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Portsmouth Harbour, (inc. Port Solent and Fareham)

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


None Given


Admiralty 2036, 2037, 2045, 2628, 2629, 2631, SC5600

Rules & Regulations

Boats under 20m must use Small Boat Channel, All must keep watch on VHF Ch 11 (in entrance), 10Knts Speed Limit in Harbour. Must Keep 50m Away from MOD Ships and Property, and 100m away from submarines.


Narrow Busy Entrance with Strong Tidal Flows

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW +0029 Dover, MHWS 4.7m, MHWN 3.8m, MLWN 1.9m, MLWS 0.8m Tide tables:   (links)

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General Description

For the small craft mariner, Portsmouth is unmissable. The entrance is subject to strong tidal streams, very narrow, tightly controlled, and extremely busy. Once through the entrance things open right up, and deeper within there are vast drying areas traversed by well marked channels. The visiting yachtsman or motorboater will find numerous mooring opportunities. Portsmouth is a historic Naval City, and everywhere you go will be reminded of this. For those with a love of the sea it is a must.

From the days of Henry VIII and the capsising of the Mary Rose right up to the modern nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers, Portsmouth has seen them all. The visitor will have ample choices to look at various exhibits and restored vessels, from the remains of the Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, and various submarines at Haslar.

The harbour is naturally formed with an entrance only around 200 m wide, and with a tremendous number of large ship movements you can expect a ship movement through the entrance roughly every five minutes. Extreme care is required with the harbour being under control of the Queen's Harbour Master, whos' staff are usually afloat  shepherding small craft mariners through the entrance.

There are a raft of rules and regulations (c/w dire penalties for transgressions) to ensure that accidents don't occur in the narrow entrance.

Once through the narrow entrance and past the dockyards the harbour opens right up with several deeper channels amidst the large drying areas. There are several marinas and mooring options to choose from, with three being virtually within half a mile of the entrance. Other options include swinging moorings or pushing on up to Fareham or Port Solent Marina.

The upper reaches of the harbour can provide sheltered waters for sailing dinghies, and there are adequate launching facilities for trailer sailers.

Virtually all the needs for the boat can be met in the Portsmouth area, but the marinas that take visitors are mainly on the Western side. Stocking up and day-to-day needs for the boat can be met in Gosport on this side, but a trip to the city will need a short ferry ride across the harbour.

Shopaholics will be in their glory on the Portsmouth side, and anyone generally interested in Britain's illustrious seafaring history won't be disappointed either.

All in all Portsmouth is well worth a visit but due care must be taken transiting the narrow entrance. Full details of how to go about this are now given...


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Pilotage directions for Portsmouth Harbour...  Before making any attempt at entry, it will be wise to read through and understand the rules and regulations regarding the boat channel. These are published in the "More Info" section of our coverage.  Note main entrance channel and small craft channel have changed, QHM notice(s)


The  next thing is to have your VHF radio switched to channel 11,  as all vessels without radios need an escort in or out of the harbour. Finally you must use your engine in the closer approach, from the region of the No.4 red can buoy.   It is essential to understand that small craft entering and leaving are obliged to use the small craft channel now described....

It is craziness to try and sail into this harbour, firstly the boat channel is very narrow at 50 m, secondly the wind is extremely fluky in the entrance, thirdly there are strong tidal cross sets, and finally the consequences of ending up helpless in the narrow channel in front of a ferry bearing down on you don't bear thinking about.

Also bear in mind that the tide can flow out of the entrance at up to 5 kn around three hours after high water springs, so it's essential to consult the tide tables to know what to expect.

These warnings aside, providing a sharp eye out is kept ahead and astern at all times the entrance can be made in safety. There is room for ships to be transiting and for boats in the small boat channel at the same time providing everyone follows the rules.

If approaching from the West the small boat Mariner has two choices, either to pass inshore of the Hamilton Bank or to use the Swashway channel between Hamilton Bank and the Spit Bank.

Inner Swashway Channel.

The former passage called the Inner Swashway is officially recommended only for people with local knowledge, but in practice many yachts use it with a suitable rise of the tide and attention to the charts. Boats over 20 m long are forbidden to use this channel.

To avoid the inner end of the drying Hamilton Bank, it is necessary to keep within one cable of the wall of Fort Blockhouse for the last two cables run in towards the lit red beacon "BC Outer" (Oc.R.15s). This beacon acts as a traffic separation mark; treat it as an anti clockwise mini roundabout and leave it to port whether inbound or outbound remembering when inbound, having passed it, you need a tight turn to port to stop from overshooting into the big ship channel, and, of course, when outbound not to run onto the putty on your starborad side!

Entry via the Small Boat Channel.

Follow the small boat channel in close to the wall on your port side, and be aware that if any small boats are coming out you must allow them room to pass between you and the wall. At the same time you must not drift into the main channel. There's not much room but it is sufficient.

Identify and make for the red lit Ballast Beacon (Fl.R.2.5s) and pass it closely on your port side (unless of course you are going to Haslar marina, in which case you can turn to port and make for the conspicuous lightship while obviously watching for oncoming traffic in the small boat channel).  The Ballast Beacon is in the middle of the Small Ship Channel and should be left to port inbound or outbound thus separating inbound and outbound traffic. If heading on up the harbour you need to watch out for traffic crossing you from the Portsmouth side to join the Small Ship Channel.

Swashway Channel.

The Swashway Channel as mentioned before leads between Hamilton Bank and the Spit Bank. This carries a bit more water (minimum 1.8 m). By steering about 50° and lining up the War Memorial on the foreshore together with the right hand edge of yellowish coloured conspicuous apartment building you will be in this channel.

Continue inwards on this transit until the depths underneath you quickly increase to 5 m plus. At this stage make a 90° swing to port, locate and identify the No.4 red can buoy (Q.R) leaving it close on your starboard side.

Continue towards the harbour entrance and leave the red beacon "BC Outer" (Oc.R.15s) very close to port, and then follow the instructions given above.

You may encounter Fast Cats and Hovercraft in this approach, so keep a weather eye behind you, esp. when about to change course.

From The East.

When approaching from the East it is necessary to go south of Horse Sand Fort as there is a submerged barrier lurking just under the water. The unwary and unprepared may get away with sailing over the top of this at high water, but at any other time these concrete blocks can do you severe damage. They were built to stop submarines and they'll stop you !  There are two passages through this barrier showing clearly on the charts and a shortcut through the Main Passage which is lit could save a detour. Consultations with the tidetables are obligatory.

Once through this gap, or past the fort it is simply a matter of keeping well out of the ship Channel and heading towards Southsea leaving all the green buoyage well off on your port side.

At some stage the shipping channel will have to be crossed to line you up for picking up the small boat channel.  You should cross at right angles wherever it is safe to do so. You must make your crossing before the red can No.4 buoy (Q.R), as it is forbidden to cross the Channel further in than that.

Once across on the Western side of the Channel follow the red buoyage, staying just outside the channel and leaving these buoys to starboard. The entry details given already can now be followed.

At night entry is not impossible. Because of the background shore lights making it difficult to identify navigation lights of small craft on the move and generally making everything very confusing it is not recommended for a first visit.

