2017 Information from the Port of Boston

Dated  31.12.16


EST 1884 


IN FORCE 1/1/2017

No1: Collision Regulations

All Mariners are reminded that they should at all times comply with the rules contained within the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (1972) unless specifically superseded by a Special Direction* issued by the Harbour Master, his Assistant or Deputy. Owners and operators of any vessel that is covered by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (1972) are reminded that contravention of these Regulations is a serious matter. Recent occurrences suggest that in some cases the person in charge of navigation is unaware of these Regulations particularly those relating to vessels constrained in narrow channels. It is pointed out that ignorance of the law is no defence and prosecution under both the Boston Harbour Act and the Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (1972) will follow contravention.

*Under Section 52 of the Harbours Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847, The Harbour Master, Assistants or his Deputy may give Special Directions to any vessel. These may be made verbally or in writing depending upon the circumstances of the case.

 No 2: Contact Details

Mariners navigating the River Witham seawards of Grand Sluice and extending to the outer limits of the Port Of Boston Jurisdiction Area are to monitor VHF Channel 12. The Port Control Office at Boston, callsign ‘Boston Port Control’ can provide commercial traffic forecasts. Port Control Office contact numbers are 01205 362328 or 07966 244341, email portcontrol@portofboston.co.uk The office is not manned 24 hours a day but only at tide times when commercial shipping movements are planned to occur. Details outside these hours may be obtained from the 24 hour Port of Boston telephone number, 01205 365571.

 No 3 Pre Arrival Documents

Vessels should, wherever possible, provide 24 hours notice of arrival to their ships agents with a copy sent to portcontrol@portofboston.co.uk . Information to include pre arrival document, waste form and crew list. Details of UNLOCODE and Port Facility number should be entered. From April 2017, to comply with European Regulations, Pre arrival and Waste information should be provided in excel format. Any ship defects should be advised to Port Control either directly or via the ships agents.

 No 4: Anchoring

The Port of Boston designated anchorage area is situated in the seaward approaches to the Freeman Channel. It is clearly marked on Navigation Charts. The eastern extremity of the anchorage area is marked by B1 (AIS Fitted) and B2 Navigation Aids both of which are approximately 500m from the closest sub sea cable.

 No 5: Pilotage

Pilotage is compulsory for vessels over 30m LOA or tug and tows with a combined length of over 30m. Pilot should be ordered through ships agents, giving 24 hours’ notice wherever possible. Pilot boarding areas are Boston Roads or Number 9 Buoy. The Harbour Master reserves the right to require any vessel, within the compulsory pilotage area, to carry a pilot if the circumstances require.

No 6: NAABSA Berths

All the riverside commercial berths are Not Always Afloat But Safely Aground (NAABSA) Berths. This means that vessels will take the ground and sit on a soft mud bottom. The Port of Boston carries out regular surveys of the commercially used riverside berths, which include visual and hydrographic surveys. Dredging is carried out on NAABSA berths as and when considered necessary by the Harbour Authority. Vessel owners and charterers should ensure that any vessel fixed for these berths are suitable for drying out and taking the bottom. Vessel Masters should be aware of the need of extra moorings and the requirement to tend their moorings throughout the tidal cycle especially as the vessel takes the bottom. Although the Harbour Authority will not tell Masters of vessels how to moor their vessel, we would recommend using 4 and 2 each end. On occasions, vessels do stick in the mud and will “pop” up as the tide rises, it is important that water tight doors and openings are kept closed and secured at all times.

No 7: Non Port of Boston Berths

The berths upriver of the Swing Bridge and all non-commercial riverside berths downriver of the swing bridge are not checked by the Harbour Authority for suitability for small craft. Owners / skippers of such craft, including pleasure boats and fishing boats should ensure that any berth they intend to occupy is suitable for purpose. It should be noted that the Port of Boston do not own, operate or have any responsibility for any berths mentioned above or the safe berthing and mooring of vessels which choose to use these berths.

