Navigating the River Hamble

Best practices for navigating the River Hamble

Pilotage notes

Mean Tidal Ranges: Springs 4.0m; Neaps 1.9m.

There is a double high water at springs which gives a stand of 2 hours. At neaps there is a long stand.

  • Standard Port Southampton
  • Waypoint 50º51´.0N 01º18´.50W
  • Hamble Harbour Radio
  • All vessels should monitor VHF Channel 68 when underway in the harbour
  • A river wide 6 knot speed limit with a wash limit commences at Beacon Number 1

On approach from the Solent and Calshot the first thing you see is the Hamble Point Cardinal Mark Southerly Cardinal – Q(6)+LF1. 15s).

On approaching from Southampton ensure the Hamble Beacon Number 2 (Easterly Cardinal Q (3) 10s) is observed – and be aware that depending on the state of the tide shoaling occurs to the north of the beacon.

Two sector lights, both showing red, white and green, give guidance into the entrance of the river. The white light indicates the area of the main channel.
The first sector light is located at Hamble Point (Oc (2) WRG 12s, 351°-W 353° - leads 352° into the River entrance.

Midway between No.5 and 7 beacons alter course 028° in the white sector from the second sector light at Warsash (Iso WRG 6s) 027° - W - 029°.

Beacon number 2 is an Easterly Cardinal mark ( Q(3) 10s 2M)

Beacons 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 are green, lit and fitted with radar reflectors.

Beacons 4, 6, 8 and 10 are red, lit and fitted with radar reflectors.

Caution is required at low water, depending on the state of the tide, as some marks stand in shallow water.

The main channel into the river opens up as the life boat jetty is reached.

Four starboard hand buoys, which are lit, indicate the channel on the starboard side and a Preferred Channel to Starboard Mark (Fl (2+1)R.10s) at the southern end of the visitors pontoon (pile coloured Red – Green – Red) indicates the port hand side of the main channel.

The area immediately south of the visitors pontoon is an area of navigational concern as vessels alter course to approach Hamble Point Marina.

Large cruise vessels

Large cruise vessels enter the Hamble during the summer. In strong wind conditions handling is more difficult at low speeds. Smaller craft should keep clear.

Dinghy racing

Some dinghy races start and finish in the river. Competitors are asked to keep clear of other river users, who should respect to those racing.


There is no rule against sailing in the river. Yachts should have motors available and lower sails when the river becomes overcrowded.

Yachts and dinghies should not hoist their spinnaker in the busy waters above the Warsash Maritime Academy.

Vessels longer than 20 metres

These vessels must call Hamble Harbour Radio (Channel 68) on entry or before getting underway.


Complete the towing form for all tows of 22 metres or more, including towing vessels.

Public Hards and Slipways

For locations of the hards and slipways which provide access to the River Hamble see the Public Slipways Guide.