A link to the Queen's Harbourmaster's website is provided below:


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Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

For the visiting yachtsman or motorboater there are plenty of opportunities for berthing your boat within this historic harbour.  Very close to the entrance on the Gosport side there are three marinas one after the other,  Haslar Marina,  Gosport Marina,  and the Royal Clarence Marina.  All have visitors berths available. Finding a mooring on the Portsmouth side is more difficult.  There seems little to choose between the various facilities; Haslar is closest to the Gosport Ferry terminal, Gunwharf Quay has mixed reports and  might be a risky choice (especially as the mooring fee here = mooring fee at Haslar plus ferry ticket)  You may, of course, have a loyalty card which gives you a discount at one marina rather than another; all the marinas belong to one group or another.

Much deeper within the harbour will be found the self-contained Port Solent Marina,  while there are also swinging moorings,  drying berths at Fareham,  and anchoring possibilities.  To find out where to moor your boat, and how much you'll have to pay, expand this section...The first thing that needs to be got out of the way gets back to the rules and regulations.

If you are planning to cross the harbour from the Ballast Beacon to the eastern side with the intention of berthing at Gunwharf Quays Marina or Camber Dock you need to contact the Harbour Master on VHF channel 11.

Gunwharf Quays will accept visitors, but you should ensure that they have a berth for you before calling on VHF to cross; you wont be popular milling around in the way of the Isle of White ferry whilst trying to find a berth!

Having sorted out a berth on this side, call the Harbour Master for permission to cross the harbour. Likewise when emerging from the eastern side permission is required to cross to the small boat channel.

On the Western side within a short distance of the entrance lie three marinas, firstly Haslar Marina, secondly Gosport Marina, and thirdly the Royal Clarence Marina. Dealing with these in the order in which you will encounter them we start with Haslar Marina.

Haslar Marina.

This is the first Marina you will see as you enter the harbour, laying on your port hand side. It is easily recognisable by the lurid green light ship painted with huge white lettering saying "HASLAR MARINA".

Dedicated visitors berths are available and they are located on the pontoon immediately behind this lightship, and marked on the chart. Access is available at all state of the tide, staff on hand 24 hours a day and good security with cameras and lights.

To check the availability of berths call Marina on VHF channel 80, or telephone 023 9260 1201. The prices here (2016) are £3.35 per metre per day at weekends (Friday and Saturday), £3.25 per metre per day midweek(Sunday to Thursday). Short stays are under £10. Winter rates are substantially cheaper being £2.00 per metre per day. For full details check their website below:

Excellent facilities are available here with water and electricity (free for one night stops)on the pontoons. Electricity connections are via standard marina plugs now, so leads do not have to be hired...this was a gripe in the past. Toilets, showers, a launderette and restaurant are available on the lightship. The Marina office has telephones and fax machines, while bottled gas can be obtained from the on-site chandlery. Wi-fi and an internet cafe complete the picture.

Fuel is not available here, but nearby at Gosport Marina's fuel jetty.

A whole range of marine services are available on site or nearby, for details check the directory. The boat scrubbing facility unfortunately shut a while ago.

Within the lightship is a bar and restaurant, very convenient for the visitors berths. Also on-site is a bistro and wine bar located near the car park.

In general this Marina has a very good reputation with excellent shelter and superb facilities to match, at prices that are not unreasonable.

Local facilities in Gosport town are covered a bit later.

Gosport Marina.

This is the next Marina up on the Western side, and was more well known as "Camper and Nicholson's Marina" up to 2004. It lies a couple of cables north of Haslar Marina, and just north of the Ballast Beacon and maintains 150 visitors berths with varying depths. Call them up on VHF channel 80, callsign "Gosport Marina" or telephone 023 9252 4811. Staff are on hand 24 hours. A link to their website is provided below:


Large yachts can be accommodated here, but the outer berths can be subject to wash making them potentially uncomfortable.

All the usual facilities are available with water and electricity (included in the berthing fee) on the pontoons and showers and launderette ashore. The fuel berth at the southern entrance to this Marina is open from 9 AM to 5:45 PM in the summer, but closes at 2:45 PM in the winter months. Good attention to fendering will be necessary as this area is subject to surge and wash.  Berthing fees (2016) are around £3.10 per metre per day in the season with a minimum charge of £24.80;  short stays £1.38 per metre with a minimum charge of £10 but free if taking on fuel. Berthing charges run mid-day to mid-day. Wifi is available and the first four hours is included in the mooring fee.

Caution.  If you see a large blue boat attached to the outer end of the Gosport Fuel Jetty (that long curving arm encompassing the The Gosport Marina and the RNSA Pontoons) it will have mooring lines stretching to the No1 Dolphin (Dir.WRG.2m1M & 2F.R(vert))right across the entrance. If entering the Gosport Marina you need to pass to the west of that dolphin and the next one just to the north of it. The berth that the blue ship (the Cambrian) is moored to is known locally as the Oil Fuel Jetty (OFJ) and will have divers on it from time to time this spring and early summer so keep an ear and eye out for that as well.

Excellent facilities for the boat are available on site and nearby, with the old Camper and Nicholson's yard now being called "Endeavour Quay" and able to handle vessels up to 180 tonnes. Check the directory to see the scope of businesses based here. There is a new "eatery" here called the Boat House Cafe which caters for breakfast, lunch and evening meal.

Royal Clarence Marina.

On the West side again, just north of Gosport Marina lies the Royal Clarence Marina. This is set in a former Royal Navy victualling yard that dealt with feeding and watering the Portsmouth Fleet in the 18th and 19th century.

The Marina benefits from very deep water and good shelter, and can handle very large yachts of up to 65 m. The entrance is marked by a series of green posts which need to be left on your starboard side as they mark drying banks.

The Marina can be contacted on VHF channel 80 callsign " Royal Clarence Marina", or telephone 02392 523523. Link to website provided below:


All the normal facilities are available here with electricity and water on the pontoons, showers, toilets and launderette. WiFi Internet access is available, and more facilities are coming on stream all the time.  Shoreside facilities have improved since it was first opened and it now boasts an on-site upmarket restaurant as well as an on-site convenience store. The historic naval storehouses have been converted to "des resses" and since it first became a marina with a lack of local attractions is now a place with an attractive character and a wealth of choices both within the marina and just outside (The Clarence Tavern comes well recommended).

Prices during the season (2016)  are based on boat length above 9 mtres,and are £2.75 per metre per night. Shore power is £2.50 per night.

This covers the first three marinas on your port side as you enter, the eastern side is now covered followed by the northern part of Portsmouth, including Port Solent and Fareham.

The Eastern side of the Harbour.

On the Eastern side as you enter the harbour there are two possibilities for mooring, but before you approach either of them you will need to have arranged your berth. It is then a matter of calling the " Queen's Harbourmaster" on VHF channel 11 and asking for permission to cross the harbour. This should only be done after having passed the Ballast Beacon.

Gunwharf Quay.

The impression we had of this place a few years ago was that it was pretty exclusive but it is understood that the present management has been trying for several years to overcome its reputation for being interested only in the glitzy trade. They are now said to "welcome visiting yachts of all sizes" and it must be admitted, especially if you have the memsahib on board, it does have its attractions and is only a short walk to the heady night life of Old Portsmouth as opposed to a yomp and a ride on the Gosport Ferry (a doubtful delight) if in one of the marinas on the other side.

