Rye harbour: passage, pilot and mooring information for boaters

Navigation, passage planning, pilotage service and mooring details for boaters using Rye Harbour.

The port of Rye is a fully operational commercial harbour with a large fishing and leisure fleet. There are a number of navigation aids in place to assist you.

Regulation of vessels underway

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions At Sea operate throughout the harbour. Particular attention must be given to keeping a good lookout, especially astern.

A maximum speed limit of 6 knots is enforced throughout the harbour and boats should manoeuvre at dead slow when passing moored boats.

VHF radio channels

Boats fitted with VHF radio are advised to monitor VHF channel 14 whilst manoeuvring in the harbour or its approaches.

  • Rye Harbour VHF channel 14
  • Lydd firing range VHF channel 73 or 13

East Pier foghorn

One short blast every 7 seconds.

International Port Traffic Signals

International Port Traffic Signals are regularly operated in the harbour. You must comply with these signals when they’re switched on. They’re located on the east pier and three quarters of a mile (1km) inland, near the Harbour Master’s office.

These are only switched on when there are commercial traffic movements. When a cargo vessel is being piloted in the harbour, lights will show on the signal masts by the harbour office, and amber lights will flash on the harbour office roof. All vessels must keep clear of the entrance and the main channel during this time.

Contact Rye Harbour radio (VHF channel14), before entering the harbour.

(Admiralty Charts Nos. 2451 536 1991)

In strong on-shore winds, the seas in Rye Bay can be very rough, often breaking well off-shore. Take care when you approach the harbour entrance in on-shore winds greater than force 6.

If you approach from the west, keep at least 2 miles off-shore, in a depth of not less than 6 metres until Rye Fairway Buoy is sighted (Spherical R.W.Fl every 10 sec), position 50 54 04N 00048 02E-149 degrees true X 1.8 nautical miles from the harbour entrance.

There are numerous anchored gill nets in the bay. These are usually marked at each end by dan buoys and have a minimum depth of water over them of 2 metres.

Lydd firing range

The Ministry of Defence operate the Lydd Firing Range to the east of Rye Harbour, extending 3 miles along the coast with prohibited areas to seaward varying in distance from 1.5 nautical miles to 2.5 nautical miles.

When firing is taking place there are range safety patrol boats to give advice to mariners (VHF channel 73 or 13). Firing times can be obtained from the Harbour Master’s office (telephone 01797 225225).

Rye harbour approaches

The easiest approach to the entrance is from the Fairway Buoy, on a rhumb line course of 329 true, keeping the port and starboard entrance markers wide open. The harbour entrance is 42 metres wide and is marked by a red painted tripod beacon (flashes red every 8 secs) 30 metres seaward of the West Groyne, approximate position 50 55 55n 000 46’65E.

Harbour entrance

The west side is marked by a red tripod beacon. The light flashes red every 8 seconds positioned 30 metres seaward of the West Groyne. Don’t attempt to pass between the tripod and the West Groyne. There may be strong eddies inside the West Groyne during the flood stream and mariners should be prepared to apply correcting helm (usually to starboard) when passing the West Groyne.

The East Pier, which is submerged at high water springs, is a further 240 metres inland. It has a green square steel structure with a green board at the top which flashes white every 15 seconds. The seaward face of the green board is illuminated at night. The East Pier also has 4 unlit starboard hand beacons.

Main Channel

Once inside the piers there is good shelter in all conditions. The channel narrows to 30 metres and runs straight (329 true) for half a mile with Rye Harbour village on the west bank and the Harbour master’s office on the east bank.

Attention must be paid to the west training wall which submerges at high water but is well marked by port hand beacons and lights. The east training wall is sloping and is marked by starboard hand beacons and lights. The River Rother has a maximum flood stream of 5 knots on spring tides and reaches this maximum velocity between high water and 1 hour.

All new arrivals must stop at the visitor’s jetty and report to the harbour office for berthing instructions and further navigation information.

Rye Harbour dries out completely at low tide. Boats should not approach the harbour more than 2 hours before high water and more than 3 hours after high water.

Boaters without good local knowledge wishing to berth in the soft mud near the town of Rye should not arrive at the entrance to the harbour later than 1 hour after high water.

Pilotage service

Pilotage is compulsory for all ships over 30 metres long navigating in any part of the Harbour of Rye. Requests for specific pilotage services must be made to the Harbour Master, with 24 hours notice. Less notice may be accepted in specific circumstances.

Any ship navigating to the Harbour of Rye and liable to pilotage in the harbour should establish radio contact with the Harbour Master to notify his position when no more than 5 and no less than 2 nautical miles from the No. 2 red light tripod beacon. Ships should not proceed closer without the Harbour Master’s direction.

Any ship navigating to or from the harbour and liable to pilotage in the harbour should board or land a pilot no less than 1 nautical mile from No. 2 red light tripod beacon.

Contact Rye Harbour:

Harbour Master: James Bateman Deputy Harbour Master: Karl Sandercock

Rye Harbour Office
New Lydd Road
Camber, East Sussex
TN31 7QS

Tel: 01797 225225 Fax: 01797 227429 VHF Channel 14

You can contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506*.

Environment Agency 24 hour incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60

Find out about call charges


Visitor moorings: Strand Quay

On arrival, if you haven’t made radio contact with the Harbour Master, go alongside the timber staging known as Admiralty Jetty, just upstream of the harbour office. From here you can go ashore for berthing instructions and local information.

