Port of Boston



IN FORCE 1/1/2013


No.1: 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rules contained within the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (1972) unless specifically superseded by a Special Direction* issued by the Harbour Master, his Assistant or Deputy.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: 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 carry out regular surveys of the commercially used riverside berths, which include visual and hydrographic surveys. Vessel owners and charterers should ensure that any vessel fixed for these berths are suitable for drying out. 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. On occasions, vessels do stick 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.3: 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.

No.4: Tidal Range and Speed of Water

On Spring Tides, tidal range in the river can be expected to exceed 7 metres, with tidal speeds in excess of 4 knots. 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 and to a lesser extent 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.5: Changes in Depths 

Mariners are warned that rapid changes can occur in the depths of 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.6:Port Control 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, call sign ‘Boston Port Control’ can provide commercial traffic forecast from 2.5 hours before HW. Port Control Office contact numbers are 01205 362328 or 07966 244341.


No.7: Alcohol, Drugs & Fatigue 

It is an offence for persons in charge of navigation or having safety responsibilities on board 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 for drink drive levels. 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.8: Disposal of Garbage

Mariners are advised that the requirements of Regulation 5 (Disposal of Garbage within Special Areas) of Annex 5 of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 as amended by the Protocol thereto of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78) came into effect for the North Sea and English Channel area on 18th February 1991. MSN 1807 defines the boundaries of the Special Area for purpose of Annex V of MARPOL 73/78 and The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Pollution by Sewage and Garbage from Ships) Regulations 2008.

No waste should be disposed of at sea within the Port of Boston Jurisdiction Area.

Reception facilities for commercial vessels garbage are provided by the Port on receipt of relevant charge. Port of Boston Waste Management Plan may be viewed at the Harbour Office with prior arrangement with the Harbour Master. No waste from ships should be left on the quayside.


No.9: Safe Navigational Watch / Stability

Attention is drawn to Marine Guidance Note MGN 84 concerning 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.10: Speed Limit

Attention of Mariners is drawn to the 6-knot speed limit within the Haven, which is imposed by Environment Agency. The Harbour Authority may monitor the speed of vessels having regard to safe speed and to the EA limit. If the Harbour Authority considers that excessive speed is causing a hazard to navigation or a danger to, or embarrassing other vessels, the Harbour Authority will take necessary action.

No.11: 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 predominantly when the larger commercial vessels commence 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 consultation between the 2 vessels.


No.12: 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 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 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.13: 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. It is an offence, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse to:

intentionally or recklessly damage –

i) any lighthouse or the lights exhibited in it, or

ii) any lightship, buoy or beacon

a)      To removes, casts adrift or sinks any lightship, buoy or beacon; or

b)      To conceals or obscures any lighthouse, buoy or beacon;

c)   To make fast to, or

d)     To run foul of,

any lightship buoy or beacon.

1)      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.

Any vandalism to river beacon lights is an offence and will be dealt with in accordance with MSA 1995, Section 219(3).


No.14: Hazards, Trawling

Attention is drawn to Marine Guidance Note MGN 265 – Fishing Vessels: The Hazards Associated with Trawling, Including Beam Trawling and Scallop Dredging.

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.

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


No.15: Works in River


Prior to commencement within thePortofBoston Jurisdiction Areaof any operation mentioned above, permission must be sought, and clearance granted from the Harbour Master. 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 16: Electricity Cables in the Wash

Power cables run from the Lincs Wind farm through the centre of The Wash and make shore connection at the entrance of the River Nene. At present (Jan 2013), in certain discreet areas, the burial depths of these cables have not reached the depths agreed by the Harbour Authority.

Mariners should be cautious and prudent when navigating or working in the vicinity of the cables route, which are shown on the British Admiralty Charts.


No.17: 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.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency hold local twice yearly, Lincolnshire Coast and Rivers Safety Sub Committee Meetings; representatives of any boating association would be welcome to become members or attend; details available from the Harbour Master.

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.

British Waterways 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 Port of Boston Ltd will issue Local Notice to Mariners as and when required.


Capt. Richard Walker

Harbour Master


The Dock,


Lincs,PE21 6BN


Tel              01205 365571

Mob           07712 133430

Fax            01205 310126

Email         harbourmaster@portofboston.co.uk