They are charging (2016) £3.70 per metre per night with a minimum of £29.60 (8m) and £1.20 per metre for a short stay (up to 4 hours) with a minimum of £9.60. Those prices include free water & shore power, along with free use of showers and laundrette.

Should you wish to try contacting them call " Gunwharf Berths" on VHF channel 80, or telephone 023 9283 6732. They advise that you should book in advance but that, if they have room, they would try to react favourably to a last minute request on channel 80. Unfortunately, it has to be said, they do suffer badly from wash from passing ships which can make it very uncomfortable, so much so that if they offer you a berth on the outside of the main pontoon I'd think twice about it

Any kind of manoeuvring in this area needs extreme care as the Wightlink car ferry has it's lair just to the south, and the Wightlink fast cat berths just to the north.

The Camber Docks and slipway.

This area belongs to Portsmouth Council, and is mainly used for berthing of fishing boats and other small commercial vessels. It may be possible to squeeze in past the Isle of Wight ferry berth and get tied up in here.

The quayside is not really yacht friendly, with girders and pilings, but it may be possible to tie up outside an inactive hulk. Otherwise with care and plenty of of fenders (and preferably a fender-board) it should be possible to get tied up somewhere, remembering that it will be necessary to tend lines, (4m+ rise and fall). The whole area is very sheltered.

Priority is given to commercial vessels, and moored boats are supposed to be attended at all times unless permission is obtained from the managing agents, who's details are given below. This outfit also operates a very efficient dry stacking yard for Trailer Sailers who'd rather not trail. Telephone Ken Brown Boats: 023 9283 3166, link to website below:


Before attempting to enter this area would be very wise to telephone these people to check it all out, and again you will need permission from the QHM before crossing the harbour to get here. Needless to say the berthing fees are very reasonable compared to any Marina, but facilities may be a bit thin on the ground. At least you're on the right side of the harbour for the action.

Getting away from the entrance area there are further mooring opportunities, and for the shoal draft cruiser there are anchoring possibilities in the Northern part of this historic harbour.

Fareham Lake.

Fareham lake is the Western channel into which the harbour divides north of the marinas on your port side and the docks on your starboard side. The eastern arm is called Portchester lake and leads to Port Solent marina which is covered shortly.

The lower part of Fareham Lake channel is identified by big ship moorings and laid up shipping. As you enter the Fareham Lake Channel, having passed Priddy's hard and almost due west of the junction between the Fareham Channel and the Porchester channel lies the Hardway Sailing Club pontoon.

Hardway Sailing Club

This club welcomes, nay encourages, visitors; their pontoon has water at the outer end at LWN but otherwise you can expect to dry out on soft mud which is very forgiving to fin keelers. They will ask you not to use the hammerhead at the outer end as it is used by members for loading and provisioning. Ashore there are good facilities including a club house open every eveing except Mondays and lunchtime Saturday & Sunday; they have a bar, galley along with showers and toilets which visitors are welcome to use. There is also a chandlery nearby and supplies of Calor/Camping Gas.

Pushing further north you will come to Bomb Ketch Lake and Spider Lake on your starboard side, recognisable by the numerous private moorings. At this point you should see a couple of southerly Cardinal marks, one of which is lit (VQ(6)LFl.10s), and these need to be left to starboard.

From now on channel is marked by piles (but only lit as far as Bedenham Pier, which should not be approached closer than 12 m). Shortly after passing this pier the channel leads to the pier and premises of Wicormarine on the eastern side.


Wicormarine is a traditional boatyard that has been around since 1966. It offers deep water swinging moorings and various pontoon and drying berths. Visitors are welcome to use spare moorings and the yard's facilities including the showers. Diesel (in smallish quantities) and water are available as well as Camping and Calor gas. On site chandlery and small provisions complete the picture here. Moorings are available at around £1.50 per metre per night, the nearby village of Porchester being able to provide further provisioning. Landing is made by dinghy to the pontoon at the end of the pier, available at most of the tidal range. Contact the yard on 01329 237112, or check the link to their website below:


Anyone planning to push on up to Fareham must take note of the overhead electricity cables which only have a safe clearance of 16 m at MHWS, and soon after Wicormarine depths rapidly shallow out in the channel. Normal draft yachts can get to Fareham two hours either side of high water.

Continuing onwards from this yard into Fareham itself, you will pass on your port hand side a large yard run by Portsmouth Marine Engineering who provide long-term drying berths. This is known as Fareham Yacht Harbour, and it may be possible to get a drying berths here when residents are away. Try telephoning them on 01329 232854, they charge a flat rate of £10.

Next up comes a pontoon belonging to Fareham Sailing and Motorboat Club, who may be able to offer you an overnight drying berth. Telephone 01329 280738 link provided below:


Next up comes the premises of Trafalgar Yacht Services, who do not offer berths but are well known specialists in the Westerly marque. Bilge keelers may be able to dry out on the hardstanding either side of the slipway, with access for shoal draft craft around two hours either side of high water.

Fareham Marina is the small outfit just to the north of the slipway, and they may be able to offer a drying berth for you but by arrangement only, for a flat fee of £10 per night. Link to website below:


This concludes the facilities in Fareham Lake/Channel.

Porchester Lake and Port Solent Marina.

Porchester Lake, or channel is located just to the north of the marinas on the eastern side. It is not to be confused with Fountain Lake which is part of the big ship harbour and houses the continental ferry port. Yachts are discouraged from entering here. Entry is between two beacons both lit, the green with triangular topmark is numbered 95 (QG), and it's red counterpart is number 57 (Fl(3)R5s). From here the channel trends north-easterly and is marked by piles.

After passing the big ship moorings, with the best water being to starboard the channel narrows and trends in a northerly direction. It then swings in a north-easterly direction in the area of Tipner Lake which lies to starboard. The water is now shallowing out, and care is needed. Do not confuse the red and green piles showing the entrance to Tipner Lake with the main Porchester Channel.
Some of these piles carry warnings about the firing range.

The channel now trends in a northerly direction and can be recognised by the moorings on either side. Once Portchester Castle draws abeam on your port side you will be entering the dredged channel leading to the Marina. If approaching at low water caution should be exercised, as some of the piles are just outside of the channel.

Port Solent Marina recommends that you call on VHF channel 80 or telephone 023 9221 0765 when you get to starboard hand pile number 78, to request use of the lock. This is just before Portchester Castle is abeam.

The lock operates 24 hours a day, sometimes with free flow at the top of the tide. If the lock is available for you continue along the channel and enter it providing it is showing a green light. There is a waiting pontoon with deep water available but you may need to raft up.

Services available here include water and electricity (included in the berthing fee) on the pontoons, and the fuel berth selling petrol as well as diesel. The shower and toilet facilities ashore are highly rated also. Berthing fees (2016) are £3.10 per metre per night for an 8 to 12.5 metre boat in the season with a minimum charge of £24.80; short stays £1.38per metre with a minimum charge of £10 but free if taking on fuel. Berthing charges run mid-day to mid-day.

Wifi is available in the Marina and the first four hours is included with the mooring fee.

