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Harbour Regulations and Enforcement

All vessels and persons using the harbour are obliged to follow the General Directions as made by the Littlehampton Harbour Board.  A person who fails to comply with a General Direction, or who intentionally obstructs or threatens an officer of the Board, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (up to £2,500).

Recent prosecutions:

  • The owners of two Jet Skis berthed within Littlehampton Harbour were each fined £200 and must each pay £30 victim surcharge and £500 costs after being found guilty of exceeding the speed limit on the River Arun between Littlehampton and Ford on 15th September 2019.
  • The owner of a 25ft motorboat berthed within Litltehampton Harbour was fined £1,000 and must pay £50 victim surcharge and £1,690 costs after being found guilty of not listening to the port’s designated VHF radio channel, failing to comply with verbal directions from harbour staff and subsequently impeding the passage of a large commercial vessel on 3rd August 2019.
  • The skipper of a 21ft sailing yacht berthed within Littlehampton Harbour was fined £300 and must pay £30 victim surcharge and £500 costs after being found guilty of not listening to the port’s designated VHF radio channel and subsequently impeding the passage of a large commercial vessel on 3rd August 2019
  • Identification: Vessels must be obviously marked with a name OR other obvious means of identification such as a DataTag number of Small Ships Register number
  • Harbour Dues and Vessel Registration: It is an offence to launch a vessel onto, enter, or keep a vessel in the harbour without first registering with the Harbour Master, paying the appropriate Harbour Dues and supplying the owner’s name and contact
    details, details of the vessel, and the place where the vessel is normally kept
  • Changes in vessel name, ownership or owner contact details: Notice of any changes in ownership or changes to the details of the registered vessel or owner must provided in writing to the Harbour Office
  • Small commercial vessels: Must register with the Harbour Office before carrying paying passengers from or within the Harbour and must hold the appropriate certification and commercial coding
  • Speed Limit: Do not exceed a speed of 6.5 knots through the water at any time
  • No Wash: Do not travel at any speed which creates any wash and disturbance when passing pontoons, other moorings quays, or vessels/divers working
  • Colregs: Follow the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea
  • Rights of way: Subject to the Colregs, when navigating against the tide, give way to vessels navigating with the tide. When crossing the Harbour, give way to vessels proceeding along the river
  • Keep well clear of large vessels: Remain outside of the fairway (the centre of the river where water remains at low tide) when large vessels under pilotage are entering or leaving Harbour. This is announced on VHF channel 71
  • Jetskis/PWCs: Permits are required for personal watercraft users based in Littlehampton. Visiting PWCs may not use any slipway or go up-river of the first road bridge (A259 Clympwick) without a permit. Visit click here  for details
  • Maritime works: Keep clear of divers or vessels engaged in the laying/retrieving of moorings/buoyage, dredging, salvage or construction works
  • Anchors: Always have an anchor prepared for immediate emergency use. If the vessel is not designed to have an anchor fitted (e.g. sailing dinghies and jet skis), have a mooring/tow line immediately available. Do not drop anchor in the river south of the A259 roadbridge unless in an emergency or with prior permission
  • Bathing Beaches: No powered craft may proceed inshore of the  seasonal yellow marker buoys either side of the harbour entrance
  • The Narrows: Vessels entering the Narrows must proceed directly to or from the seaward harbour limits without stopping or loitering
  • Communication: All vessels must carry a VHF radio (turned on and tuned to channel 71 whilst inside the harbour) or other means of communication approved by the Harbour Master
  • Alcohol/drugs: Do not use any vessel whilst under the influence of drink or drugs to such an extent as to be incapable of taking proper control of the vessel
  • Reporting: Report any collision, sinking, grounding or abandoned/adrift/missing vessels as soon as possible
  • Obstructions: The owner of any obstruction of whatever description to navigation or dredging in the Harbour, must remove it if instructed and, until it is removed, have it watched or marked
  • Seaworthiness: Do not move any unsafe or unseaworthy vessel except as necessary for that vessel’s safety or that of her crew and as directed by the Harbour Master
  • Abandoned vessels: Do not abandon a vessel on the banks or shore or anywhere else within the Harbour for any length of time. If such vessel is not removed immediately on demand it may be removed and disposed of by the Harbour Master. Any costs reasonably incurred in removing and disposing of the vessel shall be payable by the owner and may be recouped from the proceeds of selling the vessel by the Harbour Master
  • Vessel disposal: Do not break up any vessel within the Harbour
  • Pollution: Do not deliberately or accidentally allow any escape into the Harbour of dangerous or offensive matter, including shellfish and fish waste or sewage
  • Safe and secure: Ensure that moored vessels are secure and not likely to cause any damage to any other vessel or property including the mooring itself
  • Mooring license: Do not attach your vessel or any other equipment to any beacon, navigational mark, pier or other object not intended for mooring. Do not use any moorings without permission of the mooring operator
  • Rafting: Where rafting is deemed necessary by the Harbour Master on the visitor moorings, rafted vessels must give free access across their decks to those rafted outside of them
  • Tampering with moorings: Do not cast a vessel adrift or tamper with any mooring
  • Loading/unloading or carrying cargo: Comply with all general directions specific to cargo in the full general directions document here
  • No swimming in the channel: Do not bathe or swim in the fairway (where water remains at low tide) or in any other area which the Harbour Master may designate
  • No jumping in or diving: Except where emergencies require it, do not jump or dive into the water from any vessel or harbour structure
  • No towing: Do not tow any other vessel, individual or equipment except in genuine emergencies
  • No trespassing/vandalism: Do not trespass on, damage, make fast to, or interfere with any light, beacon, seamark, navigational buoy or mark, racing buoy or tide gauge
  • Other banned activities: No kitesurfing, windsurfing, aircraft, hydrofoils, hovercraft, diving, snorkelling or fishing with nets/pots without permission of the Harbour Master

Click Here for a handy Pocket Guide summarising the Littlehampton Harbour General Directions

Click Here for the full Littlehampton Harbour General Directions document containing the full regulations.

Click Here for the Enforcement Policy followed by the Harbour Master and his patrol staff. 

MCA Guidance and applicable UK regulations for pleasure vessels

International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at sea – two page summary

External regulations for leisure vessels – further advice for leisure vessels and some detail on what external regulations apply can be found in this document which covers the following topics:

  • Definition of ‘passenger ship’
  • Safety equipment requirements
  • SOLAS V for pleasure craft
  • Passage planning
  • Radar Reflectors
  • Life Saving Signals
  • Assistance to Other Craft
  • Misuse of Distress Signals
  • Navigation light requirements
  • Pollution and waste

More specific information can be obtained by researching the individually mentioned regulations or by contacting the MCA.