Call 01983 293952 or email

Cowes Harbour General Directions Chapter 3 Navigation and Movement of Vessels

Chapter 3: Navigation and Movement of Vessels

3.1. Collision Regulations:

3.1.1. The Master shall at all times comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 as amended (as such regulations are amended or replaced from time to time),

3.1.2. Vessels navigating in the Outer Fairway as described in (2.8) shall comply with Rule 9 of the Collision Regulations.

3.2. Speed Limit:

3.2.1. Every vessel navigating the Inner Harbour of Cowes or within 100 metres of the Mean High Water Mark shall unless otherwise authorised by the Harbour Master in writing, subject to the requirements of maintaining adequate steerage way and control, be navigated at a speed not exceeding 6 knots through the water.

3.2.2. Complying with the maximum permitted speed will not exonerate the Master of any vessel from the responsibility of reducing speed as necessary in the observance of normal practice of safe seamanship. This includes, but is not limited to, when passing mooring trots, pontoons, vessels alongside quays, jetties or pontoons, vessels engaged in maritime works and when approaching the Cowes Chain Ferry. Vessels shall at all times be navigated with care and caution and in such a manner so as not to endanger the safety of other persons or cause nuisance to the occupants of any other vessel, person or property.

3.3. Wash - A vessel shall not be navigated or manoeuvred in any part of the Inner Harbour or within 100 metres of the shore in a manner or at a speed so as to cause wash to be generated that may cause damage to or endanger the safety of other persons, vessels or property.

3.4. Navigation in the Shrape Watersports Area – Within the Shrape Watersports Area the following activities are permitted to exceed the 6knot speed limit if safe to do so:

i. Dinghy and Day Boat Sailing
ii. Wind Surfing
iii. Kite Surfing
iv. Rowing
v. Support and rescue craft involved in the above activities.

3.5. Speed Exemptions - General Direction 3.2.1 and 3.2.2 shall not apply to any vessel on any occasion when it is being used by the Police, Fire Service or RNLI or other recognised rescue or patrol craft in an emergency situation, or for the purposes of enforcing these General Directions or any Special Directions.

3.6. Navigating whilst under influence of Drink or Drugs:

3.6.1. No person shall navigate or attempt to navigate a vessel when unfit by reason of drink or drugs,

3.6.2. No Master or owner of a vessel shall knowingly cause or permit any person to navigate or attempt to navigate the vessel in contravention with Direction 3.6.1.

3.7. Departing Marina or Moorings - The Master of a vessel leaving a marina area or moorings within the Harbour shall give way to vessels navigating within a fairway.

3.8. Reporting Incident or Collision - The Master of any commercial vessel involved in any collision and any leisure vessel involved in a collision in which significant damage or personal injury is caused shall forthwith and certainly within 24 hours report the collision or incident to the Harbour Master and complete and return the Accident/Incident investigation report to the Harbour Master.

3.9. Sunk or Grounded Vessels - The Master of a vessel which has sunk or grounded in the Harbour shall immediately advise the Harbour Master of its position and any other particulars he may require for the safety of navigation. If a vessel under tow has sunk or grounded the Master of the towing vessel shall also have responsibility to advise the Harbour Master as aforesaid.

3.10. Vessels Abandoned or Adrift - The owner or Master of a vessel which has been abandoned or has gone adrift or is missing from her moorings in the Harbour shall notify the Harbour Master of the relevant facts (to include date, time and circumstances) as soon as practicable after the Master becomes aware of the event.

3.11. Unseaworthy vessel - No person shall cause a vessel in an unsafe or unseaworthy condition to navigate the Harbour except as necessary for that vessel’s safety and that of her crew, and she shall then proceed to such place as may be indicated by the Harbour Master.

3.12. "Competent Person” - The owner or persons operating or managing any vessel underway in the harbour shall ensure that the vessel is under the control or direct supervision of a competent person.