For the boat there are lifting facilities up to 40 tonnes, together with local on-site Marine specialists (details in the directory).

Provisioning is easy with a large 24 hours Tesco's, as well as a good selection of other shops. Cash machines are available in Tesco's and elsewhere.

The place is pretty well self-contained, which is just as well because it's miles from anywhere. We provide a link to their website below:


This just about concludes our coverage of the berthing opportunities in the Portsmouth harbour area. There may well be other places, and if they make themselves known we will include them in here.

Little has been said about anchoring, but the intrepid shoal draft cruiser who can sit upright could probably find any number of quiet spots. A good reconnoitre of the proposed drying out spot should be conducted at low water first. There could be all manner of unexpected and unpleasant objects festering in the mud...

Keelboats looking to lay afloat at anchor need to make sure they are completely out of the channels and clear of the moorings which is not easy and probably best avoided. It is a requirement that you get permission from the QHM if anchoring in more than 10 m, although no doubt this is more relevant to ships.

In conclusion it could be said that Portsmouth Harbour offers a good variety of berthing options at very reasonable prices.


Just about every kind of facility imaginable for the boat can be found within the Portsmouth area. The general facilities available at each berthing place have been covered in the last section. This article deals with the more general town facilities available in each area where you can berth your boat.


If you a berthed in any of the three marinas on Western side close to the entrance Gosport would be the nearest town, and it's within walking distance.

All normal town facilities are available including newsagents, chemists, banks with cashpoints and post offices. Iceland is perhaps the nearest supermarket, and there is a Waitrose also. An open-air market in the high Street sets up on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Bottled gas is available at the chandlery in Haslar Marina, and also at Solent Marine Chandlery in Mumby Road, Gosport.

The Gunwharf Quays Area.

If berthed at Gunwharf/Camber or if arriving on one of the frequent passenger ferries from Gosport this is what you'll find in the immediate area:

Gunwharf Quays is a self-contained area a bit of a hike from Portsmouth City Centre. An abundance of fancy designer clothes shops dominate the place, but there is an express convenience store, a newsagents and a specialist food shop. Cash machines are on site.

For a more serious stock up you'll need to make your way to the centre where you will find Iceland and Sainsbury's, as well as all the normal High Street names.

Calor gas can be found at Beaver Tool Hire, in Kingston Road PO1, and Hatton's Gas, Tipnor Wharf, PO2.


If berthed near Fareham, you will find quite a good-sized town with a decent shopping centre. Yet again all the major High Street names are represented here together with the banks (c/w cashpoints). Sommerfield and Iceland supermarkets can be found.

Gas is obtainable from Wicormarine, as well as Percy See Ltd, Lower Quay rd, Fareham.

Trailer Sailers.

The following list of launching places is by no means complete and exhaustive but covers some of the popular spots.

Camber Dock, Portsmouth.
This is a concrete slipway usable at all states of the tide, with a £2.50 charge each way. Jetskis are not allowed, and the instructions already given about getting permission from the QHM to cross the harbour need to be noted.

Port Solent.
This is not in the Marina but just to the north. Access is available at about a quarter of the tidal range and it's free to use.

Fareham, Lower Quay.
This concrete ramp is free to use, having access at about a quarter of the tidal range. It is well used and maintained with parking nearby.

Porchester, Wicormarine.
Wicormarine have a concrete slipway with access at about a quarter of the tidal range. There are charges. Contact details have already been given.


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Bus services

Local bus services are provided by First Hampshire & Dorset and Stagecoach serving the city of Portsmouth and the surroundings of Havant, Leigh Park, Waterlooville, Fareham, Petersfield and long distance service 700 to Chichester, Worthing and Brighton. Bluestar and Hovertravel also run services in the city, and Countryliner run a Saturday service to Midhurst. National Express services from Portsmouth run mainly from The Hard Interchange to London, Cornwall, Bradford, Birkenhead and Eastbourne. Many bus services also stop at The Hard Interchange. Other bus services run from Commercial Road North, Commercial Road South and Isambard Brunel Road. A new bus station has been proposed next to Portsmouth & Southsea Station replacing Commercial Road South bus stops and new bus stops and taxi ranks on Andrew Bell Street to replace the Commercial Road North bus stops when the Northern Quarter Development is built.


There are three road links to the mainland, signposted as "Out of City" from the City Centre. These are the M275, A3 (London Road) and A2030 (Eastern Road). The M27 has a junction connecting to the M275 into Portsmouth. The A27 has a westbound exit onto the A3 (London Road) and a junction onto the A2030 (Eastern Road). The A3(M) is a short section of motorway which runs from Bedhampton north to Horndean.

The A3 links Portsmouth with London, though much traffic uses the M27 and M3 to avoid traffic jams at Hindhead. The M27, M3 and A34 provide the other major route to the Midlands and the North of England.


The city has several mainline railway stations, on two different direct South West Trains routes to London Waterloo, via Guildford and via Basingstoke. There is also a South West Trains stopping service to Southampton Central (providing connections to Crosscountry services to Birmingham and Manchester), and a service by First Great Western to Cardiff Central via Southampton, Bath and Bristol. Southern also offer services to Brighton and London Victoria.

Portsmouth's stations are (in order, out of the city): Portsmouth Harbour, Portsmouth and Southsea, Fratton, Hilsea and Cosham (the last being on the mainland).


Portsmouth Harbour has passenger ferry links to Gosport and the Isle of Wight. A car ferry service to the Isle of Wight operated by Wightlink is nearby. Britain's longest-standing commercial hovercraft service, begun in the 1960s, still runs (for foot passengers) from near Clarence Pier to Ryde, Isle of Wight, operated by Hovertravel.

Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port has links to Caen, Cherbourg-Octeville, St Malo and Le Havre in France, Bilbao in Spain and the Channel Islands. Ferry services from the port are operated by Brittany Ferries, P&O Ferries, Condor Ferries and LD Lines. On 18 May 2006 Acciona Trasmediterranea started a service to Bilbao in competition with P&O's existing service. This service got off to a bad start when the ferry Fortuny was detained in Portsmouth by the MCA for numerous safety breaches. The faults were quickly corrected by Acciona and the service took its first passengers from Portsmouth on the 25 May 2006. During 2007 AT Ferries withdrew the Bilbao service at short notice, citing the need to deploy the Fortuny elsewhere. The port is the second busiest ferry port in the UK after Dover handling around 3 million passengers a year and has direct access to the M275.


The nearest airport is Southampton which is approximately 20-30 minutes away by motorway, with a indirect South West Trains rail connection requiring a change at Southampton Central or Eastleigh.

Heathrow and Gatwick are both about 60-90 minutes away by motorway. Gatwick is directly linked by Southern services to London Victoria, whilst Heathrow is linked by coach to Woking, which is on both rail lines to London Waterloo, or by tube to either Victoria or Waterloo. Heathrow is directly linked to Portsmouth by National Express coaches.

The text on the TRANSPORT article above is covered by the following licence


More Info

These Rules and Regulations are taken verbatim from the QHM, and promulgated here in the interests of safety:

The Small Boat Channel is shown on Admiralty charts. Its northern and southern extremities are at Ballast Beacon and No 4 Bar Buoys respectively. A tide pole is fitted to Beacon BC4. Small Boats are reminded that they are extremely difficult to see and the harbour entrance is a blind bend to larger vessels. The following rules apply:
Small Boats must enter and leave the harbour through the Small Boat Channel.

