Portsmouth Passage Guidance



The following information is for guidance only. Full use should be made of the appropriate charts and publications when planning a passage into Portsmouth. VHF Communication is mentioned throughout this text. For details please refer to the Admiralty List of Radio Signals Volume 6(1), and local NTM No.01/16.

Passage Guidance

Anchorages

Approaching Portsmouth from the Nab Tower

Approaching Portsmouth from the West

Departing from Portsmouth

Anchorages

Anchorages are available at "St. Helen's Roads" and "Spithead", (with permission from the Queen's Harbour Master). There is an anchorage for deep draught vessels 5nm SW of the "Nab Tower". Top of Page

Approaching Portsmouth from the Nab Tower

On approaching the "Nab tower", caution should be exercised with regard to vessels arriving or departing from the deep water anchorage and for vessels embarking and disembarking a pilot in the vicinity of the tower.

Mariners should be aware that in the vicinity of the "Nab Tower", the tidal stream runs generally ENE/WSW. It has a maximum ENE at HW - 4 with a spring rate of 1.8kn, and a maximum WSW at HW +2 with a spring rate of 1.6kn.

Vessels should report on passing the "Nab Tower" to "Southampton VTS" on VHF channel 12, giving distance East or West of the tower. A listening watch should then be maintained on this channel for traffic and other information. A report should also be made to The Queen's Harbour Master " QHM" on VHF channel 11 giving draught, intended berth and ETA at the "Saddle" Buoy.

There is a deep water channel for very deep draught vessels who can only use this channel because of their draught. It is marked at the entrance by the "Outer Nab No1" and "Outer Nab No2" buoys south of the Nab Tower. The deep water channel rejoins the main channel at the "Nab End" buoy. The main channel then runs until the "Warner" buoy.

In the vicinity of the "St. Helen's" buoy, care should be exercised with regard to vessels entering or leaving the St. Helen's anchorage and for vessels embarking or disembarking a pilot.

At the "Warner" buoy, vessels should call "QHM" on VHF channel 11 confirming position. From this point, a listening watch should also be maintained on channel 11 in addition to channel 12.

On passing between "Horse Sand Fort" and "No Mans Land Fort", vessels should report and check out with "Southampton VTS" on VHF channel 12.

Mariners should be aware that numerous ferries may be encountered entering and leaving the Portsmouth Approach Channel, Vessels constrained by their draught transiting the area on route for Southampton, and also large numbers of recreational craft may at times be encountered.

On passing the "Saddle" buoy, permission to enter Portsmouth Approach Channel must be requested from "QHM" on VHF channel 11. Mariners are advised that QHM will operate traffic restrictions to facilitate the passage of Naval or any other vessel entering or leaving Portsmouth and vessels are not permitted to proceed past the "Saddle" buoy without QHM's permission. Passage plans should therefore encompass possible delays in entering the Portsmouth Approach Channel.

In the vicinity of the "Outer Spit" buoy, the tidal stream runs generally East/West. It has a maximum Easterly direction at HW -4 with a spring rate of 1.4kn, and is a maximum Westerly direction at HW +1 with a spring rate of 1.8kn. Top of Page

Approaching Portsmouth from the West

Chart of Approach (230 Kb). In the vicinity of the "North Sturbridge" buoy, care should be exercised with regard to vessels embarking and disembarking pilots and for deep draught vessels shaping up to pass South of the Ryde Middle Shoal.

Mariners are also advised that there is an increased risk in the vicinity of the Swashway due to the presence of Ferries, yachts and other recreational craft. This is an important channel for shallow draught vessels approaching or leaving Portsmouth Harbour. In addition to car ferries, hovercraft and high speed ferries often transit the area at speeds in excess of 24 knots. Hovercraft, being non displacement craft, usually navigate outside the Swashway in areas where depths are shallow. The Spitbank area as a whole is often used for yacht racing and regattas. Caution should therefore be exercised and a thorough lookout maintained at all times.

On passing "Gilkicker Point", vessels should report and check out with "Southampton VTS" on VHF Channel 12 and contact "QHM" on VHF channel 11 giving position, draught and intended berth. A listening watch should then be maintained on VHF channel 11.