All moorings in the river dry out at low water, so boats will take the mud twice a day.

Visiting boats less than 15 metres long can generally be accommodated in the town itself, at Strand Quay. These moorings have steel-piled walls with timber fendering and access ladders every 15 metres.

If your boat is longer than 15 metres, you are advised to make arrangements with the Harbour Master before your arrive.

Strand Quay is an ideal place to moor up and stay overnight while visiting the town of Rye. There are picnic benches and bike racks. You can also use the bike racks at the Harbour Office.

There are pedestals along the quay where you can get power and drinking water. Across the road there is a shower and toilet block. This facility is kept solely for boaters’ use. To get access you’ll need a code from the Harbour Office.

Annual moorings

Annual moorings are available on request. Contact the harbour office for more details.

There are also a number of private operators offering long-term moorings along the rock channel.

Public slipway

Rye Harbour public slipway is open all year round. It is next to Rye Harbour lifeboat station in the village of Rye Harbour. To use the slipway you must buy a disc from the Harbour Office or from Rye Harbour Marine.

Rye Harbour charges

Harbour dues

All vessels using the harbour must first pay for a harbour dues disc from the harbour office.

Contact the Harbour Office on 01797 225225, or the Environment Agency if you have any queries.

You must display your registration disc clearly on your boat, preferably on a forward facing window.

VAT is chargeable on all dues and fees, but dues related to the carriage of cargo are zero-rated. Annual fees are for the period of 1 April in any year to 31 March in the following year.

Type of vessel 24 hour fee 7 day fee Monthly fee Annual fee (only for boats under 15.2 metres)
Boat under 8m (non cargo) £5.68 £38.85 £11.43 per metre £23.40 per metre
Boat 8-10m (non cargo) £6.83 £45.79 £11.43 per metre £23.40 per metre
Boat over 10m (non cargo) £9.08 £59.36 £11.43 per metre £23.40 per metre
Dinghy without an engine, not normally moored below mean high water spring (MHWS) £2.06 N/A £25.37 £50.44
Canoe, kayak and sail board £1.00 N/A £30 N/A
Cargo boat N/A 28p per cargo tonne landed or loaded N/A N/A

See the charges for visiting boats to Rye harbour for calculations of the harbour dues and mooring fees you need to pay by boat size.

Yearly rates are not available to boats over 15.2m (50 feet) - monthly rates will be applied.

Harbour dues for cargo vessels are calculated on the cargo tonnage that is to be landed or loaded and is charged per week whether the vessel is loaded, part loaded or empty.

You can’t get a refund or partial refund for harbour dues or mooring fees.

Harbour dues for fishing boats based at Rye

You pay a fee of £23.40 per metre per year if you own a fishing boat based at Rye (except those at Simmons Quay moorings).

Fishing boats moored at Simmons Quay pay a fee equivalent to harbour dues and mooring fees for a 10m boat: £1259.52.

Fishing boats based at Rye are registered fishing boats that pay annual dues and have a recognised permanent mooring in the Harbour. These dues apply only to vessels exclusively employed in sea fishing or in the sea fishing service. Boats used solely or mainly for pleasure excursions can’t apply for this fee.

Annual mooring fees

You must pay mooring fees if you’re the owner of a boat using moorings under annual licence from the harbour authority.

Mooring Annual fee (per metre)
Rye Harbour Road Moorings £100
Strand Quay pontoons and Rock Channel moorings £120
Simmons Quay and Admiralty Jetty £83.24
Strand Quay Moorings £88.39

There’s a minimum charge length of 6 metres for annual mooring fees.

The fee for multi-hulled boats is 1.5 times standard mooring fees (except for registered fishing boats).

A fish hut annual fee is £1239.

You can’t get a refund or partial refund for harbour dues or mooring fees.

You must notify the Harbour Master in writing if you sell or dispose of your vessel.

Short term mooring fees

Visiting boats including fishing boats using harbour authority moorings 24 hour fee 7 day fee Monthly fee (only applies from 1 September to 31 March)
Under 8m £7.17 £42.37 £84.73
8-10m £8.60 £51.83 £103.83
Over 10m £11.46 £68.89 £141.59
Single tide visit (up to 5 hours - includes harbour dues and mooring fees) £8.34 N/A N/A

Exemptions from harbour dues and mooring fees

You’re exempt from harbour dues and mooring fees if your boat is:

  • clearly identified as a tender to a boat already paying dues
  • of the RNLI, MCA, British Sea Fishery officers, police officers while on duty

If you owe any money to the Environment Agency while your vessel is in Rye harbour, your vessel and equipment can be seized and used as security until you pay.

Miscellaneous charges

Activity Fee
To launch craft, other than dinghies from the authority’s slipway (inclusive of harbour dues) £14 per day
£145 per year
Use slipways at Strand Quay and Rye Harbour (for maintenance careening etc) £31.63 for day 1
£18.95 every day thereafter
(fees may be waived for emergency repairs - contact the Harbour Master)
Use of Strand Quay for launching/recovering craft £68.70
Hire of harbour launch £70 per hour
Harbour staff £80.00 per hour

Commercial filming or photographic shoot permits are available upon application to the Harbour Master.

Published 1 April 2014