Bembridge Harbour lies on the eastern tip of the Isle of Wight, just a short sail from many Solent harbours with Chichester, Langstone, and Portsmouth all within a 10 mile radius. For yachtsmen embarking on a Channel crossing, Bembridge Harbour has the added attraction that it is at least an hour closer to the continent than the mainland marinas at the same end of the Solent.
The Harbour is designated a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ in recognition of its significance as a habitat for wildlife. The Harbour’s European importance is confirmed by its status as a ‘Special Protection Area’ and it is designated a ‘wetland of international importance’ under the Ramsar Convention. There is an area of saltmarsh as well as other
important habitats such as sand dunes, vegetated shingle, and saline lagoons, the saltmarsh and inter-tidal mud providing feeding grounds for wintering and migratory waterfowl, and the Island’s only RSPB site edges onto the Harbour. Bembridge is a large, picturesque and sheltered harbour with beautiful beaches and although the entrance is tidally restricted, once inside its shelter a warm welcome awaits visiting yachts whatever the weather. Its sides are flanked by the villages of Bembridge and St Helens, home to a variety of pubs, cafes, and eateries offering the best Island produce.
The entrance is due south of Portsmouth Harbour and is marked by a tide gauge topped with a yellow cross. As you pass the tide gauge the village of Seaview will be to starboard and St Helens Fort to port. Vessels should leave the tide gauge to port on their approach which will line them up with pairs of channel markers - the first pair being buoys 1 and 2 which are lit at night - all other buoys are marked with reflective tape. On passing buoys 6a and 7a you will be running parallel to the shore with the Harbour entrance appearing in the distance. On big Spring tides beware of a strong current through into the Harbour.
A live-feed electronic tide height gauge, showing the depth of water over the bar, is displayed on the Harbour website and at the Berthing Office, with information updated every 60 seconds. Pictorial and video guides to the Entrance Channel can also be found on the website and a Navionics chart shows approx depths for guidance.
Once inside the Harbour there is a drying beach anchorage on your port side adjacent to Bembridge Sailing Club. Approximately half way down the Harbour on your starboard side you will come to the Duver Marina visitors’ pontoon which gives access to the shore on the north side of the Harbour.
Visitors are requested to call on VHF Channel 80, Callsign: “Bembridge Harbour” on entering the Harbour for berthing instructions. Individual “Premier” finger berths can be booked in advance online. Alongside berths can also be booked online - at busy times during the summer months it may be necessary to raft out.
Harbour staff are on duty 0800-1800 seven days a week (summer hours). Rallies of 5 or more boats are welcomed with weekend and mid-week discounts available. As a general rule of thumb, access to the Harbour for a vessel drawing 1.5m is ±3 hours HW Portsmouth, Neaps or Springs. An on-going dredging programme maintains average depths of 2m MLWS along the visitor’s pontoon, which has been extended to increase available berthing space. Shoreside facilities have been refurbished with new facilities are planned and await final planning permission.
There is a water taxi service, VHF Ch 80 Callsign ‘Bembridge Water Taxi’ tel: 01983 872828. The taxi operates from the Duver Pontoon with various pick up and drop off points (subject to tidal access). There is a small provisions shop within the Berthing Office, an independent seasonal cafe, showers and toilets, water, electricity, and waste removal facilities. WiFi is available. A lift out and scrub service for visitors with RIBs/powerboats up to 10m (5 tonnes) is available at Bembridge Boat Storage bembridgeboatstorage.co.uk) and can be arranged through the Harbour or Berthing Office. Undercover and external dry-stack storage also available.
Contact: Bembridge Harbour Authority, Harbour Office, The Duver, St Helens, Isle of Wight, PO33 1YB. Tel: 01983 872828. bembridgeharbour.co.uk or follow the Facebook page