All craft fitted with engines, when navigating in the Approach Channel to Portsmouth Harbour,are to proceed under power between No 4 Bar Buoy and the Ballast Beacon.

The Small Boat Channel may only be entered or exited by vessels approaching from the east at its northern or southern extremities.

A traffic pattern is established around Ballast Beacon; Small Boats entering the harbour are to pass close to the east of Ballast Beacon and those exiting close to the west.

Small Boats crossing the harbour entrance may only do so to the north of Ballast Beacon or to the south of No 4 Bar Buoy.

Small Boats, save those listed below, are not to loiter in the Small Boat Channel.

Small Boats should remain on the Starboard side of the Small Boat Channel and should adjust their speed to remain within the Small Boat Channel rather than overtake and be forced into the main channel.

The following vessels under 20m in length are authorised to use the Main Channel and loiter in the Small Boat Channel when their duties require; Pilot Boats, Police Launches, QHM Harbour Patrol Launches or QHM Volunteer Harbour Patrol Launches, QHM Volunteer Harbour Patrol Personal Watercraft, Customs Craft, Royal Naval vessels, MCA Lifeboat, RMAS craft flying official flags or discs and tugs engaged in towing operations or escorting a vessel under instruction from a pilot.

Small boats may continue to use the Small Boat Channel when the main channel is closed for the passage of a large vessel.

The following speed limits apply:
Within Portsmouth Harbour - 10 knots.

Within 1,000 yards of the shore in any part of the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth - 10 knots.

Within Wootton Creek to the West of the meridian of the mouth of the creek.(Longitude 01 12’.84 W) - 5 knots.
The speed limit in each case is to be taken as "speed through the water".

Mariners are also reminded of the importance in proceeding at a safe speed at all times as defined in Rule 6 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLLREGS). In particular in the approaches to and inside Portsmouth Harbour, when determining a safe speed, special consideration must be given to small boats. These small vessels could have combined lanterns which may be difficult to pick out against the background lighting, and they may not be detected by vessels with radar at adequate range.

The above speed limits do not apply within designated water-skiing areas (see LNTM 20/07) if exceeded for the purpose of towing a water skier. Personal Water Craft (PWC) may only exceed the speed limit within the areas designated for their use. Fast Military Craft (see LNTM 17/04) will also be exempt on specific occasions for operational training reasons. Any person requiring to exceed the above speed limits for specific reasons should apply to the Queen’s Harbour Master for a licence.
The following traffic management plan for craft under 20 metres in length (bound to/from Town Camber/Gunwharf Quays) is now in force:
Arrival. In the interest of safety all Small Boats bound for Gunwharf Quays/Town Camber are to enter harbour through the Small Boat Channel. Vessels are only to cross the Main Channel when they are to the north of Ballast Beacon, and permission has been obtained from QHM on VHF Channel 11. Vessels fitted with engines are to use them from entering the Small Boat Channel until arrival at Gunwharf Quays/Town Camber.

Departure. Small Boats departing from Gunwharf Quays and Town Camber are to obtain permission from QHM on VHF Channel 11 before proceeding. Small Boats leaving the Town Camber are to obtain approval before slipping and again when in the vicinity of The Point prior to crossing the Main Channel. All vessels are then to cross the Main Channel direct to Ballast Beacon and leave harbour through the Small Boat Channel. Vessels fitted with engines are to use them until exiting the Small Boat Channel. If any of these vessels are not fitted with VHF radio, fixed or portable, then they are to be escorted by a marshalling craft or accompany another vessel so fitted. When on station a QHM Harbour Patrol Launch or Volunteer Harbour Patrol Launch may undertake this task.

Commercial vessels under 20m in length and vessels belonging to other recognised groups based in the Town Camber, which are specifically registered for this purpose with QHM, may enter and leave the harbour close inshore on the eastern side. They are nonetheless still to request approval to proceed giving their intended route and license number (See para 11). If any of these vessels are not fitted with VHF radio, fixed or portable, then they are to be escorted by a marshalling craft or accompany another vessel so fitted. When on station a QHM Harbour Patrol Launch or Volunteer Harbour Patrol Launch may undertake this task.

Mariners are advised that there are no visitor berths or moorings at Gunwharf Quays, and that they will only be permitted to cross the harbour to Gunwharf quays if they have an assigned berth. The Gunwharf Berthing Manager is contactable on VHF Ch 80 or 02392 836732.

The Swashway is an important channel for shallow draught vessels approaching and leaving Portsmouth Harbour. Hovercraft and high-speed Catamaran ferries often transit the area en-route to and from Ryde at speeds in excess of 24 knots. Hovercraft, being non-displacement craft usually navigate outside the Swashway in areas where depths are shallow. The Spitbank area, as a whole, is often used for yacht racing and regattas. Mariners in yachts and slow-moving craft are advised to maintain a thorough all-round lookout for the possible approach of high-speed ferries and other fast craft. Particular care needs to be taken to check the appropriate quarter before making an alteration of course. Mariners in high-speed craft are cautioned not to assume that other mariners, particularly those whom they are overtaking, are aware of their presence, and are to give them a sufficiently wide berth.

The Inner Swashway is closed to vessels of 20m in length and over. Vessels over this size are to remain in the Approach Channel between the entrance to the Harbour and No 4 Bar Buoy. They should not enter the Small Boat Channel at any time except that they may do so when taking action to avoid collision under the COLREGS.

A Red Beacon is sited cable to the south of Fort Blockhouse. Small Boats transiting between the Inner Swashway and the Small Boat Channel are to leave this to port.

Extra caution is to be taken in the harbour mouth to ensure that Small Boats are not swept into mid channel from the Small Boat Channel by the strong cross-tide which is often present.

Mariners who wish to register in accordance with paragraph 7.c. above are to do so in writing to The Queen's Harbour Master, Semaphore Tower, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, PO1 3LT stating their name, vessel, berth and reason for registering. Those already on this register are not required to re-apply.

Check out all the rules and regulations here:




A significant naval port for centuries, Portsmouth is home to the world's oldest dry dock still in use and home to many famous ships, including Nelson's flagship HMS Victory. Portsmouth has declined as a naval base in recent years but remains a major dockyard and base for the Royal Navy. There is also a commercial port serving destinations on the continent for freight and passenger traffic.

The Spinnaker Tower is a recent addition to the city's skyline. It can be found in the recently redeveloped area known as Gunwharf Quays.

The Portsmouth Urban Area covers an area with a population well over twice that of the city of Portsmouth itself, and includes Fareham, Portchester, Gosport, Havant (which includes the large suburbs of Leigh Park), Lee-on-the-Solent, Stubbington and Waterlooville.

The suburbs of Portsmouth, and Southampton to the west, arguably form a conurbation stretching from Southampton to Havant on the M27/A27 road along the coast, and north to Clanfield on the A3 road.

