to break unmolested by concrete and stone.

  24. Rob Packham says:

    Others have made the objections well but I will add a comment about “Harbour of Refuge” for small boats caught out in storms that would make the Needles Channel dangerous.
    The prevailing storms are from the SW and the Needles Channel can be deadly in some states of wind and tide. HOWEVER a small boat would make for the North Channel (along the Hurst Point shore)or east about the Island to avoid the Needles Channel. Good seamanship would say – never run in a storm to a small bay with reefs and small harbour entrance on a lee shore.
    The rationale for the harbour on this basis does not add up.

  25. Chris Jones says:

    Agreed – crazy idea. I have no idea where these people’s heads are at. ‘unforeseen storms’ is a ridiculous premise for development, kinda like saying ‘unforeseen sea’ or, ‘unforeseen nature’. The unforeseen continues to be a variable no development in this world can seek to curb, yet people’s passion, enjoyment for a place and it’s natural beauty would be curbed following such developments.

  26. Aaron Rodgers says:

    If Mr Downes genuinely thought that this project would be beneficial to, or accepted by, the locals and many repeat visitors then he is clearly mistaken and I’m sure he’ll realise this once he has seen the strong arguments against such a plan……One gets the feeling however that personal gain may be on the agenda?

    If that’s the case then I hope he has a plan B because I can’t see this coming to fruition. Perhaps Freshwater Down would look good with a runway on it – just in case light aircraft got caught out in stormy weather?

    Lets do the right thing for once and leave nature to it – its done well enough so far.

  27. David Motkin says:

    I watched them building the wall in 1952 – knocking in sheet piling and pouring concrete. A noisy and messy job which spoiled the area quite a lot but at least it stopped the sea breaking through. This idea would ruin the bay completely and signal the end of West Wight as an attractive and “quiet” area. I can’t see it getting past the AONB and Maritime Coast hurdles though.

  28. edd thompson says:

    Edd calling DICK, I’m so angry at the moment I’m shaking, who are you? as you drive down and see the bay and the white cliffs as its been for … one knows really how long, how could you even think of is destroying this piece of heaven, you must have no heart what so ever (just another money grabing parasite who lives his live with blinkers on)
    The solent is the place for harbours not the back of the wight. We will fight you DICK I will be there on sunday so I can see you with my own eyes.
    Edd Thompson.

  29. The Bear says:

    Utterly bloody bonkers on so many levels. One question … Who the hell will pay for this, and why?!? Not my tax dollars, that’s or sure!

  30. helen mccarty says:

    Helen Mccarty this can only be stopped if people turn up on sunday night and show how against the ridiculous idea they are. our 4 children reguarly go to the bay fishing and rock pooling and are just starting to surf, THIS IS THEIR FUTURE ENVIROMENT BEING MESSED WITH !!!! Please show up at the meeting.

  31. Hi

    Non surfer, so not sure if this is the right place to make a comment.

    I realise that there is an importance to being able to launch a life boat in rough weather, however having worked on a number of small commercial fishing boats around the Island there would be little chance of the In Shore rescue getting out the harbor mouth during rough weather. In many ways it would depend on which direction the wind is coming from. The other benefits that the gentlemen suggest are limited, to protect a commercial enterprise. To offer a safe refuge for small boats, again that would depend on the direction of the weather and what nutcase would be out in that sort of weather, they should not be allowed to own a boat.

    But my main reason for writing is the ecology issue relating to the Seahorses that reside in and around the reef at Freshwater. I refer the gentleman to the following Act of Parliament.

    Protection for Spiny and Short-snouted Seahorses was added to the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) in 2008. This protection means that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly harm or disturb any seahorse. They are protected against killing, injuring or taking; possession or control; damage or destruction of their places of shelter, or disturbance while such animals are occupying places of shelter and sale, possession or transport for the purpose of sale, and advertising the buying or selling of such animals.

    Over the years there have been many reported sightings of seahorse around and in Freshwater Bay. So I suggest the gentleman puts his harbor idea somewhere else.

    As a footnote any changes to the structure around Freshwater cliffs would disrupt the coast work and sea defense that DEFRA have put in place.

    So the gentleman’s concept would appear to have no concept of the impacts to the natural environment and the coast line along the south west Wight. I have to wonder for who’s benefit he is suggesting this for?


  32. Phil Skelley says:

    I can’t imagine summers without snorkelling into the caves and checking out the fish. Winters would lose one of the best spots I’ve surfed in the uk. Harbours seem a good place to collect rotting seaweed, coke bottles and takeaway containers not really that conducive to tourism.
    Not sure how serious this plan is but hope it’s short lived.

