Recreational Safety Points For The Solent


Queen's Harbour Master Portsmouth

LNTM No 5/14

  1. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN by the Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth, to draw attention to basic safety measures, the risks to themselves and others, to assist in keeping marine risks as low as practicable and so that awareness is increased as to the dangers associated with Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs).
  2. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) have published a report into the tragic deaths of a father and daughter thrown from a RIB travelling at high speed. Neither were wearing a lifejacket, the hydraulic steering of the RIB was in poor condition and they were carrying no basic safety provisions. The full MAIB report on this accident is available at
    More recently, following the tragic deaths of two people and serious injuries to two others in May 2013, the MAIB published a Safety Bulletin, reiterating the vital importance of using a "kill-cord". This Safety Bulletin is available at:
  3. WEARING OF SUITABLE LIFEJACKETS/CARRYING OF LIFESAVING EQUIPMENT (INCLUDING FLARES) While not a legal requirement for certain types of small private recreational craft; the habit of routinely wearing both appropriate (for size and hazard) and suitably tested lifejackets cannot be emphasised sufficiently as a minimum precaution to such exposed personnel (especially children). This characteristic alone can dramatically increase both survival and rescue probability. The Volunteer Harbour Patrol (VHP) in Portsmouth will additionally remind such mariners of the importance of this procedure whenever possible.
  4. SAFE SPEED The maintenance of a safe speed at all times, within the declared speed limit where appropriate, is directly proportional to risk to both life and property. Not only is this relevant to the occupants of the “speeding” vessel but also to those who encounter the associated wake. GD 04 / 13 (Speed Limits) is and will continue to be strictly enforced by QHM.
  5. VHF GUARD Within the Solent and especially within the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth (due to the traffic density) the continual monitoring and significance of carrying a portable VHF set (or better) and a good VHF guard by all mariners is integral to both alerting and subsequent rescue operations. This is detailed at LNTM 01 / 14. The essential use of VHF for all craft to safely transit and cross the harbour (see GD 07 / 10 – Portsmouth Harbour Entrance and Small Boat Channel) reaffirms this and reminds the recreational user that help is only a call away.
  6. GOOD LOOKOUT Again this is so simple but so vital to all mariners and can quickly save lives if followed diligently and alarm raised if in doubt.
  7. SPECIAL OPERATIONS Portsmouth Harbour and approaches are frequently used for unique military operations when special forces small attack training craft are permitted to exceed the speed limit and other safety requirements under dedicated risk assessment criteria (see LNTM 07 / 14 – Fast transits by military craft). Furthermore specific risk assessments for recreational events are also required (see LNTM 04 / 14) to ensure all the hazards have been minimised to an acceptable level. This is controlled by QHM and the local mariner needs to remain alert to their existence, activity and relevance.
  8. BOAT LICENSING REGULATIONS For the small pleasure boat user who hires out or has paying guests there is a legal requirement to achieve successful inspection and certification on an annual basis. Details of this are to be found at and follow “downloads-general” for SASHMA Boats & Boatmen licence guidelines.
  9. REPORTING DAMAGE OR INCIDENTS See GD 01 / 13 on directions to follow.
  10. WEBSITE ADVICE/INFORMATION The following sites are all relevant to enhancing recreational safety on the water and worthy of revisiting and updating before returning afloat this year. Annual summaries of notices in force have recently been issued to assist.
  11. Finally all mariners are reminded of the importance of a good appreciation of likely weather to be encountered (including fog) on their planned passage especially taking into account the heavy density of all types of traffic in the Solent throughout the year. Ensuring such basic precautions are followed will improve safety and enjoyment for all local users.
  12. Portsmouth LNTM 06 / 13 is hereby superseded.

S O Hopper
Queen's Harbour Master