Portsmouth is Britain’s premier naval base and one of the busiest harbours in the country. It is a very large natural harbour, almost completely landlocked except for the narrow entrance,with the approaches themselves well sheltered by the Isle of Wight.

The Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) Portsmouth is the regulatory authority of the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth, an area of approximately 55 square miles that encompasses not only Portsmouth Harbour itself, but includes all the waters from Cowes in the west to Hayling Island down to Sandown Bay in the east, with the single exception of Bembridge Harbour.

Traffic co-ordination for shipping entering and leaving Portsmouth Harbour is performed by Harbour Control which is manned 24 hours a day. The QHM and his staff have to ensure that the 130,000 yearly shipping movements under their control are safely carried out and with the minimum impact to the surrounding area.

To facilitate the safe passage of small craft to and from Portsmouth Harbour, a ‘Small Boat Channel’ exists for vessels less than 20m in length on the western side of the harbour entrance. The northern and southern extremities of the Small Boat Channel are at Ballast beacon and No. 4 Bar buoy, both of which are to be left close to port by vessels entering and departing. Remember, small boats are extremely difficult to see and the harbour entrance is a blind bend to larger vessels. Enter and leave the harbour through the Small Boat Channel.

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. Vessels are only to cross the main channel when they are to the north of Ballast Pile, and permission has been obtained from the QHM on VHF Ch 11.

The Small Boat Channel may only be entered or exited by vessels approaching from the east at its northern or southern extremities. If crossing the harbour entrance, do so to the north of Ballast Pile or to the south of No. 4 Bar buoy. Keep to the starboard side of the Small Boat Channel and adjust speed to remain within the channel rather than overtake and be forced into the main channel. Small boats may continue to use the Small Boat Channel when the main channel is closed for the passage of a large vessel, except for entry or exit of the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers when the Small Boat Channel will be closed to all vessels except the carrier and those assisting her.

Do not underestimate the speed of ships. If your boat is slow, allow sufficient time to take evasive action in the vicinity of large ships. Be visible. At night make sure your navigation lights can be seen. If you see the navigation lights of a vessel and think you have not been seen, get out of the way. Carry a radar reflector high on your boat.

Remember, from the bridge of a loaded container ship or large tanker, the captain or pilot will lose sight of you a third of a mile ahead, although you can see the ship at all times. Ships with deep draught may have less room for manoeuvre than is immediately apparent.

At night be extra vigilant as, even on a clear night, you will have difficulty seeing a big ship approach. You might see it first as a black shadow against a background of shore lights, or as a growing shadow, at that point you are not far apart. Remember that your lights will not be easily spotted from the ship.

It is essential that all mariners operating north of a line between Outer Spit Buoy and Gilkicker Point maintain a close watch on VHF Ch 11, for vessel traffic information from QHM Harbour Control. In an emergency, if you believe you have not been seen or you are unsure of a ship’s intentions, call them on VHF Ch 11 or 16, then shift to a working frequency for inter-ship safety messages.

The Swashway is an important channel for shallow draught vessels approaching and leaving Portsmouth Harbour. It should be noted that hovercraft and high-speed catamaran ferries often transit the area en-route to and from Ryde at speeds in excess of 24 knots. As non-displacement craft, hovercraft usually navigate outside the Swashway in areas where depths are shallow.

The Spitbank area, as a whole, is regularly used for yacht racingand regattas. Yachts and slow moving craft are advised to keep watch for the possible approach of high-speed ferries and other fast craft. High-speed craft are cautioned not to assume that other boats, particularly those whom they are overtaking, are aware of their presence, and are to give them a sufficiently wide berth.

Extra caution is to be taken when operating in the vicinity of the harbour entrance to prevent small and less powerful boats being swept into mid-channel from the Small Boat Channel by the strong cross-tide.

The speed limit within Portsmouth Harbour is 10 knots and the same within 0.5nm of the line of MLWS in any part of the Port of Portsmouth outside the harbour. The speed limit in each case is to be taken as ‘speed through the water’.

