The below reflects National and International legislation and guidance, and is in addition to any rules stipulated by the Harbour Authority in the form of Byelaws and Directions.  CLick to download

Pleasure vessels are vessels used for sport or recreational purposes and do not operate for financial gain. Pleasure vessels of any size are subject to legislation and the owners/skippers/masters/operators liable to prosecution. SOLAS (safety of life at sea) Chapter V and subsequent UK legislation applies.

If you are involved in a boating accident and it is subsequently shown that you have not applied the basic principles, you may be breaking the law and could ultimately face a fine and/or imprisonment. More information is available from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency at and particularly in MGN 489 (M).   

Get Trained – It is sensible to undertake some form of training; if you do get trained you will be far less likely to be involved in a maritime incident. If you get into difficulty you will also know how to get the right help quickly, reducing the impact of your problem; Check the weather and tides – Always check the weather and tidal conditions before you set out so that you can prepare accordingly. At sea changes in tidal streams could make conditions worse, particularly if the wind and tide are against each other. Tidal heights may hide underwater hazards;   

Wear a lifejacket – a lifejacket that is properly serviced and maintained will significantly increase your survival chances if you fall overboard. It should be fitted with a light, whistle and spray hood and if possible crotch straps to stop the lifejacket riding up over your head;

Avoid alcohol – If you have been drinking alcohol, your judgement will be impaired and you will be more likely to make mistakes, which at sea could be life threatening;   You dont drink and drive a car so dont do it on a boat either.

Keep in touch – Tell someone responsible ashore where you are going and what time you expect to return so they are able to let the Coastguard know if you are missing; and   

Wear the kill cord – if your boat is fitted with a kill cord, please ensure the driver wears it. If the driver ends up falling overboard, it may help save their life and the lives of others who may also be in the water.

Voyage Planning (SOLAS Regulation V/34)

Voyage planning is basically common sense. As a pleasure vessel user, you should particularly take into account the following points when planning a boating trip:   

  • Weather: before you go boating, check the weather forecast and get regular updates if you are planning to be out for any length of time.
  • Tides: check the tidal predictions for your trip and ensure that they fit with what you are planning to do.  
  • Limitations of the vessel: consider whether your vessel is up to the proposed trip and that you have sufficient safety equipment and stores with you.  
  • Crew: take into account the experience and physical ability of your crew. Crews suffering from cold, tiredness and seasickness won’t be able to do their job properly and could result in an overburdened skipper.  
  • Navigational dangers: make sure you are familiar with any navigational dangers you may encounter during your boating trip. This generally means checking an up- to-date chart and a current pilot book or almanac.
  • Contingency plan: always have a contingency plan in case something goes wrong. Before you go, consider places where you can take refuge should conditions deteriorate or if you suffer an incident or injury. Bear in mind that your GPS set is vulnerable and could fail at the most inconvenient time. This might be due to problems with electrical systems, jamming or interference with the signals or meteorological activity. It is sensible and good practice to make sure you are not over-reliant on your GPS set and that you have sufficient skills and information (charts, almanac and pilot book) to navigate yourself to safety without it should it fail.
  • Information ashore: make sure that someone ashore knows your plans and knows what to do should they become concerned for your wellbeing. The MCA recommends downloading the RYA SafeTrx App on your mobile or tablet (replaces the CG66 system) which is free and easy to use. The scheme aims to help the Coastguard to help you quickly should you get into trouble while boating. It could save your life. MORE INFO ON SafeTrx.

Lifesaving Appliances

Pleasure vessels less than 13.7m in length do not need to comply with any national or international regulations whilst in UK waters, but the strong guidance is that there should be sufficient lifesaving appliances onboard for the number of persons carried. Also, means of communications (VHF and mobile phone) and attracting attention (pyrotechnics).

Radar Reflectors (SOLAS Regulation V/19)

Many large ships rely on radar for navigation and for spotting other vessels in their vicinity. So, whatever size your boat is, it is important to make sure that you can be seen by radar. This means if it is possible to use a radar reflector on your boat then you should use one. You should fit the largest radar reflector in terms of Radar Cross Section (RCS) that you can. Whatever length your boat is, the radar reflector should be fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and as high as possible to maximise its effectiveness.

Life-saving Signals (SOLAS Regulation V/29)

You should have access to an illustrated table of the recognized life-saving signals, so that you can communicate with the search and rescue services, or other vessels, if you get into trouble. You can get a free copy of this table in a leaflet produced by the MCA, available at , or you can find it in various nautical publications. If your vessel is not suitable for carrying a copy of the table on board (because it is small or very exposed), make sure you have studied the table before you go boating.


Distress/Assistance (SOLAS Regulations V/31, V/32, V/33)

You are required to let the Coastguard and any other vessels in the vicinity know if you encounter anything that could cause a serious hazard to navigation, if it has not already been reported. You can do this by calling the Coastguard on VHF, if you have a radio onboard, or by telephoning them at the earliest opportunity. The Coastguard will then warn other vessels in the area and you are required to respond to any distress signal that you see or hear and help anyone or any vessel in distress as best you can.


