Navigational Safety

The principal deep water navigational channels within the statutory limits of the port of Barrow are well marked by buoys and lights. These channels are used by commercial vessels, including large deep-draughted vessels, Windfarm crew transfer vessels, Piel Island ferry service and other traffic.


Most recreational sailors take a justifiable pride in the responsible way they conduct themselves. Part of this is a realisation that hindering passage of large commercial vessels is not only bad manners but dangerous to themselves, their crews and the ship itself.

Recreational users of the port area are particularly requested to remind themselves of and observe, the Collision Regulations, Port of Barrow Byelaws and Local Notices to Mariners.

Speed of Vessels

Barrow Harbour Byelaws prohibit the navigation of a vessel above a speed of 8 knots except with the expressed permission of the Harbour Master and in designated areas as defined by Local Notice to Mariners No.17/2015:

Reference the Port of Barrow Byelaws Part II Section 8 Speed of Vessels: "Except with the permission of the Harbour Master and, subject to byelaw 7 [Vessels to Navigate with care] and the Collision Regulations, the master of a vessel shall not cause or permit the vessel to proceed at a speed greater than 8 knots."

The Harbour Master has granted permission for vessels to exceed the 8 knot speed limit in the channel between the following Aids to Navigation when safe to do so: 

  • Lightning Knoll/Sea 1 and West Scar/East Scar buoys 

  • Head/Pickle Scar beacons and West Elbow buoy/East Elbow beacon

See below channel diagram and notes for further clarity: 

Download the full Local Notice to Mariners No.17/2015 here.

Safety In Smaller Craft


The Collision Regulations apply in the Port. Furthermore it is an offence to navigate a vessel in the Port at such speed or in such manner as to be likely:

  • To endanger the lives of or cause injury to persons

  • To cause damage to any property including moorings and river banks

  • To interfere with the navigation, manoeuvring, loading or discharging of other vessels.


Except with the written permission of the Harbour Master there is an 8 knot speed limit within the Port.


This is not allowed in the Port except in such areas and over such courses as designated or agreed by and in accordance with conditions that may be laid down by the Harbour Master.


Smaller craft should not obstruct larger vessels constrained to the Channels. No moorings are to be laid and no nets are to be cast in the Channels. The Channels extend from Lightning Knoll to Ramsden Dock entrance and further past No.16 and 18 Buoys whereupon a 40m clear width Channel is required for safe passage to the Jubilee Bridge and beyond to the Dock Museum basin entrance. 

Note: The Port includes the enclosed dock system, the Scarth, Walney, Piel, Inner and Outer Channels.

Collision Avoidance Check List

  • Avoid ship channels. Cross them quickly and at right angles.

  • Be alert. Watch for ship traffic.

  • Be seen. Especially at night.

  • Know whistle signals - five or more means Keep Clear.

  • Listen to VHF R/T channel 12 - if you have to transmit keep your message brief, say what you have to say, then keep listening.

  • Use up-to-date navigation charts - read Local Notices to Mariners at your local club or marina.

  • When in doubt, Keep Clear. Always be prepared for the unexpected. Lifejackets do not help if you are not wearing them.