Know your Rules of the Road
Q. You're heading down to grab a quick last sail before the weather turns really wintry! As you approach the Harbour Office however you notice a shape on the flagpole, a black cone pointing down. Something tells you it's to do with the weather...but what does it mean?
A. The Harbour Office flies shapes on the flag pole to indicate strong winds. If a cone is hoisted then expect gale force 8 imminently (within 6 hours) or soon (within 6 to 12 hours), if a cone and can are hoisted then expect storm force 10 or above imminently or soon.
Seeing this we'd suggest you revise your sailing plans!
Not much else beats being out on the water on a hot summer's day, enjoying an ice-cold beer or chilled glass of fizz? But remember, if you're enjoying a little tipple on board your boat - please be sensible.
The water, although beautiful, is a dangerous place to be if you don't treat it with respect. Remaining in control is important for the safety of you and everyone on your boat, as well as other boat users; think - if you wouldn't drive, you shouldn't sail.
The Merchant Shipping Act 1995 states that "boaters may be prosecuted...if their actions on the water are seen to be endangering other vessels, structures or individuals and they are under the influence of alcohol". What's more, most harbour authorities will have their own harbour byelaws. For example, here at Chichester Harbour we state in section 21 that "a person shall not navigate any vessel within the harbour whilst under the influence of drink or drugs to such an extent as to be incapable of taking proper control of the vessel".
We want all boat users to enjoy their time on the water, and that includes being able to enjoy a drink or two on board when the sun's shining. However, we also want everyone to be safe. So please treat the water with respect, and limit the amount of alcohol you consume while navigating your boat.
Enjoying all that Chichester Harbour has to offer from the water is a great pleasure. However, it's important that to ensure that alongside the enjoyment you act safely and responsibly on tenders just as you would taking your main vessel to sea.
While seemingly leisurely, you shouldn't forget that tenders can be dangerous and potentially fatal.
The number one rule for using your tender is to always wear a life jacket - always! If things don't go according to plan, a life jacket could be the difference between a lucky escape and a fatal accident.
Other things to remember that will help keep you safe are:
• Don't overload your tender and keep the weight balanced - make two trips if necessary
• Carry a torch with you at all times, it could help you be found in an emergency
• Don't drink and drive. It's important to remain aware and in control whilst on the water
• Make sure weather conditions are suitable - if you're not sure, don't risk it
So enjoy the Harbour and make the most of the stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but remember to stay safe.
Paddlesports, such as kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing are an excellent, low impact, healthy and fun way of exploring the Harbour.
However, when these craft get too close to birdlife and seals, they can cause disturbance, which can have negative consequences for their conservation.
We have recently produced a new, free leaflet for paddlesport enthusiasts to provide them with information on how to enjoy their time in the Harbour and protect wildlife when they are out on the water. This will be available to pick up from outlets around the Harbour including the Harbour Office in Itchenor, or you can download a copy here.
Some 10,000 boats share the fabulous recreational facilities of Chichester Harbour. At peak times the harbour can be congested and this can cause problems. However, the Conservancy believe that with a little thought and understanding everyone can enjoy the harbour and problems can be prevented.
A series of guides have been published (revised 2008) that we strongly encourage you to download and read. Hard copes are available from the Harbour Office.
These postcard size cards are available from The Harbour Offices in Itchenor and Emsworth along with Sailing Clubs, Marinas and from our Harbour Patrol.
Rules of the Road - Navigating Safely in Chichester Harbour
A simple guide to the collision regulations that have particular significance in harbour settings.
Essential Safety: Chichester Harbour
This leaflet is aimed at the less experienced mariner and aims to steer them away from difficulties in their first years.
Sailing and Powerboating in Harmony in Chichester Harbour
Answers to questions commonly posed by powerboaters and suggestions for ways for sail boat racers to share the facilities without spoiling everyone's fun. Updated 2012.
Please note the speed limit throughout the harbour is 8 knots.
If you have any particular comments or would like to arrange for a talk to your club or group please contact the Harbour Master.
Chichester Harbour Conservancy complies with the Port Marine Safety Code and produces an annual Safety Plan which can be downloaded as a pdf here. The complete PMSC document along with risk assessments is available to view at the Harbour Office. Please call 01243 512301 or email in advance of your visit.