3.13. Due Care for Vessels Engaged in Work - The Master of a vessel shall navigate his vessel with due care and caution and at a speed and in such manner as not to cause injury to or endanger the lives of persons engaged in the laying or retrieving of moorings, navigational works, dredging works, salvage or construction works or underwater work.

3.14. Lights, impeding safe navigation - Except in the interests of safe and proper navigation no lights, including lasers or other beams shall be used in a manner which causes nuisance to or affects safe navigation.

3.15. Pyrotechnics - Except in instances of distress or safety of proper navigation, pyrotechnics shall not be used within the harbour without the permission of the Harbour Master in writing.

3.16. Yacht Race Management - Race Officers shall maintain a listening watch on VHF channel 69 prior to and during all yacht races starting and or finishing in the vicinity of the Cowes Fairway.

3.17. Navigation in Inner Harbour Small Craft Mooring Area - No person shall navigate any power driven vessel or sailing vessel fitted with an auxiliary engine within the Small Craft Mooring Area as designated on Admiralty Charts within the Inner Harbour south of the Detached Breakwater and west of longitude 01 17.50W, unless proceeding to or from a mooring located within that area, without the written permission of the Harbour Master.

3.17.1. Sailing through Inner Harbour Small Craft Mooring Area - A sailing vessel without auxiliary engine may sail through the Small Craft Mooring Area, as designated on Admiralty Charts within the Inner Harbour south of the Detached Breakwater, when entering or exiting the harbour and when in compliance with the following conditions:

a) It is reasonably considered by the Master to be the safest, most practicable route taking account of prevailing conditions of weather, tide and traffic.

b) That the vessel only uses the minimum number of sails required to maintain the vessel’s course and a safe and reasonable speed over the ground, whilst not exceeding the 6kt speed limit.

c) When joining the fairway / Small Craft Channel, due regard shall be had for the manoeuvring characteristics of other vessels, and in any case that Cowes General Direction 3.7 and the International Regulations for the Preventions of Collisions at Sea are complied with.

3.18. Restricted Visibility - ‘During periods of restricted visibility (defined as less than 2 cables) all vessels of 30m length overall and above shall not intentionally pass each other within the Inner Fairways of the harbour north of Medina Wharf, this includes overtaking’.

3.19. VHF Communications within Cowes Harbour - All vessels of 30 metres length overall and above are required to give notice of entry, movement or departure within the area of jurisdiction of Cowes Harbour on VHF Channel 69 in accordance with this Direction.

All vessels required to give VHF notification shall give an ‘ALL SHIPS’ call prior to departure from any berth within Cowes Harbour and when passing the following positions:

• Prior to entering the Outer Harbour
• 250m north of Cowes Chain Ferry (at Shepards Wharf Marina)
• Folly Inn (vessels bound for Newport).

• Folly Inn.
• Kingston Wharf.
• 250m south of Cowes Chain Ferry (at Cowes Harbour Fuels)

The call shall give the following information:
• Vessel's name.
• Vessel's position.
• Intention.

Any vessel to which this Direction applies and under way within the area of jurisdiction of Cowes Harbour shall, if a close quarters or passing situation is likely to occur, respond to an ‘ALL SHIPS’ call from another vessel and state her stating name, position and whether inbound or outbound.

In addition, vessels to which this Direction applies shall maintain a listening watch on VHF Ch 69 at all times when under way within Cowes Harbour and north of No. 8 buoy.

The general call signal as required by this Direction does not allow any vessel priority or sole occupancy of the main fairway. All vessels are required to navigate in Cowes Harbour in compliance with the Merchant Shipping Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions Regulations (as amended) and Cowes Harbour General Directions.

It is emphasised that commercial vessels and private recreational vessels of 30 metres and above, leaving Newport Harbour and entering the jurisdiction of Cowes Harbour must comply with this Direction.

Nothing within this Direction shall relieve the Master of any vessel of over 20 metres in length of his obligation to give due notice to the Cowes Chain Ferry both by sound signal and VHF radio call on Channel 69 as required under Direction 6.


Website design and build by Netguides