  33. Michael says:

    Mr Downes, what are your real reasons for this harbour?
    Good to see a ludicrous idea like this stripped to its ugly bones in just a few comments.
    Roll on sunday, show your face and voice your concerns.

  34. paul-wsh says:

    Surfers Against Sewage published it on their website, facebook, twitter with a quote from Johnny Fryer and have sent out a press release to all the major surf magazines Carve, Wavelength, Drift, TSP etc…

  35. paul-wsh says:

    I have also had an email from the Isle of Wight AONB Partnership.

    Mr Downes has not contacted the AONB Partnership seeking pre application advice and consultation.

    Freshwater Bay is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats directive 92/43/EEC.

    The east half of it is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended).

    It is also within the Tennyson Heritage Coast area as well as the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

    The Islands Shoreline Management Plan identifies the management of Freshwater Bay , identified as zone 6 of the plan as: hold the existing defence line.

  36. Tom Court says:

    There are so many reasons as to why this is a terrible idea, I think it almost goes beyond common sense to take such a proposal seriously but i suppose if anything this ludicrous is possible then the Isle of Wight is probably the place that it could happen…

    Needless to say I/we are against the idea totally and Official complaints shall be submitted accordingly!

    You think ‘dick’ has even swam in the sea before? Building a ‘low profile’ sea wall isnt going to do anything to stop the 20ft winter swells…except ruin the view and make it harder for the lifeboat to get out!

    Dick needs his screen waxed!


  37. Jo Blackley says:

    If Dick Downes, property developer, wants to do something to revitalise The Bay, increase tourism and improve the local economy he should focus his efforts on doing something about the Albion Hotel and cafe, which are closed for a rather extended ‘winter’. They are both in prime locations to provide excellent facilities for tourists and locals but the current owners seem disinterested in The Bay.

    His other idea is clearly a non-starter so if his motivation is really all about whats best for the area, refocus.

  38. Len Parker says:

    Don’t panic because for various reasons mentioned in previous posts , this idea is clearly never going to happen. I’m glad it has invoked a passionate response though …

  39. Jamie Isaac says:

    What is it with property developers and their poor efforts to mask personal greed up as a concern for local economy?!
    Beyond the fact that this will destroy an incredible surf spot, I can also only imagine the devastation that will occur regarding the marine life not to mention the beautiful scenery, turning into a drab tourism choking concrete slab!
    I hope that the Island authorities have enough sense to quash this idea before it destroys another gem of not just Island standards, but a place that on any given day can be as dramatic and stunning as anywhere in Europe!

  40. Sid Pitman says:

    One thing that seems to come to my mind is that freshwater bay is flushed out by the tidal actions on a daily basis, and any offshore barrier that interfers with this action is going to lead to an enormous cesspool,similar to the mistakes make at ventnor harbour but fifty times worse. anyone that has experience of using the bay is aware of the deep section inside of where the boats are moored that regulary collects the flotsome and even with the twice daily tide change,this is slow to clear,so if Mr Downes wishes to make a great stink this is the best way to do it as well as ruining the most beautiful bay on the island.

  41. James Ranson says:

    I think the volume of comments left here quickly identify how strong the opposition to this project will be.

    I think Neal pretty much summed up my feelings half hours reading ago I will add the following:

    I’m sure many people will agree that Freshwater bay would benefit from some form of regeneration and as an Island which thrives on its sailing industry I can see how this idea may seem reasonable to some. However, this is NOT the way forward. We have many suitable areas for sailors both on the north and east of the Island.

    What we need are better facilities for tourists at our most spectacular beaches. With little hope of anything but an ice cream van and two grotty toilets at Compton, surely we should focus our efforts (and any available grant money!) in helping local business’ build better facilities for tourists and locals alike at Freshwater bay. These facilities should aim to complement the spectacular natural features of the bay NOT change the very scenery that draws us there in the first place.

    People travel to our Island to visit our fantastic coast line and Freshwater Bay stands proud as one of the most picaresque bays we have. Do not change the very thing that brings people there in the first place!

    Mr Downes, as an Island resident I’m sure that you are aware that Island people are passionate about their island. What I think is clear however is that you obviously don’t know anyone that surfs! How many people do you know that would get up in the dark and trudge through the snow to go in the sea? This is the kind of commitment that is required to be a surfer on the Island. It is this commitment or madness depending on how you view us that bands us together as a community. If you continue with this proposal then to say you will need to be prepared for strong opposition would be a major understatement.

    James Ranson

  42. RAFF says:

    Very well put by everyone. Its a stupid idea at best.Gotta love Mr Downes and his flippant and quite funny comment which shows a true ignorance towards surfing and surfers…

    “The only downside I see would be the loss of the Western arm of the current bay to surfers, who use it occasionally.”

