Rye harbour: passage, pilot and mooring information for boaters

Navigation, passage planning, pilotage service, mooring details and charges 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 (COLREGs) 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
  • 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 channel 14), 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. When 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. It extends 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. 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
  • 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 direction and services

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. This should be done 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.

Pilotage direction does not apply to:

  • ships that are less than 20 metres long
  • fishing boats that are less than 47.4 metres long


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.

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.

Charges for visiting boats

These prices include VAT, harbour fees, use of water, toilets and showers.

Number of days Under 10 metres Over 10 metres
1 day £20 £25
2 days £40 £50
3 days £60 £75
4 days £80 £100
5 days £100 £125
6 days £120 £150
Number of weeks Under 10 metres Over 10 metres
1 week £120 £150
2 weeks £200 £250
3 weeks £300 £350

There are different charges for commercial vessels and other types of boats, such as dinghy’s and canoes.

For details of the harbour and mooring fees you need to pay see Rye harbour: navigation charges.

Rye Harbour safety plan for marine operations

The Environment Agency is committed to promoting good management of its available resources to:

  • carry out and regulate marine operations in a way that safeguards the Rye Harbour, its users, the public and the environment to achieve the standard of marine safety required by the Port Marine Safety Code
  • encourage use of Rye Harbour and ensure that its economic development considers and balances the views and needs of all stakeholders with the use of natural resources and conservation of the environment

Safety plan management targets 2021 to 2023

Target 1: navigational incidents

Action: marine activities and risks will be regularly reviewed. Risks will be reduced to ALARP.

Measure of success: there will be no major incidents, serious injuries or serious pollution because of a failure of the safety management system.

Target 2: conservancy and hydrographic surveys

Action: we will provide and maintain navigation aids. A triannual bathymetry survey will also be carried out.

Measure of success:

  • aids to navigation will meet the PANAR targets of Trinity House (GLA)
  • we will ensure that the port and approaches have an adequate plan of hydrographic surveys and that these are undertaken in line with industry standards for hydrographic surveying
  • information about hydrographic surveys will be shared with UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO)

Target 3: pilotage service

Action: provide a pilotage service.

Measure of success: no major incident because of pilot or PEC holder error.

Target 4: training of marine personnel

Action: put a training policy in place.

Measure of success: there will be continuous professional development and enough training for marine personnel.

Target 5: liaison and consultation with port stakeholders

Action: Rye Harbour advisory committee to meet at least 3 times per year.

Measure of success: there will be regular consultation about marine safety matters for new and existing activities.

Target 6: port marine safety code and designated person provision

Action: there will be an independent annual audit of the Marine Safety Management System.

Measure of success: we will be compliant with the requirements of the PMSC. Observations and corrections will be carried out in a timely manner.

Target 7: legislation and powers

Action: will we carry out an annual review of legislation and powers.

Measure of success: the powers available to the Harbour Authority will be appropriate and fit for purpose.

Contact Rye Harbour

Harbour Master: James Bateman

Deputy Harbour Master: Karl Sandercock

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

Telephone: 01797 225225

Fax: 01797 227429

VHF Channel 14

You can call the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506.

Environment Agency 24 hour incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60

Find out about call charges

Published 1 April 2014
Last updated 28 July 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated the pilotage direction and services section with information about boats that are exempt.

  2. Updated charges for visiting boats and added information about the harbour marine safety plan.

  3. First published.