Entrance to the Portsmouth Approach Channel may be gained via the Swashway for suitable vessels. The limiting depth on the Swashway is 2.1m. Permission must be requested from "QHM" on VHF channel 11 before entering the Swashway. Vessels using this route are advised to exercise caution as numerous ferries and recreational craft are likely to be encountered. Mariners are also reminded of the requirements of Rule 9 of the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea regarding Narrow Channels, particularly with regard to vessels that can safely navigate only within such channels or fairways.

Vessels should contact "QHM" on VHF channel 11 before the "Outer Spit" buoy and request permission to enter the Portsmouth Approach Channel. Vessels are not permitted to proceed past the "Outer Spit" buoy without permission.

Once a vessel has reached a position of within 0.5nm of the shore a speed limit of 10kn comes into force.

Chart of Harbour Entrance (211 Kb). Vessels navigating in the Portsmouth Approach Channel should be aware of traffic entering and leaving the channel from/to the Swashway. In addition there is a Small Boat Channel which is obligatory for vessels under 20m in length, which runs from Number "4 Bar" buoy to the "Ballast" Pile inside the Harbour. Thus concentrations of small craft may be encountered on the Western side of the channel from this point. Those small craft fitted with engines are required to use these whilst navigating in the Small Boat Channel.

Vessels should further be aware that the Isle of Wight Car ferry departs from the Town Camber at half hourly intervals by day and hourly intervals by night. This ferry may be obscured visually until clear of the Town Camber docks and so care should be taken to listen for these ferries requesting permission to depart on VHF channel 11.

The Flood tide at the entrance reaches a maximum at HW -1.5 hours with a spring rate of 3.4kn. The Ebb tide reaches a maximum at HW +3 hours with a spring rate of 4.1kn. Eddies may be encountered near the Harbour entrance due to the strong rates of the tidal streams.

Once inside the Harbour, caution should be exercised with regard to small vessels crossing the harbour to join/or leave to Small Boat Channel, and for vessels entering or leaving the Gunwharf Quays and Harbour Railway Station.

Care should be exercised with regard to excessive speed when passing Naval vessels moored alongside the Naval berths in order to prevent surging damage caused by interaction. This is all the more important near periods of low water. Increasing the distance off when passing should also be considered.

The Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005 should be consulted for details concerning the use of anchors, mooring, and approaching naval vessels or berths, in conjunction with the latest "Notice's to Mariners".

Mariners are advised that due to Naval movements or movements to/from the Commercial Port of Portsmouth, vessels may be required to wait or pass other traffic in designated areas, and Passage plans should encompass this possibility with regard to manoeuvring.

Vessels bound to or from North Quay are advised that two tugs will be required for berthing and unberthing. This may be reduced to one tug with the prior agreement of the Commercial Port Harbour Master, if the vessel is fitted with an operational bow thrust.

Once alongside a berth vessels should report to "QHM" on VHF channel 11. Top of Page

Departing from Portsmouth

Prior to slipping from a berth permission must be sought from "QHM" on VHF channel 11. Vessels of 20 m LOA or more, are not permitted to slip a berth without permission.

Care should be exercised in the areas highlighted in the guidance for arrival above.

On approach to the "Naval War Memorial", contact should be made with "Southampton VTS" on VHF channel 12 reporting the vessels position, and intended route either via the "Nab Tower" or the "North Sturbridge" buoy and requesting any relevant traffic information. A listening watch should be maintained on this channel from this point.

On passing the "Saddle" buoy vessels should report and check out with "QHM" on VHF channel 11. Caution must be exercised on departing the Portsmouth Approach Channel for vessels constrained by their draught proceeding through the area. Vessels proceeding out of Portsmouth are required not to embarrass these vessels or to present them with a crossing situation. Care should also be exercised with regard to vessels having recently disembarked a Southampton pilot at the "North Sturbridge" boarding area.

Vessels bound via the "Nab Tower", on passing between "Horse Sand Fort" and "No Mans Land Fort", should report to "Southampton VTS" on VHF Channel 12. A final report should be made to "Southampton VTS" when passing the "Nab Tower". Top of Page


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