Hornet News

Portsmouth Harbour Approaches and Entrance - QHM Directive 2/17


1. Mariners are advised that the Queen’s Harbour Master has made the following General Direction under the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005; that the Portsmouth Harbour entrance and main approach channel is considered a narrow channel in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions and Sea (COLREGS) and as such, all mariners are reminded that in accordance with Rule 9(b) “a vessel of less than 20 metres in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel that can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway”.

2. Approach Channel. The dredged limits of the approach channel from the harbour entrance to Outer Spit Buoy are marked by buoys, the positions of which are shown on chart BA 2625. Within the harbour entrance the main channel is bounded on both sides by the limits of the dredged channel as shown on chart BA 2629.

3. Small Boat Channel. To assist the safe passage of small craft to and from Portsmouth Harbour a Small Boat Channel for vessels less than 20m in length including Personal Watercraft (PWC) (hereafter referred to as small boats) has been created on the western side of the harbour entrance. The 50 metre wide Small Boat Channel is shown on Admiralty charts. Its northern and southern extremities are at Ballast Pile (50 47.62N 001 06.83W) and No 4 Bar Buoy (50 46.97N 001 06.48W) respectively. Small boats are reminded that they can be difficult to see and the harbour entrance is a blind bend to larger vessels and traffic leaving the camber.

The following rules apply:

a. Small boats must enter and leave the harbour through the Small Boat Channel

b. All craft fitted with engines, when navigating in the approach channel to Portsmouth Harbour, are to proceed under power between No 4 Bar Buoy and the Ballast Pile.

c. The Small Boat Channel may only be entered or exited by vessels approaching from the east at its northern or southern ends.

d. A traffic pattern is established around Ballast Pile; small boats entering the harbour are to pass close to the east of Ballast Pile and those exiting close to the west.

e. Small boats crossing the harbour entrance may only do so to the north of Ballast Pile and may not cross the main channel until south of 4 Bar Buoy.

f. Small boats, save those listed at paragraph 5, are not to loiter in the Small Boat Channel.

g. Small boats should remain on the Starboard side of the Small Boat Channel and should adjust their speed to remain within the Small Boat Channel rather than overtake other craft and be forced into the main channel.

h. All vessels using the Small Boat Channel are to leave 4 Bar Buoy to port, whether heading inbound or outbound.

i. In vicinity of BC Outer (red beacon), all vessels are to pass to the east of the beacon except those joining or leaving the Small Boat Channel at the Inner Swashway who are to leave it to port. This area can become extremely busy, particularly during the summer months, and mariners joining here should converge with caution and avoid forcing others out in to the middle of the harbour entrance. Similarly, all mariners should be alert to strong cross currents in this area which can sweep vessels in to the main channel.

4. Vessels approaching or departing the Small Boat Channel to the south, particularly at low water, should follow the line of the port lateral buoys in order to avoid grounding on the south-east corner of Hamilton Bank, turning to follow the line of the channel in the vicinity of 4 Bar Buoy.

5. The following vessels under 20m in length are authorised to use the main channel and loiter in the Small Boat Channel when their duties require; pilot boats, police launches, QHM Harbour Patrol launches, Border Force craft, Royal Naval vessels, lifeboats, senior officers’ boats flying official flags or discs and tugs engaged in towing operations or escorting a vessel.

6. Small boats may continue to use the Small Boat Channel when the main channel is closed for the passage of a large vessel other than a Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) Aircraft Carrier. The Small Boat Channel will be shut to all traffic during QEC transits.

7. Personal Watercraft. PWC of all descriptions are prohibited from entering or operating in the Town Camber, (defined by the purple pecked “no anchoring or fishing” line shown on Admiralty Chart 2629 joining the entrance to Gunwharf Quays and The Point) save with the permission in writing of QHM who will consult with Portsmouth International Port who are the Statutory Harbour Authority for this area.

8. Gunwharf Quays /Town Camber - Traffic Management. The following traffic management plan for craft under 20 metres in length (bound to/from Town Camber/Gunwharf Quays) is in force:

a. Arrival. In the interest of safety all Small Boats bound for Gunwharf Quays/Town Camber are to ............continued on the link.