Leisure Activities in The Solent and Southampton Water

Our port is situated in one of the most popular areas on the UK for every conceivable type of water based leisure activity, and as a Harbour Authority, ABP Southampton has a responsibility to ensure everyone can use the water safely, and in harmony with each other.

To help achieve safe and co-ordinated use of the Harbour Area, ABP (often in conjunction with neighbouring Harbour Authorities) has issued some useful guidance which can be found on this web site, and also provides services such as our recreational events listings to help organisers de-conflict any events they may be planning.

As well as browsing this web site, please refer to our "Marine Leisure Guide" (see below)

Important Information for Event Organisers

Please follow this link for further information on recreational events: 

Recreational Events - Southampton VTS - ABP Southampton

Marine Incidents

Have you been involved in, or witnessed a marine incident? Please report it HERE.

Marine Leisure Guide

Printable version now available

Click here to view a full copy of the Marine Leisure Guide online.

The supplementary Charlet can be downloaded HERE

Some facts you should keep in mind:

What can you do?

Avoid sailing in the commercial ship channels, especially in poor visibility. Obey Rule 9 of the ColRegs for conduct in narrow channels by keeping to the starboard side of the channel and crossing only when this does not impede the passage of a large vessel that can safely navigate only within the narrow channel.

Do not underestimate the speed of ships. If you boat is slow, allow sufficient time to take effective evasive action in the vicinity of large ships.

Be visible. At night make sure your navigation lights can be seen. If you see the navigation lights of a vessel and you think you have not been seen, get out of the way. Use torches, search lights or a spotlight on sails, or fire a white flare to indicate your position. Carry a radar reflector high on your boat. Remember, from the bridge of a loaded container ship or large tanker, the captain or pilot will lose sight of you a third of a mile ahead, although you can see the ship at all times!

Be alert. Look around every so often, especially astern.

Keep watch at night. Even on a clear night you will have difficulty seeing a big ship approach. You might see it first as a black shadow against a background of shore lights, or as a growing shadow – at that point you are not far apart. Remember that your lights will not be easily spotted from the ship.

Watch the ship’s lights. If you see both sidelights, you are dead ahead – MOVE OUT FAST. Be aware that ships alter course at WEST BRAMBLE and CALSHOT. You must be sure of your position and be aware of other vessels operating around you.

Know whistle signals. Five or more short blasts on the whistle means "Your Intentions are unclear". Check and see if it is for you - and if it is - GIVE WAY. Three short blasts means “My engines are gong astern”.

Know flag signals and shapes.  A large ship which displays a cylinder on her yardarm during the day or three red lights in a vertical line at night indicates that the ship is severely restricted in her manoeuvrability. Please give her a wide berth.

Keep your VHF R/T tuned to channel 12, the Port working frequency, and listen for traffic information from Vessel Traffic Services; Call Sign VTS 
If you believe you have not been seen or you are unsure of a ship’s intentions, call them on channel 12, then shift to a working frequency (6 or an alternative) for internship safety messages.