Southampton Navigation and Pilotage

Speed Limit

Above Dock Head, which is easily identified by large silos, Southampton Water divides into the River Test and the River Itchen and there is a speed limit of 6 knots in both rivers.


Southampton is a busy commercial port with many large tankers, container ships, ferries and cruise ships arriving and departing at all times.  Skippers of pleasure craft should monitor Southampton VTS on VHF Channel 12 for shipping movements when in or near Southampton Water.

The main channel is narrow between Fawley Marine Terminal on the west side and the BP Jetty on the east side so be prepared to keep clear of large tankers manoeuvring in this area.  See


The main channels are well marked and pleasure craft should keep just outside the buoyed lit fairway.

When crossing the main channel, do so at 90° at the recommended crossing points abeam Fawley chimney, at Cadland and Greenland buoys, abeam Hythe and abeam Town Quay.

Beware of several large, unlit mooring buoys off Hythe on both sides of the main channel.


Pleasure craft skippers should be aware there is an extensive container port in the River Test and also high speed and vehicle ferry terminals at Town Quay.

Care is also necessary in the River Itchen, especially at night, as above the Itchen Bridge the channel bends sharply to port and favours the west bank.  There are also unlit moorings in the centre of the river.  Navigation above Northam Bridge is not advised.

Please Note: Navigation and pilotage notes are provided for general information only and it is essential to use an up to date chart and pilot book for navigation purposes

Southampton Charts

Admiralty Charts

SC5600        Solent and Approaches (Small Craft Chart Folio)
2036            The Solent and Southampton Water
2038            Southampton Water and Approaches
2041            Port of Southampton

Imray Charts

C3               Isle of Wight
C15             The Solent: Bembridge to Hurst Point and Southampton
2200            Solent Chart Pack

Southampton Tides

Admiralty Easytide
Tidal predictions for Southampton for the next 7 days