There have been settlements in the area since before Roman times, mostly being offshoots of Portchester, which was a Roman base (Portus Adurni) and possible home of the Classis Britannica. Portsmouth is commonly regarded as having been founded in 1180 by John of Gisors (Jean de Gisors). Most early records of Portsmouth are thought to have been destroyed by Norman invaders following the Norman Conquest. The earliest detailed references to Portsmouth can be found in the Southwick Cartularies. However, there are records of "Portesmua" from the late 9th century, meaning "mouth of the Portus harbour".

In the Domesday Book there is no mention of Portsmouth. However, settlements that later went on to form part of Portsmouth are listed. At this time it is estimated the Portsmouth area had a population not greater than two or three hundred. While in Portsea there was a small church prior to 1166, Portsmouth's first real church came into being in 1181 when a chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket was built by Augustinian monks and run by the monks of Southwick Priory until the Reformation. The modern Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral is built on the original location of the chapel.

In 1194 King Richard The Lionheart returned from being held captive in Austria, and set about summoning a fleet and an army to Portsmouth, which Richard had taken over from John of Gisors. On May 2, 1194 the King gave Portsmouth its first Royal Charter granting permission for the borough to hold a fifteen day annual "Free Market Fair", weekly markets, to set up a local court to deal with minor matters, and exemption from paying the annual tax, with the money instead used for local matters. King Richard later went on to build a number of houses and a hall in Portsmouth. The hall is thought to have been at the current location of the Clarence Barracks (the area was previously known as Kingshall Green). It is believed that the crescent and eight-point star found on the thirteenth century common seal of the borough was derived from the arms of William de Longchamp, Lord Chancellor to Richard I at the time of the granting of the charter. The crescent and star, in gold on a blue shield, were subsequently recorded by the College of Arms as the coat of arms of the borough.

In 1200 King John reaffirmed the rights and privileges awarded by King Richard. King John's desire to invade Normandy resulted in the establishment of Portsmouth as a permanent naval base, and soon after construction began on the first docks, and the Hospital of St Nicholas, which performed its duties as an almshouse and hospice. During the thirteenth century Portsmouth was commonly used by King Henry III and Edward I as a base for attacks against France.

By the fourteenth century commercial interests had grown considerably, despite rivalry with the dockyard of nearby Southampton. Common imports included wool, grain, wheat, woad, wax and iron, however the port's largest trade was in wine from Bayonne and Bordeaux.

In 1338 a French fleet led by Nicholas Béhuchet raided Portsmouth, destroying much of the town, with only the local church and hospital surviving. Edward III gave the town exemption from national taxes to aid reconstruction.

Only ten years after this devastation the town for the first time was struck by the Black Death. In order to prevent the regrowth of Portsmouth as a threat, the French again sacked the city in 1369, 1377 and 1380. Henry V built the first permanent fortifications of Portsmouth. In 1418 he ordered a wooden Round Tower be built at the mouth of the harbour, which was completed in 1426.

King Henry VIII rebuilt the fortifications with stone, raised a square tower, and assisted Robert Brygandine and Sir Reginald Bray in the construction of the country's first dry dock. In 1527, with some of the money from the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII built Southsea Castle. In 1545, he saw his vice-flagship Mary Rose founder off Southsea Castle, with a loss of about 500 lives, while going into action against the French fleet. Over the years Portsmouth's fortification was increased by numerous monarchs, although most of these have now been converted into tourist attractions.

On 13 May 1787 11 ships sailed from Portsmouth, to establish the first European colony in Australia, it also marked the beginning of prisoner transports to that contient. It is known today as the First Fleet in Australia.
Portsmouth has a long history of supporting the Royal Navy logistically, leading to it being important in the development of the Industrial Revolution. Marc Isambard Brunel, the father of famed Portsmouth engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, established in 1802 the world's first mass production line at the Portsmouth Block Mills, to mass produce pulley blocks for rigging on the Royal Navy's ships. At its height the Dockyard was the largest industrial site in the world.

Admiral Nelson left Portsmouth for the final time in 1805 to command the fleet that would defeat the larger Franco-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar. The Royal Navy's reliance on Portsmouth led to the city becoming the most fortified in Europe, with a network of forts (a subset of "Palmerston's Follies") circling the city. From 1808 the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron, who were tasked to stop the slave trade, operated out of Portsmouth. On December 21, 1872 a major scientific expedition, the Challenger Expedition, was launched from Portsmouth.
In 1916 the town experienced its first aerial bombardment when a Zeppelin airship bombed it during World War I.

In 1926 Portsmouth was granted city status, following a long campaign by the borough council. The application was made on the grounds that Portsmouth was the "first naval port of the kingdom". Two years later the city received the further honour of a lord mayoralty. In 1929 the city council added the motto "Heaven's Light Our Guide" to the medieval coat of arms. Apart from referring to the celestial objects in the arms, the motto was that of the Star of India. This recalled that troopships bound for the colony left from the port. Further changes were made to the arms in 1970, when the Portsmouth Museums Trust sponsored the grant of crest, supporters and heraldic badge. The crest and supporters are based on those of the royal arms, but altered to show the city's maritime connections: the lions and unicorn have been given fish tails, and a naval crown placed around the latter animal. Around the unicorn is wrapped a representation of "The Mighty Chain of Iron", a Tudor defensive boom across Portsmouth Harbour.

The city was bombed extensively during World War II, destroying many houses and the Guildhall. While most of the city has since been rebuilt, developers still occasionally find unexploded bombs. Southsea beach and Portsmouth Harbour were military embarkation points for the D-Day landings on June 6 1944. Southwick House, just to the north of Portsmouth, had been chosen as the headquarters for the Supreme Allied Commander, US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, during D-Day.

After the war, much of the city's housing stock was damaged and more was cleared in an attempt to improve the quality of housing. Those people affected by this were moved out from the centre of the city to new developments such as Paulsgrove and Leigh Park. Post-war redevelopment throughout the country was characterised by utilitarian and brutalist architecture, with Portsmouth's Tricorn Centre one of the most famous examples. More recently, a new wave of redevelopment has seen Tricorn's demolition, the renewal of derelict industrial sites, and construction of the Spinnaker Tower.

A tenth of the city's workforce works at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, which is directly linked to the city's biggest industry, defence, with major sites for BAE and VT Group located in the city. VT have been awarded some of the construction work on the two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers, although this involved the merger with BAe ship group. This will create 3000 new jobs in the city. There is also a major ferry port which deals with both passengers and cargo. The city is also host to the European headquarters of IBM, and the UK headquarters of Zurich Financial Services.

In the last decade the number of shops in Portsmouth has grown dramatically due to both the buoyancy of the local economy and improved transport links. In the city centre, shopping is centred around Commercial Road and the 1980s Cascades Shopping Centre, with over 100 high street shops between them. Recent redevelopment have created new shopping areas, including the upmarket Gunwharf Quays, containing fashion stores, restaurants, and a cinema; and the Historic Dockyard, which aims at the tourist sector and holds regular French markets, and an annual Christmas market. Large shopping areas include Ocean Retail Park, on the north-eastern side of Portsea Island, composed of shops requiring large floor space for selling consumer goods; and the Bridge Centre an 11,043 square metre shopping centre built in 1988, now dominated by the Asda Walmart store. There are also many smaller shopping areas throughout the city.