    Yes Mr Downes we use it on the occasional time when the waves are good, and then it becomes one of only a handful of waves on the south coast that can handle such a swell.

    I think everyone above has made a concise argument against and i concur !


  43. Benjie says:

    As I posted on Ventnor Blog

    +15 Benjie says:
    20, September 2011 (3 days ago) at 8:07 pm
    1. If local boats require shelter then they can be drawn out of the water as & when needed.

    2.Maybe the Albion Hotel could fund their own sea wall, the sea was there before they were.

    3.Saying our lifeboat men are wimps????

    4.If the Needles Channel is “dangerous” then there is always Swanage, Poole & the Northern Solent shore to take refuge. If any sailor cannot make these ports, then surely Yarmouth lifeboat can attend?

    5.Build a seawall “off season”? Preposterous!! The prevailing winter wind is S’Wly & that would wash any jetty/wall/pontoon/piling barge up on the beach at Compton (if they’re lucky) but most likely at the foot of Stag Rock…

    6. If the back of the Wight has survived without the requirement of a harbour for this long, why, suddenly, should one be built now?
    Any sailor worth his name knows that the place is a graveyard for boats and should not be navigated in the winter months. History tells us this. No real permanent jobs can be gained, only those in-season & we all know how long that lasts.

    7.The harbour at Ventnor hasn’t exactly lit the place up, has it?? Sorry Ventnor,no hard feelings from me but you are the only example we have of what is being suggested.

    As for the government/EU grant, just pie-in-the-sky………

    Sourced from:
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Share Alike”

  44. Jamie Richards says:

    I don’t think Dick has done his research properly. The fact that the proposed harbour would destroy one of the best waves in the South of England is unlikely to be at the top of any planning officer’s list of concerns, however there are so many other factors which make the idea ridiculous.

    The NEGATIVE impact on the economy would be significant. We’ve all seen the posters on the ferries, the leaflets in tourist information offices etc. advertising the island to tourists, and what photo is it every time? Freshwater bay of course. If the idea goes ahead it risks destroying the very thing that draws tourists to the Isle of Wight. And as for improving the West Wight’s economy by providing a harbour for boats doing Needles pleasure cruises – this would simply draw half the business away from Alum bay and do nothing for the economy. It’s not like tourists are going to want to do 2 different needles cruises on their trip to the island.

    The protection of fishing boats is a valid point but realistically how does the value of the few small fishing boats which are kept in the bay compare to the money brought to the island each year by tourism?

    I also do not believe the idea will receive a great deal of support from the yachting community. My father (olympic sailing medallist) laughed at the idea, saying you can’t build a harbour every two miles along the coast to protect people who don’t know what they’re doing and go sailing when they shouldn’t. It’s not like you would expect them to put a lifeguard on every beach in case someone who couldn’t swim decided to try it in a storm.

    The environmental impact of the proposal obviously speaks for itself. Freshwater bay is an incredible place to dive and it’s not just seahorses (which I have personally seen at the bay) which would suffer if the scheme went ahead. The undeveloped nature of the South West of the Island is THE main attraction to the island for most non Cowes Week tourists. There is no way this proposal can be approved.

    If you want to attract more people to the bay a far more reasonable approach would be to do something about the backwash from the sea wall so that the wave would work at all tides and promote the bay for surfing and diving. Apart from being better for the environment and considerably cheaper to implement, this would draw people to the bay at all times of year not just for July and August.

    There aren’t that many surfers on the island, and our concerns about the wave will probably be ignored, but there aren’t that many fishing boats in the bay or people out there who would benefit from this scheme going ahead (apart from Mr Downes of course), and I just can’t see anyone coming up with the vast sums of money required to do it.

  45. Jeremy says:

    The Granville Fritillary flourishes on the cliffs here at Freshwater Bay – see

    What would this industrialisation do to this protected species. . . I’m no butterfly expert but I’m sure it would need to be addressed. Someone should look into it. 🙂

  46. robin whitehead says:

    Dick is one of the local fisherman and uses a property just off afton road to store his gear.

    He is more that aware of the conditions off the bay.

    I can see two reasons why he would want a harbour and his suggestion that this would enable pleasure craft to take trips to the needles, the first is that after seeing the added benefit that Geoff Blake has had from the Ventnor haven Dick wants a slicr of the pie where he can get to his traditional grounds quicker in the winter months as Freshwater Bay is closer than Yarmouth Harbour. Secondly if the government do ban fishing off the back of the wight he can start taking day trippers out to the needles alot easier and safer than now.

