Location, approach and entrance
The harbour captures the rivers Avon and Stour. The lower harbour is bordered to the north and south by local nature reserves, sites of special scientific interest and a scheduled ancient monument.
The channel is marked by red and green buoys during the spring/summer season, which is usually from Early May bank holiday until the end of September.
The accuracy of buoys cannot be assured and mariners who are not local are advised to seek local knowledge where possible and consult the most up to date almanac for more information.
The speed limit within the channel is 8 knots. However, there is a sandbank to the south and north that can make the channel shallower. We recommend that once you enter the channel you slow to a maximum of 6 knots.
Boats with a draught over 3ft 6in (1.09m) may have trouble both entering and leaving the channel, which is why local knowledge is useful.
At the downstream end of Mudeford Quay, there are two vertical green lights which mark the shoreward end of the channel where it joins the entrance known as The Run.
The Run is deeper water but can become congested at peak times during the summer. On an ebb tide, the flow of water can also run at up to 8 knots, slightly less on the flood.
Inside the harbour
Once inside the harbour the main channel is marked by buoys, positioned by the Harbour Association.
In general, the harbour is very shallow, with vast areas of it drying out at low tide. The average depth within the harbour, outside the marked channels, is around 18 inches (46cm).
At low tide large areas do dry out. If anchoring, this should be taken into consideration.
On a spring low, the main channel becomes extremely difficult to navigate for anything other than boats with a very shallow draft.