There is a small fishing fleet based in the city.

Tourism is also a growing sector of the economy.

The housing boom has also spurned economic growth with prices rising at a speed second only to London.


The city has two Theatres - both designed by the Victorian/Edwardian architect and entrepreneur Frank Matcham. The New Theatre Royal in Guildhall Walk near to the City Centre, specialises in classical, modern and avant-garde drama and the newly-restored Kings Theatre in Southsea's Albert Road has many amateur musicals as well an increasing number of national tours. Other venues include the Third Floor Arts Venue in the Central Library and the South Parade Pier, as well as the Portsmouth Guildhall itself, which hosts numerous musical events and an extensive annual programme of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and is on the national touring circuit of well known singers and groups.

The city has three established music venues: The Wedgewood Rooms, The Pyramids and The Guildhall. Since the late 1970s only three acts from the city have made the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart: the critically acclaimed indie/rock bands The Cranes and Ricky; plus the novelty pop act, Same Difference.

For many years a series of symphony concerts has been presented at the Guildhall by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In 1979, 1982, 1985, 1988 and 1991 the city was host to a major international string quartet competition, whose winners included the Takacs (Hungary), Endellion (UK), Hagen (Austria) and Ysae (France) quartets. (The competition subsequently moved to London.) The Portsmouth Sinfonia (1970-1979) approached classical music from a different angle.

The city is home to FA Premier League football team, Portsmouth F.C., who play their home games at Fratton Park. 'Pompey', as the club is colloquially known, is the most successful football club south of Birmingham (with the exception of the clubs in London), having twice been crowned Champions of England, and are the current FA Cup holders. The City's second team, United Services Portsmouth F.C. play in the Wessex League Division One. Portsmouth Rugby Football Club play their home games in the London Division 1 at Rugby Camp, Hilsea. Like many towns on the English south coast, watersports are popular here, particularly sailing and yachting. Locks Sailing Club at Longshore way is the city's premier dinghy sailing club. The city's rowing club is located in Southsea at the Seafront near the Hovercraft Terminal.

In literature, Portsmouth is the chief location for Jonathan Meades' novel Pompey (1993) ISBN 0-09-930821-5, in which it is inhabited largely by vile, corrupt, flawed freaks. He has subsequently admitted that he had never actually visited the city at that time. Since then he has presented a TV programme about the Victorian architecture in Portsmouth Dockyard.

In Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park, Portsmouth is the hometown of the main character Fanny Price, and is the setting of most of the closing chapters of the book.

In Dicken's Nicholas Nickleby, the hero and Smike make their way to Portsmouth and get involved in a theatrical troupe.

Portsmouth Point is an overture for orchestra by the English composer William Walton. The work was inspired by Rowlandson's print depicting Portsmouth Point. It was used as an opening for a Proms Concert in the 2007 season.

H.M.S. Pinafore, is a comic opera in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, which is set in Portsmouth Harbour. Using the operetta music of Sullivan (arranged by Charles Mackerras) and The Bumboat Woman's Story by W S Gilbert, John Cranko's 1951 ballet Pineapple Poll is set at the quayside in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth also runs its own series of concerts encompassing a range of music at the Bandstand in Southsea Common.

The city is also known for its vibrant south Asian community and is where Bollywood starlet Geeta Basra hails from. She was born and raised in the city where her family still live.

The City hosts yearly remembrances of the D-Day landings to which veterans from the Allied nations travel to attend.

East facing aerial view of Portsmouth (with Gosport in the foreground)
View over Portsmouth from Portsdown Hill.Most of the city of Portsmouth lies on Portsea Island, located where the Solent joins the English Channel. This makes Portsmouth the United Kingdom's only island city and the thirteenth most densely populated place in Europe. It is the second most densely populated place in the UK, after Inner London.

The island is separated from the mainland to the north by a narrow creek, bridged in places to make it - in appearance - a peninsula. The sheltered Portsmouth Harbour lies to the west of the island and the large tidal bay of Langstone Harbour is to the east. Portsdown Hill dominates the skyline to the north, providing a magnificent panoramic view over the city, and to the south are the waters of the Solent with the Isle of Wight beyond.

Being a seaside city, it is low-lying == the majority of its surface area is only about 10 feet above sea level, the highest natural point on Portsea Island being Kingston Cross (21 feet) although the road surface over Fratton raliway bridge reaches 25. There are, therefore, dangers that rising sea levels as a result of global warming could cause serious damage to the city.
The west of the city is mainly council estates such as Buckland, Landport and Portsea. These were built after most of the original Victorian terraces were destroyed by bombings in World War II. After the war the massive estate of Leigh Park (one of the largest housing development of its kind in Europe) was built to solve the chronic housing shortage during the post-war reconstruction. As of the early part of this decade this estate is now entirely under the jurisdiction of Havant Borough Council, However Portsmouth City Council is still the Landlord for these properties, thus making it the biggest landowner in Havant Borough.

Old Portsmouth which is the oldest part of the city, was also known as Spice Island and was famous for its pubs, that serviced the many sailors calling into the port. Districts of Portsmouth; Widley, Paulsgrove, Wymering, Cosham, Drayton, Farlington, Port Solent, North Harbour, Highbury, Hilsea, Anchorage Park, North End, Tipner, Stamshaw, Copnor, Landport, Buckland, Baffins, Fratton, City Centre, Portsea, Old Portsmouth, Southsea, Milton and Eastney.

Tourist attractions
Most of Portsmouth's tourist attractions are related to its naval history. In the last decade Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard has been given a much needed face-lift. Among the attractions are the D-Day museum (which holds the Overlord embroidery) and, in the dockyard, HMS Victory, the remains of Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose (raised from the seabed in 1982), HMS WarriorTemplate:WP Ships HMS instances (Britain's first iron-clad steamship) and the Royal Naval Museum.

Many of the city's former defences now host museums or events. Several of the Victorian era forts on Portsdown Hill are now tourist attractions. Fort Nelson is now home to the Royal Armouries museum, Forts Purbrook and Widley are activities centres. the Tudor era Southsea Castle has a small museum, and much of the seafront defences up to the Round Tower are open to the public. The southern part of the once large Royal Marines Eastney Barracks is now the Royal Marine Museum. There are also many buildings in the city that occasionally host open days particularly those on the D-Day walk which are seen on signs around the city which note sites of particularly importance in the city to Operation Overlord.

The city also hosts the D-Day museum a short distance from Southsea Castle; this museum is home to the famous Overlord Tapestry.

Portsmouth's long association with the armed forces means it has a large number of war memorials around the city, including several at the Royal Marines Museum, at the dockyards and in Victoria Park. In the city centre, the Guildhall Square Cenotaph displays the names of the fallen, and is guarded by stone sculptures of machine gunners carved by the sculptor Charles Sargeant Jagger. The memorial is inscribed:

-West face

The millennium project to build the Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quays was completed in 2005. The tower is 552 ft tall and features viewing decks at sea level, 325 ft, 341 ft and 357 ft.

Other tourist attractions include the birthplace of Charles Dickens, the Blue Reef Aquarium (formerly the Sea Life Centre), Cumberland House (a natural history museum), The Royal Marines Museum and Southsea Castle. Southsea's seafront is also home to Clarence Pier Amusement Park.