 No.8: Tidal Range and Speed of Water

On Spring Tides, tidal range in the river exceeds 7 metres. Mariners should exercise prudent seamanship when planning a passage and mooring or navigating in the confines of the tidal waters. At times, fresh water is released without notice, from the Grand Sluice, South Forty Foot, Maud Foster and Hob Hole drains and other pumping stations along the length of the river. Such releases can produce water speeds in excess of 6 knots and mariners should take caution.

No.9: Changes in Depths

Mariners are warned that rapid changes in depths can occur in the approach channels with buoys being moved accordingly at short notice. Latest information on buoy positions and status of lights can be obtained from the Harbour Office.

No.10: Alcohol, Drugs & Fatigue

It is a criminal offence for persons in charge of navigation or having safety responsibilities onboard to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs or to be in contravention of the working hours directives leading to fatigue. The alcohol limit is set at the same level as UK drink drive limit of 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath. The Harbour Authority will inform the Police if they believe an infringement of this law has taken place. The Police will carry out breath and / or urine tests and if proved positive the vessel will be detained and appropriate action will be taken by the authorities. (Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 applies)

No.11: Disposal of Garbage

Mariners are reminded of the requirements  of the Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships)Regulations 2008. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/440749/MGN_385.pdf

NO WASTE to be disposed of in the river or in the Port of Boston Jurisdiction Area. Reception facilities for commercial vessels garbage are provided by the Port of Boston on receipt of relevant fee. Port of Boston Waste Management Plan may be viewed at the Harbour Office with prior arrangement with the Harbour Master. No waste should be left on the quay at any time, otherwise a charge may be made to cover removal costs.

No.12: Buoys, Beacons and Lights

Navigation aids, particularly buoys, have been damaged by vessels, using them as moorings, by casual carelessness, and by collision with either the vessel or its gear such as beams trawls.

The attention of mariners is drawn to the Merchant Shipping Act, 1995, Section 219. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1995/21/contents It is an offence, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse to:

      intentionally or recklessly damage –

  1. i) any lighthouse or the lights exhibited in it, or
  2. ii) any lightship, buoy or beacon
  3. To remove, cast adrift or sink any lightship, buoy or beacon; or
  4. To conceal or obscure any lighthouse, buoy or beacon;
  5. c) To make fast to, or
  6. To run foul of,

any lightship, buoy or beacon.

  • A person who is guilty of an offence under this section shall, in addition to being liable for the expense of making good any damage so occasioned, be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard table.

No.13: Works in River


Prior to commencement within the Port of Boston Jurisdiction Area of any operation mentioned above, permission must be sought, and clearance granted from the Harbour Master. The form Application for Marine Work, available from the Harbour Office should be completed. Adequate Risk Assessments and Method Statements will be required. The Port may make a reasonable charge to cover the cost of administration of these activities.

No.14: Speed Limit

Attention of Mariners is drawn to the speed limit within the Haven. The Harbour Authority may monitor the speed of vessels having regard to safe speed. If the Harbour Authority considers that excessive speed is causing a hazard to navigation or a danger to, or embarrassing other vessels, or causing excessive wash the Harbour Authority will take necessary action.

No15: Safe Navigational Watch / Stability

Attention is drawn to Marine Guidance Note MGN 313(F) concerning Keeping a Safe Navigational Watch on Fishing Vessels. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mgn-313-keeping-a-safe-navigational-watch-on-fishing-vessels

 The skipper of all vessels should ensure adequate freeboard and stability of the vessel at all times. It is recommended that all skippers of fishing boats undergo the non statutory MCA stability course.

No.16: Interaction

Several cases of interaction have recently been experienced in the river. This has occurred on occasions when fishing boats have attempted to pass commercial vessels usually when the larger commercial vessel commences slowing down on their approach to the dock. There is a serious risk of interaction, sucking the smaller vessel into the larger vessel, turning the smaller vessel broadsides to the river and therefore causing risk of collision and capsizing. In all cases it is highly recommended that overtaking in the river is only acceptable after clear consultation and agreement between the 2 vessels.