  47. lindsay says:

    Please delete the other entries I previously made as didnt realise they had been actually placed on the page before I finished thanks.

    Part of the overners’ attraction to the West Wight is its natural character and its associated gentle rolling, rural ambience; plus the fact that for the most part it has not been ‘man-handled’ as other parts of The Island have been over the years.

    There are enough yacht moorings at Yarmouth and Ventnor. The need for these is going to decrease not increase in the present economic climate.

    However the argument for local jobs of course is raised. Yes in the short term there may be jobs for local builders and ‘lads’; funding no doubt being sought from Private Funding Initiatives (PFI) plus or minus lottery/EU or matched finance.

    How much does it cost annually now to keep Freshwater Bay, promenade area and car parks in its present minimal impact state? After harbour building, who will be responsible for the ongoing upkeep costs as the next 50 to 100 years pass by? Ie; the crumbling, rusting and tatty reinforced concrete, unpainted metal work etc? It will all fall to the local council and ultimately ‘The Island’ people; who will pay, through increased council taxes. It would better serve local people and benefit a greater number of tourists for locals to pay for…. say the better repair and proper upkeep of the present coastal paths from the Needles and Newtown.

    There is the world of difference between the words need and want. The natural beauty of Freshwater Bay is part of our local heritage if anyone makes a ‘mess up’; it then it will be too late, it is not needed even if a few do want it.

    There also would have to be scientific expertise sought from an un-biased marine biologist as to the potential ecological impact.

    Freshwater Bay needs no enhancing; prominent and renowned people such as Tennyson, Cameron, Priestly and others couldn’t get enough of the place.

    A harbour at Freshwater Bay will become another Wight Elephant; in fact it has even less benefit than the fictitiously previously proposed rebuilding the ‘Arched Rock’.

    Some Questions and comments regarding Mr Ds 6 points
    1. How many local boats actually need protection? When I was a kid Mr P (fisherman) used to moor elsewhere in the winter. When was this quoted storm and how often over recent years have local people actually lost their craft in Freshwater Bay ? What about personal responsibility for listening to the shipping forecast.
    2. The Albion does not need public money spending on it.
    3. You’ll have to ask the present crew about the reality of this supposition.
    4. As above re weather the forecast
    5. And 6 my thoughts are in my comments above and does Mr ‘D’ own or have shares in pub,hotel or in development by any chance.

    With regard to building in the winter…. I have to laugh out loud.

    P.S. Were notices put up elsewhere, was there anything in the Beacon or County Press in good time regarding this meeting?
    There is no date on the notice to show how long it has been there and to inform people in plenty of time to enable them to attend?

    It really might make more sense to put the unwanted wind farm in the Bay if people are looking for a financial return on an investment or looking for nonsensical gravy train projects for EU grant money.

    Signed Lindsay (guitarwoman) and no I am not a surfer.

  48. Cliff Davies says:

    I think it is a shame that the residents did not like the idea, Freshwater Bay I think is widely recognized as a jewel of the South West coast. It has a strong cultural and historical heritage which contributes to its liberal economy, however, due to the Bay’s relatively remote geographical location, poor transport infrastructure, and limitations on available land and property its potential economic development is being constrained, particularly if the Military road falls in the sea!!! then it will be very remote, so perhaps that’s want the residents want…

  49. lindsay says:

    Strange how many ventnor blog entries have been ‘moderated’ off the site during the last 24 hrs.Including mine which was same as above.
    Lindsay(guitarwoman) Again not a surfer but do have silver hair. 😉

  50. Sarah says:

    I am not a surfer but someone who is upset by this proposal and has been trying to find out if the Bays Conservation/SSSI/AONB status mentioned above by paul-wsh on 20 Sep will actually protect it from development or not? With all this special status can anyone explain why this can still be happening? My last posting on the Ventnor blog to ask this seems to be awaiting moderation for some reason.

  51. Rob Pitt says:

    The West of the Wight is a unique and beautiful place thanks mainly to the fact that it has been left untouched unlike other parts of the island. The mention that a new harbour would attract more visitors and bring in more money is why I am against it being built. Not everything in life is about money so please just appreciate the areas natural beauty and leave it alone. There are enough tourists that invade the island during the summer months and most weekends but we shouldn’t always pander to their needs. Please respect the desires of the locals who live on the island beacause it has not yet been fully commercialised like the mainland.The islands popularity is increasing every year thanks to the media coverage it is getting and before long it will be a second home paradise for londoners like what has happened to Devon and Cornwall. We don’t always need to be buliding new structures,houses,flats,shops etc. Sometimes just leave things as nature intended.

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