Portsmouth is also home to the Genesis Expo, the UK's first (and to date only) creationist museum.

English Heritage and the Ministry of Defence are in the process of turning the Portsmouth Block Mills into a museum.

The text on this HISTORY page is covered by the following licence

Link to history of Gosport:


Link to history of Fareham:


Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

With the berthing arrangements around Portsmouth Harbour being spread out in different areas, it makes sense to cover the three main areas separately.


If you check out our history page, and link to the article that deals with Gosport you will find a warning written by an unnamed writer in 1777. The following is an extract... "Except for the vicinity of the sea, Gosport can claim little that is attractive, for the town is not pleasant and the surrounding country has no peculiar charms........ and with a full share of the vice of Portsmouth, polluted by the fortunes of sailors and the extravagances of harlots."

Has much changed in the last coupe of centuries ?  It is the duty of any intrepid Mariner berthed in one of the three marinas nearby to carry out a thorough investigation and report back to this site. Fellow "Brothers of the Sea" may be keen to know if a night on the town in Gosport will result in a return to the boat with an extravagant harlot in tow !! (or a black eye and a fat lip).

Jesting aside, it has to be said that Gosport could never be described as glitzy. The town does however have more than 70,000 inhabitants, and the infrastructure to serve their needs, so it should be easy enough to find convivial surroundings for eating and drinking. Over the years each of the three Marinas on this side, aware of the hike involved in reaching the delights of Gosport, have opened good restaurants on site and details can be found on their repective websites. 

The usual fast food outlets will be found, together with a selection of restaurants including two Chinese, and two Indians. The area is not short of pubs either. The links below may give you some ideas:

Gosport Pubs.

Gosport Eating Places.


Finally what sailor could visit Gosport without being intrigued to find out what it's like inside a submarine, when the opportunity is so close. The Royal Navy Submarine Museum (023 9252 9217) offers a guided walk through tour of HMS Alliance. It is open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM in the summer.


Whether you arrive by ferry from Gosport, or with your boat berthed this side any sailing person will probably find it interesting to explore the Naval history of Portsmouth. We provided the link below that lists the opportunities:


Once all the historical stuff is out of the way, the hungry and thirsty mariner will have plenty of choices. Ranging from the pubs and bars in old Portsmouth around the Camber Dock area, through the glitzy attractions of Gunwharf Quay to the City Centre itself.

Gunwharf Quays has a 14 screen cinema, a casino, a bowling alley and a comedy club. This is quite apart from the range of restaurants which range from American-style diners (complete with American-style portions) to a Chinese.

Those of you who, half a century ago, slung their 'ammocks in a ship o' the line will find much has changed; most of the pubs along the foreshore outside the dockyard gate are no more (although the Keppels Head is still there) as are the tattoo shops which abounded to trap the unwary sailor wending his happy way back onboard. 'Tes all modern now m'dear. 

As usual it is not our habit to delve too deeply, and we give a couple of links for you to check out:

Pubs in Portsmouth.


Eating Out in Portsmouth:



The town of Fareham offers a decent choice of restaurants and pubs including an Indian and Chinese, as well as more upmarket eateries serving French and International cusine. Italian food is also catered for with two restaurants. Links are provided below for further investigation:

Pubs Fareham.


Eating Out Fareham.


Port Solent.

Port Solent is a completely self-contained area well away from everything else. Suffice to say that if your boat is moored here a quick recce around the Broadwalk will reveal what is on offer. This ranges from cafes, bar restaurants, and all kinds of eateries with foods ranging from Cajun, Mexican, Indian, and Chinese.. not forgetting Italian.

The yacht club here is open to visiting sailors too.

There is little point in providing links as everything is right there on the spot and what you see is what you get.



Your Ratings & Comments

Portsmouth Harbour - Small Boat Channel moved to the west
Written by Mark Turner | 25th Apr 2017
The latest Portsmouth Harbour LNTM shows that inbound and outbound traffic should leave no 4 Bar buoy close to port, following the extensive dredging and re-alignment of the main shipping and small boat channels. Previously, the small boat channel ran to the west of No 4 Bar buoy and inbound traffic left No4 Bar to starboard..

1 of 1 people found this helpful
Update Spring 2016
Written by dononshytalk | 21st Mar 2016
These notes were reviewed by Don in March 2016. Everyone has increased their prices and where we have been able they have been updated for the 2016 season.
Update April 2014
Written by dononshytalk | 2nd Apr 2014
These notes were reviewed April 2014. As far as we can tell there are no changes in the facilities; some of the marinas have increased prices, others remain the same; all have been updated to 2014. The only thing to note is that, in a perusal of Local Navigation Warnings, we noticed a couple referring to the Oil Fuel Jetty and especially the hazard caused by mooring lines to dolphins outside the entrance to the Gosport Marina. We have attempted to describe this mooring but if you are in any doubt and do intend to use the Gosport Marina, give the QHM a call for clarification.
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 17th Jan 2013
The harbour notes for Portsmouth were updated by Don T on 17th January 2013.

All three Gosport Marinas have continued to improve their facilities, all now have on-site eateries.

Gunwarf Quay has improved its attitude to visiting yachties and we have reflected that in our notes but would welcome members' experiences this coming summer (2013)

All prices have been updated for the 2013 summer season with the exception of Gunwarf Quay who will be reviewing theirs.

There have been no significant changes to the QHM rules and regulations quoted in the "More Info" Section and the text has been altered to indicate the correct place in our notes to find them.(Sorry Joe)
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Small boats entering and leaving Portsmouth
Written by Orion1231 | 2nd Dec 2011
The main channel from both the east and the west is round the Spit Sand fort and up the buoyed channel.

There are two swatchways across the sands at the southern side of the main channel. There is a channel that runs along the shore between Fort Gilkicker and the Portsmouth harbour entrance at Fort Blockhouse. This is shallow at low water, particulalry springs, but has over 3m at HW. There is a red pillar just outside ther harbour entrance that must be passed to port, both entering and leaving. This ensures that entering boats do not conflict with leaving boats, although care has to be taken when entering as boats often follow the main channel, both in and out.

Th second swatchway is used by the ferries, both the car ferries and the fast cat (white catamarans). Use this with care at low water, especially low water springs. The deepest water is moving westwards of the line shown on the charts. Keep the church tower open from the tall building.

When moving up and down the harbour past Hasler Marina, pass the red Ballast Post to port as shown on the arrows on the signs on th post.
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QHM Regulations
Written by Bryant | 10th May 2011
Sorry, meant to say "More Info" section. Expand this (+) to see the full text, or switch to the fully expanded page view for those who don't have javascript turned on. Steve
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Clarity please on instructions
Written by Joe Baker | 10th May 2011
You may think it a trivial point, but changing the description applied to sections can be confusing. Under the section headed 'Approach' you say 'rules and regulations .... are published in the "Other Information" section of our coverage.'

Do you really mean the section headed 'More info.', or do you mean the section headed 'Further berthing information.' or do you mean the link headed 'Read More' or is there a section somewhere that I have been unable to find that is actually headed 'Other Information'?

Many thanks, Joe
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