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.
Image Credit: Bembridge Harbour Authority
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 intertidal 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, sheltered harbour with beautiful beaches, and although the entrance is tidally restricted, once inside its shelter a warm welcome awaits visitors whatever the weather. It’s 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 - 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, can be found on the Harbour website and displayed at the Berthing Office, with info updated every 60 seconds. Pictorial and video guides can also be found on the website. As a general guide, access to the Harbour for a vessel drawing 1.5m is ±3 hours HW Portsmouth, Neaps or Springs. Regular dredging maintains average depths of 2m MLWS along the visitors’ pontoon.
Visitors should call “Bembridge Harbour” on VHF Ch 80 once in the Entrance Channel to receive berthing instructions. Harbour staff are on duty 0800-1800 seven days a week (summer hours). Once inside the Harbour there is a drying beach anchorage on your port side. The Visitors’ Duver pontoon at the Duver Marina is approx half-way down the Harbour on your starboard side. The addition in 2020 of finger pontoons means there is now no rafting unless requested and consented to in advance, other than in a designated Rally Area for pre-booked rallies of 5 or more boats. All berths are booked online via the Harbour website.
A Water Taxi service (VHF Ch 80 Callsign ‘Bembridge Water Taxi” or tel: 01983 872828) operates from the Duver pontoon, with various pick up and drop off points (subject to tidal access).
Shower and toilet facilities were refurbished in 2020 and the “Galley Locker” within the Berthing Office enlarged for 2022, selling essentials including Island produce. An independently run seasonal Duver Café is open every day from April, and Steve’s Bar”, opened in 2021, quenches thirsts with Island made ales, spirits and wine. Both facilities are outside with seating available and a large marquee for less friendly weather.
Berthing includes electricity and water - waste removal and WiFi is free. 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 on Facebook
Please note, this information is to be used as a guide only and not for navigation.