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KHM Portsmouth / Safety and regulations / Regulations

Safety Guidelines

Speed limits

The following speed limits apply:
  1. Within Portsmouth Harbour - 10 knots.
  2. Within 1,000 yards of the shore in any part of the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth - 10 knots.
  3. Within Wootton Creek to the West of the meridian of the mouth of the creek.(Longitude 01 12’.84 W) - 5 knots. The speed limit in each case is to be taken as "speed through the water".

While not a legal requirement for certain types of small private recreational craft; the habit of routinely wearing both appropriate (for the individual’s size and the particular hazard) and suitably tested lifejackets cannot be emphasised sufficiently as a minimum precaution to such exposed personnel (especially children).
This characteristic alone can dramatically increase both survival and rescue probability. Both the KHM Patrol and the Volunteer Harbour Patrol (VHP) will additionally remind such mariners of the importance of this procedure whenever possible.

3 individuals disembark off of a large canoe on shore.

Safety points

Boat Licensing Regulations

For the small pleasure boat user who hires out or has paying guests there is a legal requirement to achieve successful inspection and certification on an annual basis. Details of this are to be found at this link.

Reporting damage or incidents:

All damage to craft and navigational incidents in the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth need to be reported to KHM. See General Direction 3/23 on directions to be followed.   

Special Operations

Portsmouth Harbour and approaches are frequently used for unique military operations when special forces small attack training craft are permitted to exceed the speed limit and other safety requirements under dedicated risk assessment criteria (see the standing LNTM for Fast transits by military craft).

Speed limits

3 vessels in the sea at dawn with a helicopter flying overhead

Safe speed

Mariners are also reminded of the importance in proceeding at a safe speed at all times as defined in Rule 6 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLLREGS). In particular in the approaches to and inside Portsmouth Harbour, when determining a safe speed, special consideration must be given to small boats. These small vessels could have combined lanterns which may be difficult to pick out against the background lighting, and they may not be detected by vessels with radar at adequate range.
View wash and slow
2 sailors in a small white boat sail towards the camera


The above speed limits do not apply within designated water-skiing areas if exceeded for the purpose of towing a water skier. Personal Water Craft (PWC) may only exceed the speed limit within the areas designated for their use. Fast Military Craft will also be exempt on specific occasions for operational training reasons. Any person requiring to exceed the above speed limits for specific reasons should apply to the King's Harbour Master for a licence - Personal Watercraft.

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Wash and slow

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