Haynes World - ships, ferries, a laugh on the ocean wave, and other interesting things...


VARNE Lightvessel 16th May 2014

VARNE Lightvessel No. 21

On 16th May 2014 I was on board BLACK WATCH, sailing south west through the English Channel and heading for the port of Southampton on the following day. I was out on deck on the port side after sunset, watching a calm sea in the twilight.

Watching from here (21.03 British Summer Time)

I then went inside to check our position on a nearby screen.

I could see we were in the Dover Straits, with France on the port side and England on our starboard side and

I went out on deck again, and then I saw VARNE.

Varne and a container ship in the background (21.13 BST)

Trinity House (www.trinityhouse.co.uk) gave me the following information:

Varne Lightvessel

Lat 51° 01.286 N Long 001° 23.897 E (not for navigation purposes)

The Varne Lightvessel marks the dangerous Varne bank, a five and three quarter mile long sand bank in the Dover Strait, lying nine miles southwest of Dover in Kent. Lying almost in the middle of the international traffic separation scheme of the English Channel, the bank is a constant concern for shipping.

In addition, our Operations and Planning Centre (OPC) in Harwich can monitor / control the lights, fog signals, racons, AIS (when operational), engine (where applicable), position monitoring, collision / bilge indications and battery voltages.

All Lightvessels report into OPC every 12 hours or whenever there is a change of state at the station. OPC can also request an update from the station.
Range (NM) Character Fog Signal
15 Fl (R) 5s (1)30s

I also found out that she was commissioned in 1962 and built for Trinity House in 1963 by Philip & Son, of Dartmouth, England. She is of riveted steel and is 40.54 metres (133 feet) long.

I often hear on BBC Radio 4 the Shipping Forecast, broadcast on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, giving details of the weather and sea conditions for waters around the coasts of the British Isles, so it was good to see VARNE, which is in the Dover area, and a unique experience for me.

Close-up picture of VARNE