Misuse of Distress Signals (SOLAS Regulation V/35)

You are prohibited from misusing any distress signals. These are critical to safety at sea and by misusing them you could put your or someone else’s life at risk.


The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS)

With respect to navigation and collision avoidance, any person in charge of any vessel that proceeds to sea, irrespective of size, is required to comply with the Merchant Shipping (Distress Signals & Prevention of Collisions) Regulations. These UK regulations implement the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea and it is of paramount importance that all persons in charge of vessels at sea comply with them. They are contained within the merchant shipping regulations which also set out the penalties for non-compliance. A breach of the regulations could result in a substantial fine or custodial sentence. Copies of the requirements can also be obtained from yacht chandlers or found in various other publications such as nautical almanacs.

The Regulations apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters navigable by seagoing vessels and require that all vessels that proceed to sea are correctly provided with, and exhibit, navigation lights, shapes and sound signalling devices consistent with the vessels' length, type and circumstances. Navigation lights are required if the vessel is likely to operate at night or in poor visibility by day.   

While special rules may be made by an appropriate authority for roadsteads, harbours, rivers, lakes or inland waterways connected with the high seas and navigable by seagoing vessels, such special rules shall conform as closely as possible to the COLREGS.   

The COLREGS consist of the following sections:
Part A – General
Part B – Steering and Sailing Rules
Part C – Lights and Shapes
Part D – Sound and Light Signals Part E – Exemptions
Annex I – Positioning and technical details of lights and shapes
Annex II – Additional signals for fishing vessels fishing in close proximity
Annex III – Technical details of sound signal appliances
Annex IV – Distress signals
The COLREGS are reproduced in MSN 1781 available at

Pollution Prevention

The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) covers the control of several types of ship-generated pollution. The Convention’s various Annexes are transposed in UK legislation. Generally all pollution prevention legislation applies to all vessels, including pleasure vessels of all sizes, and includes controls on the discharge of waste into the sea from ships. The best practice advice is to return all waste generated on board to shore waste reception facilities.   



The MS (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations sets out provisions for the control of ship generated sewage and garbage.   
Although no specific provisions are made in the regulations for vessels less than 400GT, pleasure vessels should consider the impact when discharging sewage from a sea toilet or holding tank into the sea. Best practice advice is to return all waste generated on board to shore waste reception facilities but this is not always possible or practical. Holding tanks if fitted should be used and should only be emptied at pump out stations or when more than 3 miles offshore in the open sea where waste will be quickly diluted and dispersed by wave action and currents. On vessels without a holding tank avoid the use of toilets in poor tidal flushing areas by using marina/shore facilities whenever possible.  



Regulations 26 to 28 and 30 of the MS (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations, apply to pleasure vessels.
The disposal of any garbage other than food wastes is prohibited. (English Channel Special Area).
Food wastes must be disposed of more than 3 miles from the nearest land.
However, it is best not to dispose of anything at sea and wait until you return to land your waste ashore.   



The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations, in general require that oil should be retained onboard for disposal to shore reception facilities. 


Use of Antifouling Paints

The Merchant Shipping (Anti-Fouling Systems) Regulations, provides the legal framework required in the UK for the offences and penalties in relation to EC Regulation EC 782/2003 on the prohibition of organotin compounds on ships. The UK Regulations also implement the IMO’s International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships.   

Under EC Regulation 782/2003 it became compulsory for all ships in the European Economic Area (EEA) not to apply or re-apply organotin compounds which act as biocides in anti-fouling systems from the 1st July 2003. The UK Regulations, which apply enforcement provisions, came into force on 1 December 2009. The Regulations apply to all ships including pleasure vessels of any size.    



All pleasure vessels fitted with a marine diesel engine of over 130 kW must comply with the emissions standards in the Recreational Craft Directive (EC Directive 94/25/EC, as amended). Further guidance on emissions from pleasure vessels can be found in MSN 1819 available at      
Unsafe use of the vessel (any vessel of any size)
Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act deals with conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals, and section 100 of the same Act deals with unsafe operation of a vessel.
More guidance is available at:-
RNLI Respect the Water and FLOAT
MCA MGN591 - Safe Access to Fishing Vessels and Small Vessels in Port
GMDSS, VHF and DSC Procedures for Small Boat Users


Newhaven Harbour Byelaws

Below are listed the most relevant and important byelaws Port users should be aware of. Contravening the byelaws is an offence liable to prosecution. Copies of the full version are available to view upon request to the Harbour Master.