When visibility in the harbour or approach channel is less than 0.25 of a nautical mile the QHM may declare the fog routine to be in force. Small boats may proceed with caution but must keep clear of the main navigable channels and the approach channel. The QHM will direct that the routine is in force, and when it has ended, by broadcasts on VHF Ch 11 or 13.

Vessels without operational radars are advised not to proceed in such conditions, and in any event, should navigate with extreme caution in conditions of restricted visibility.

Contact: Queen's Harbour Master Portsmouth, Semaphore Tower, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, PO1 3LT. Tel: 02392 723694. www.qhm.mod.uk/portsmouth for access to all QHM Portsmouth LNTM and General Directions.

Reference:  QHM Portsmouth General Direction 07/10.

Small Boat Channel and access to Gunwharf Quays and Town Camber. The Small Boat Channel, as displayed on Admiralty charts, is defined by Ballast Beacon at its northern extremity and No 4 Bar Buoy to the south. As the harbour entrance is a blind bend for large vessels, small boats operating near the harbour entrance are often difficult to detect, the following rules therefore apply to all small boats:

1. Small Boats must enter and leave the harbour through the Small Boat Channel.

2. All craft fitted with engines, when navigating in the Approach Channel to Portsmouth Harbour, are to proceed under power between No 4 Bar Buoy, Ballast Beacon and Gunwharf Quays/Town Camber.

3. The Small Boat Channel may only be entered or exited by vessels approaching from the vicinity of Gunwharf Quays/Town Camber north of Ballast Beacon.

4. A traffic pattern is established at Ballast Beacon; small boats entering the harbour are to pass close to the east of Ballast Beacon, those exiting close to the west.

5. Small boats, unless authorised by QHM, are not to loiter in the Small Boat Channel.

6. Small boats should remain on the Starboard side of the Small Boat Channel, adjusting their speed to remain within the Small Boat Channel to avoid overtaking or leaving the Channel.

7. Immediately prior to departure from Gunwharf Quays/Town Camber, small boats are to request permission from QHM on VHF Ch 11, to cross the harbour to Ballast Beacon before entering the Channel.

Note - There are no visitor berths or moorings at Gunwharf Quays, and boats will only be permitted to cross the harbour to Gunwharf Quays if they have an assigned berth. The Gunwharf Berthing Manager can be contacted by VHF Ch 80 or 02392 836732.

Gunwharf Quays Marina

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Portsmouth’s Historic Naval Dockyard and the Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays offers guests a unique waterside experience combining outlet shopping, dining and leisure, coupled with world class customer service.

Offering spacious and fully serviced marina berths for both annual and visiting guests we can accommodate craft of up to 80m in length and a maximum draught of 5.5m with quick and easy access to the Solent.

Add a friendly and professional team, who are dedicated to making your stay an enjoyable one, and you have the perfect destination marina.

Contact: Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth P01 3TZ

For further information or to book a berth, contact Gunwharf Quays Marina on 02392 836 732, VHF Channel 80 or email marina@gunwharf-quays.com

We look forward to welcoming you soon.

Camber Dock  

Set in the most historic part of the city, Camber Docks is home to KB-Boatpark Dry Stack, the new Ben Ainslie Racing America’s Cup Challenge HQ, the Wightlink ferry service, the local fishing fleet and fish market, commercial workboats, Portsmouth Sailing Club, and a number of private sailing and motor vessels. Visiting vessels are welcome and can moor alongside the quay wall next to the Bridge Tavern with a short stay charge collected by KB-Boatpark staff on behalf of the Harbour Master.

Contact:  Camber Harbour Office, KB-Boatpark, 1st Floor, 96 Broad Street, Old Portsmouth, PO1 2JE.Tel: 02392 833166. info@kb-boatpark.co.uk

KB- Boatpark Dry Stack 

KB-Boatpark has benefited from a complete re-build in 2014/15 after re-locating a few hundred metres to facilitate the building of Sir Ben Ainslie’s new America’s Cup Challenge HQ at Camber Docks. The works included a new racking system, a brand new Hoist fork lift truck to work alongside the existing Clarke truck, and new office accommodation making KB Dry Stack the most up to date in the Solent area. RIBs and sports boats up to 10m can be launched at all states of tides and Portsmouth Harbour entrance and access to The Solent is only a few hundred metres from the Dry Stack.

