Calshot Spit Light Float receives a new lease of life

The refurbished Calshot Spit Light Float The refurbished Calshot Spit Light Float

One of the Solent’s most iconic navigational aids has been given a new lease of life, thanks to ABP Southampton, writes Katina Read.

The Calshot Spit Light Float dates back to 1842, with several vessels having been used over the years to mark the navigational hazard of the Spit and aid safe passage of vessels entering Southampton Water.

The last all wood light vessel constructed for Trinity House in 1879 was LV50. Decommissioned in 1952, LV50 now serves as the clubhouse for the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, Blythe.

Other notable Calshot Spit Light Float vessels include LV78 that was decommissioned in 1987. Once out of service, LV78 was used as a static attraction at Southampton’s Ocean Village Marina before being transferred to Trafalgar Dock.

LV78 was replaced 20 years ago with a steel catamaran that has a steel lattice superstructure. The catamaran always lies with the tide, enabling pilots bringing large ships into Southampton to see the tidal stream direction.

Now, the steel superstructure has been replaced with a 6.5m tall aluminium self contained structure from aids to navigation supplier, Hydrosphere.

The superstructure contains a Vega VLB-36 6NM navigation light, a two mile omni directional fog signal, four 100W solar panels and two battery banks - one for a remotely operated fog signal and the other for the navigation light, instrumentation and control system.

Other features include an anchor ball and self contained anchor light as the lightfloat is technically classed as a ‘vessel at anchor’.

“Port operator ABP asked us to quote for a new lighter, off-the-shelf superstructure as the old one was in need of extensive repairs,” said Hydrosphere director Andy Reid. “We worked very closely with Solent Protective Coatings and PTF Engineering.

“PTF Engineering carried out the majority of the steel works, including cutting off the old superstructure, repairing and making good the old float and fitting the new superstructure to the refurbished float. SPC then applied a three coat paint system.”

“It’s now very conspicuous compared to the old steel light float and as the superstructure is constructed from aluminium, the whole structure is much more stable.”

The new light float also includes a trial Met station, a joint venture between Hydrosphere, Gill, Rock Seven and ABP, providing actual weather conditions with data transmitted every five minutes.

"Our RockFLEET tracker relays the data collected from the Maxi Met weather station over the Iridium satellite network, so although the trial Met station is inshore, it could work reliably from anywhere on the planet," explained Drew Jackson of Rock Seven. "Soon we will be making the data public allowing people to see live and historical weather data from the light vessel."

The RockFLEET is primarily a tracking device, however its ability to read data from a variety of external sensors and inputs makes it a very versatile satellite device."

The light float is in position 50 48.350'N 001 17.637'W and has a characteristic of Fl W 5s.

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