No.17: Small Craft in Tidal Waters

Water seawards of New Cut are designated by the MCA as “at Sea”. Waters between Grand Sluice and inside the New Cut are category C waters, and waters contained within the dock basin are category B waters.

All vessels entering into Categorised Waters and “Sea” are legally obliged to follow the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collision at Sea.

Owners, Operators, Yacht Clubs, Marina Operators and persons in charge of pleasure and other small craft are warned that tidal waters seaward of Grand Sluice Lock can be dangerous.

Persons in charge of inland waterway vessels, or other vessels not normally used in tidal rivers, should be aware of the dangers of entering tidal waters. Any person in charge of these vessels should confirm they have adequate insurance, prior to entering tidal waters. Occurrences and near misses have occurred in Port of Boston Jurisdiction Waters due to the inability of one vessel to make contact with another. It is a local requirement of the Port of Boston, that all vessels navigating within the Ports waters have adequate means of communications which will normally mean carrying a Marine Band VHF Radio capable of receiving and transmitting on VHF channel 12.

Mariners should ensure that their insurance policy covers them for navigation in Categorised Waters otherwise their policies could be null and void.

No.18: Hazards, Trawling

Attention is drawn to Marine Guidance Note MGN 415(F) – Fishing Vessels: The Hazards Associated with Trawling, Including Beam Trawling and Scallop Dredging. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/440969/MGN_415.pdf

Skippers of fishing vessels engaged in trawling should make themselves aware of any known submerged hazards, including the likelihood of the presence of Crab / Lobster Pots and submarine cables

Notice is drawn to the notation on charts BA 108 and 1200 regarding the presence of unmarked pots.

No 19: Electricity Cables in the Wash

Power cables run from the Lincs Windfarm through the centre of The Wash and make shore connection at the entrance of the River Nene. In certain discreet areas, the burial depths of these cables have not reached the expected depths. Mariners should be cautious and prudent when navigating, anchoring or working in the vicinity of the cables route, which are shown on the British Admiralty Charts.

Works will continue during 2017 to lay the Race Bank Windfarm export power cables through The Wash. Details of these activities will be provided by Local Notice to Mariners

No 20: Hazards in the river

Any item that is considered by the Harbour Authority to be a hazard to navigation may be removed and disposed of, or made safe to the best of the Harbour Authority’s ability. Costs incurred will be chargeable to the owner of the hazard. When possible, the Harbour Authority will give notice to the owner of removal.

No.21: General

The Port of Boston complies with the Port Marine Safety Code. As part of the plan, there is a requirement for a documented 3 year plan that is relevant to the Ports Operations. The 3 year plan is contained within the Port Marine Safety Code and can be viewed on request with prior arrangement with the Harbour Master.

If any user of the river and waters covered by the jurisdiction of the Harbour Authority wishes to raise any matter relating to safety of navigation, they should write or otherwise contact The Harbour Master or his deputy at the address below.

Vessel owners (including owners of fishing vessels), Agents, Charterers, Yacht Clubs, Marina Operators and Lock Keepers should ensure that the contents of these Notices are made known to the masters and skippers or persons in charge of vessels using the waters within the Port of Boston jurisdiction area.

The Canals and River Trust and the Environment Agency should ensure the notices are made available to the masters, skippers or persons in charge of craft transiting from the fresh water to the salt water at Grand Sluice and  / or Black Sluice.

The Harbour Authority will issue Local Notice to Mariners and Special Directions as and when required.

Capt. Richard Walker

Harbour Master


The Dock,


Lincs, PE21 6BN

Tel              01205 365571

Mob           07712 133430

Email         harbourmaster@portofboston.co.uk

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