1/. All vessels will obey the Port Traffic Signals and directions given by the Harbour Master or his assistants and will only berth or moor as directed.
2/. No vessel will be operated within port limits without a competent Master or Pilot in charge.
5/. No vessel to delay or disrupt the operation of the Ferry.
6/. Speed limit of 8 knots south of the East Pier Light and 5 knots north of the East Pier Light.
7/. All vessels shall be sufficiently manned, have sufficient moorings and working anchors.
8/. Vessels will only berth, moor, anchor, load or unload in a place as directed and will shift if required as directed. Vessels shall not then move without permission.
14/. Vessels will only moor using the bollards, posts and rings provided.
15/. There must be enough qualified and competent persons available at all times to tend the moorings and shift a vessel if required.
17/. No vessel will obstruct the free passage of any part of the harbour.
29/. No road vehicle to obstruct or impede the use of any quays or port land.
41/. No dangerous materials allowed without permission.
42/. No construction materials to be deposited in the river without permission.
43/. No pollution allowed.
44/. No dumping or discarding of rubbish, refuse, disused boats, gear or any other material.
51/. Anybody within the harbour without lawful business to be there may be removed from it.
54/. No person shall obstruct, impede, molest or interrupt the Harbour Master or any Port Authority employee during the execution of their duties.
57/. No person will interfere with lights or signals.
58/. No person will damage or deface port property.
59/. No person will damage or deface port notices.
60/. No person shall exhibit notices without permission.
61/. There shall be no public or general meetings or addresses within the port without permission.
62/. No person will be a nuisance within the harbour.
65/. No person will enter port property without permission.
66/. No person will be intoxicated, use bad language, be riotous or indecent.
68/. No fishing within the harbour limits without permission.  No swimming or bathing within the harbour limits.
69/. No stone or missile throwing. No firing guns or fireworks without permission.
71/. Dogs to be under control.
73/. No selling of merchandise or touting without permission.

Jet skis/PWC’s  

Jet Skis/PWC’s must keep to the speed limits within the harbour and not cause a nuisance to other port users with their speed, wash or noise. They must abide by all rules and regulations applicable to all other port users and obey the traffic signals.All Jet Skies launching into the harbour are strongly recommended to use Simpsons Marine Slipway as the only safe and controlled slip for their entry and exit within the harbour.

All Jet Ski owners must complete a registration form and be on a database which was compiled and is maintained by a joint initiative comprising of the Port Authority, Simpsons Marine and individuals from the Jet Ski community. 

Failure to comply with the rules will result in:-

1st Offence – Verbal warning from Simpson Marine staff/Port Authority staff.
2nd Offence – Verbal warning from Port Authority staff/Harbour Master.
3rd Offence - Written notice from the Harbour Master and you will be barred from the harbour and may face prosecution.

Notwithstanding any of the above, the Harbour Master reserves the right to prosecute any port user if the offence committed warrants such action. This means a summons to the Magistrates Court, following which, a successful prosecution will result in the offender having a criminal record, in addition to a fine. The most serious offences may be dealt with by the MCA and the offender liable to imprisonment.It is strongly recommended that all jet skiers wear floatation devices and carry some form of communication such as a mobile phone or a marine band VHF radio listening on channel 12.


Simpsons Slipway Rules

Below are several links which will be of use to pleasure boat users of Newhaven Harbour. Users should also familiarise themselves with the port details page.

Newhaven Marina Newhaven Marina is situated a quarter of a mile in from the harbour entrance on the western bank of the River Ouse. The Marina offers good shelter at all times and is accessible in all weathers and all tides. It has moorings for up to 300 craft from 7.5 metre to 15.5 metre. 
Simpson Marine Simpson Marine is a family run business established in Newhaven in the early 1980s. They provide new and used boat sales, brokerage, inflatable dinghies, chandlery, outboards, electronics, storage and slipway. 
Newhaven Yacht Club Newhaven Yacht Club is a friendly cruising club that supports new and experienced sailors (motorboats, day boats and yachts). They run rallies across the channel to France and along the South Coast, and encourage all aspects of Sea Safety.
Newbury Engineering Sub-Search Marine Services is a local firm specialising in general marine fabrication, construction of commercial steel vessels, workboats and tugs. 01273 515699.
Peter Leonard Marine

Peter Leonard Marine. All makes of inboard, outboard and sterndrives repaired and serviced. Mercruiser, Mercury, Yanmar, Cummins Mercruiser, Volkswagen, Vetus, Bukh, Mermaid main service and repair agents. Shipwright facilities, inc. bow thruster installation, painting and rigging repairs. Full boatyard facilities including crane out, hose off and antifoul application. Fully stocked chandlery, boat sales, online chandlery and engine spares department. 

Meeching Boats Meeching Boats are located North side of Denton Island, North of Newhaven swing bridge, offers Tidal pontoon boat moorings, boatyard for D.I.Y or storage, GRP repair workshop, very competitive rates with friendly, courteous service, established 1966. Address: Meeching Boats, Denton Island, Newhaven, East Sussex, BN9 9BA Contact telephone: (01273) 514907 Contact: Ian Johns


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