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Safety Points


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. The Harbour Patrol (HP) in Portsmouth will additionally remind such mariners of the importance of this procedure whenever possible.


The maintenance of a safe speed at all times, within the specified speed limit, is directly proportional to risk to both life and property.  Not only is this relevant to the occupants of the “speeding” vessel but also to those who encounter the associated wake and risk of collision.  General Direction 01/18 (Speed Limits) is and will continue to be strictly enforced by QHM.  Of particular note, the 10 knot speed limit applies within half a mile of the shore, throughout the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth which covers the majority of the eastern Solent.


Within the Solent and especially within the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth (due to the traffic density) the continual monitoring and significance of carrying a portable VHF set (or better) and a good VHF guard by all mariners is vital for traffic coordination.  The essential use of VHF for all craft to safely transit and cross the harbour (see General Direction 02/17 – Portsmouth Harbour Entrance – Approach Channel, Small Boat Channel, Swashway and inner Swashway) reaffirms this and reminds the recreational user that help is only a call away. Search and Rescue operations are primarily a Coastguard responsibility, but again, a careful guard of VHF is important here, both to obtain assistance if required and to assist other mariners if needed.


Simple but vital to all mariners,  this measure can save lives if followed diligentlyIn particular, vessels operating at speed in the Solent should be particularly vigilant towards the presence of other small craft as well as swimmers and divers marked by floats and support craft flying flag Alpha.


The Portsmouth approach channel, entrance and the harbour are frequently used by deep draught warships, ferries and commercial traffic that can safely navigate on within the channel.  Small craft operators are advised that they are to adhere to the requirements of LNTM 08/18 (vessels Constrained by their Draught) and to Rule 9 (Narrow Channels) of the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), in that they are not to impede the passage of vessels which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel.


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 LNTM 06/18 – Fast transits by military craft). Furthermore specific risk assessments for recreational events are also required (see LNTM 03/18) to ensure all the hazards have been reduced to an acceptable level. This is controlled by QHM and the local mariner needs to remain alert to their existence, activity and relevance.


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 www.portsmouth-port.co.uk/pmsc  under “downloads-general” for SASHMA Boats & Boatmen licence guidelines.


All damage to craft and navigational incidents in the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth need to be reported to QHM.  See General Direction 03/1on directions to be followed.   


The following sites are all relevant to enhancing recreational safety on the water and worthy of revisiting and updating before returning afloat this year.

www.royalnavy.mod.uk/qhm/portsmouth/ for QHM Local Notices & General Directions

www.portsmouth-port.co.uk/pmsc  for Portsmouth Harbour information

www.gov.uk/government/organisations/maritime-and-coastguard-agency for general information and advice

www.southamptonvts.co.uk  for Southampton local information

www.gov.uk/government/organisations/marine-accident-investigation-branch for MAIB Reports / Actions

www.rya.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx  for recreational safety and information

Finally all mariners are reminded of the importance of a good appreciation of likely weather to be encountered (including fog) on their planned passage especially taking into account the heavy density of all types of traffic in the Solent throughout the year. Ensuring such basic precautions are followed will improve safety and enjoyment for all local users.