Contact:  KB-Boatpark, First Floor, 96 Broad Street, Old Portsmouth. PO1 2JE. Tel: 02392 833166 Mob: 07733 880260  info@kb-boatpark.co.uk  www.kb-boatpark.co.uk

Haslar Marina 

Haslar Marina is a modern purpose-built marina in Portsmouth Harbour just minutes from the waters of the Solent. Located in Haslar Creek, Gosport, and protected by a large wave screen, the marina offers sheltered berthing with no tidal restrictions.

The marina has up to 120 dedicated visitors' berths, catering for vessels up to 60m LOA. All berths are fully serviced with water, electricity, and Wi-Fi. Facilities include showers and washrooms, two laundries, bars and restaurants, 24-hour security, and car parking. Sealift 2 are now operating from Haslar Marina. Call Sign 'Haslar Marina' on VHF 80.

Contact: Haslar Marina, Haslar Road, Gosport, PO12 1NU. Tel: 02392 61201. www.deanreddyhoff.co.uk//haslar-marina

Gosport Marina 

Premier’s Gosport Marina is situated 500m from Portsmouth Harbour and a breakwater ensures that boats are protected from wash from passing boats.

Gosport Marina can accommodate 500 boats on berths ranging up to 30m. The marina has quality toilets and showers,a launderette and an excellent Café Bistro - The Boat House Café.

There is also 24hour a self serve fuel berth, dry stack storage, a specialist boatyard – Endeavour Quay and boat sales; electricity and water on the pontoons, berth holder car parking, free Wi-Fi and bottled gas is available. Gosport High Street with a variety of shops is just two minutes away and a quick ferry trip over the water will find you at Gunwharf Quays. Telephone or call VHF Ch. 80 for berthing.

Contact: Gosport Marina, Mumby Road, Gosport, PO12 1AH. Tel: 023 9252 4811. www.premiermarinas.com/gosport

The Gosport Ferry

The Gosport Ferry provides fast shuttle services from nearby Gosport Ferry pontoon to the popular Gunwharf Quays with its designer outlets, bowling alley, cinema, restaurants and bars.

Endeavour Quay 

Endeavour Quay offers a comprehensive refit, maintenance and repair facility for commercial vessels and private sailing and power craft up to 40 metres LOA or 180 tonnes. Part of Gosport Marina, Endeavour Quay is also renown for providing service and support for major yacht race projects. Supporting the yard’s lifting and storage services is a comprehensive range of independent onsite marine service tenants and a chandlery. The yard also welcomes owner’s contractors onto the site as part of its ‘open yard policy’.

Endeavour Quay offers easy access to The Solent and English Channel, with no air draft restriction. There is 90m of serviced waiting pontoons, a 30m long and 8.5m wide lifting dock, and a 180 tonne travel hoist.

Contact:  Endeavour Quay, Mumby Road, Gosport, Hampshire, PO12 1AH.  Tel: 02392 584200. www.endeavourquay.co.uk

Royal Clarence Marina 

Royal Clarence Marina lies within a deep water basin fronting the Royal Navy’s former victualling yard, is less that 10 minutes from the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour and close to Gosport town Centre.

The marina provides fully serviced pontoon berths ranging in length from 8 to 18m. There is also over 350 metres of alongside berthing available.

The marina enjoys one of the deepest water basins in southern England with the capacity to take vessels up to 4 m daft. Royal Clarence Marina has 145 fully serviced berths including heavy duty and deep water berths. The marina now benefits from on-site, state of the art, toilets, showers, laundry and visitors lounge. VHF Ch 80, Call Sign ‘Royal Clarence Marina’.

Contact: Royal Clarence Marina, Weevil Lane, Gosport, PO12 1AX. Tel: 02392 523523. www.royalclarencemarina.org. Royal Clarence Marina is a member of TransEurope Marinas