Public notice

River Hamble Harbour Authority Notice to River Users No 9 of 2021

New General Direction for Recreational and Personal Water Craft




1. The interpretation that a PWC may not be engaged in navigation (eg not travelling from one place to another) and therefore not subject to regulation under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, has led to an ongoing Governmental Review of that and other Acts. The Aim of the review is to ensure that those who operate such craft may be held to account if they fail to operate those craft responsibly and safely. This review is likely to give the MCA strengthened power to address the bad behaviour of a minority of those having charge of PWC in the light of a number of fatalities.

2. Accepting the need for review of general legislation caused by debate about whether a PWC 'navigates', in practice, any vessel or craft will always depart from one place and arrive at another, even if the plan is to return to its departure point. What matters is that it will be conducted or driven responsibly and with an appropriate level of control during the intervening voyage, trip or period, whatever route it follows, both for the safety of those it carries and for the safety and integrity of other vessels, craft, persons or property with which it may come into close proximity and or involve risk of collision.

3. The Review relates to areas outside of 'managed' waters. Managed waters include those under the control of Harbour Authorities. It does not and will not affect the powers, upheld in the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea[1] (as well as establishing Acts) held by Harbour Authorities[2] (and other appropriate authorities) to make special Rules for the safety of navigation within their jurisdiction. Such special Rules are appropriate in the River Hamble, given the density and nature of the traffic here as well as other factors which will include the Habitats' Regulations.

4. In advance of any unseamanlike challenge attempted by a Master, operator or driver of a PWC that certain Laws do not apply to him/her or the craft being operated within the River, the River Hamble Harbour Authority has decided to take the step of issuing a General Direction, as it is authorized to do, to remind those in charge of PWC of the definition here of the status of a PWC as well as the Harbour Authority's intent for the application of the Law within its jurisdiction[3].

5. The attached General Direction is self-explanatory and leaves no room for doubt that all Rules, Regulations, Bye Laws and General Directions put in place from time to time within the River Hamble's jurisdiction apply to PWC, the definition of which in the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea as vessels is clear and unambiguous. This Direction will apply to ALL Recreational and Personal Water Craft.

6. Cancel this Notice 31 Dec 2021. General Direction No 3 will remain in force until further notice.

Jason Scott

Marine Director and Harbour Master

River Hamble

Shore Road

Warsash SO31 9FR 28 Sep 2021

[1] Rule 1(b)

[2] In the case of the River Hamble, Section 52 of the Harbours Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847, Section 12 of the Southampton Harbour Act 1939, Article 37 and Schedule 2 of the River Hamble Revision Order 1969.

[3] Article 4 of the River Hamble Revision Order 1969, as illustrated on Admiralty Chart 2022.


Jason Scott Marine Director and Harbour Master River Hamble Shore Road Warsash SO31 9FR