Set deep within the estuaries’ channels Itchenor provides complete protection. Chichester's channels and its dredged sandbar are all well marked and maintained making access straightforward in most conditions. However this does not mean it may be availed of at all times. Vessels carrying any draft should check that adequate depths are available at the bar and tidal streams in the entrance are very strong, especially so on the spring ebb when a dangerous wind over tide develops with onshore winds. Entry should not be attempted in any developed onshore conditions.
Keyfacts for Itchenor
SummaryA completely protected location with straightforward access.
Position and approaches
Haven position50° 48.494' N, 000° 51.984' W
This is the position of the northwest end of Itchenor Jetty.
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
- Chichester Harbour's entrance lies between the two drying sandbanks of the West Pole and Middle Pole and a sand bar situated half a mile offshore. It has a dredged channel across the Bar with depths of 0.7 to 1.5 metres below Chart Datum.
- Approach the West Pole from the south and pass it close to port along with the mid pole or Bar Beacon steering for the entrance.
- Follow the western shore until abreast of Hayling Island Sailing Club and then pass south of the Fishery south cardinal buoy and North of The Winner bank to pass into the Chichester Channel.
- Pass Stocker, Copyhold and Sandhead port hand red buoys to port and then pick up the Roman Transit Beacon to continue northeast.
- Pass the Chalkdock Light-beacon on its correct side and then make for the Itchenor Reach starboard hand Fairway buoy.
- Moor up on one of the six swinging moorings off Itchenor jetty or alongside the floating river pontoon further up channel on the south side.
Not what you need?
How to get in?
Itchenor, technically known as ‘West Itchenor’, is a village and civil parish that lies on the shores of Chichester Harbour about 3½ miles within its entrance. It is home to the Harbour Master's office and the Chichester Harbour Conservancy whose role it is to run Chichester Harbour, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, as a nature reserve. Being home to both these key bodies causes Itchenor to be considered the unofficial headquarters of the harbour area. The small beautiful village is also a pivotal point for ferries and offers swinging moorings plus mid-river pontoon berths off its deep water jetty.
The bar lies between the two drying sandbanks of the West Pole and Middle Pole. It commences half a mile south of the entrance and extends seaward for a further half a mile and is marked by the inner Chichester Bar Beacon. This port hand mark is a 10 metres high single pole topped with a red can.
Bar Beacon - Pole Fl(2)R.10s10m4M position: 50º 46.023 N, 000º 56.380 W
The Bar is periodically dredged to achieve a depth of 1.5 metres below Chart Datum. The dredged channel across the Bar is approximately 200 metres wide with the western edge marked by the transit between the outer West Pole Beacon and the Bar Beacon. Add to this the available water and this should provide a depth of about 2 metres MLWS over the sand bar. However, shoaling often occurs after strong winds and depths over the bar may vary by up to 0.8 metres. A June 2015 survey of Chichester Bar presented the least depth of 1.1 metres below Chart Datum, about 1.6 metres MLWS, at that time. The latest information can be found on the Chichester Harbour Conservancy website.
In the absence of the latest information the outer West Pole, situated 1.25 miles south by southwest of the entrance, has a tidal gauge. The tidal gauge indicates the depth of water above Chart Datum not the depth of the dredged channel through the bar. A conservative rule of thumb would be to assume an additional 0.70 metres of water below the height above Chart Datum presented on the West Pole gauge. This would provide a depth of 1.25 metres overall in the channel at MLWS. A weather station has been recently installed on the West Pole Beacon. It provides real time wind speed, wind direction and height of tide readings.
Visitors who have to make the best of adverse conditions should note that a very dangerous seaway can be encountered on the approaches when an ebb tide collides over the outer shallow grounds, with strong winds from the southwest round to southeast; the latter being the worst. Likewise, after crossing the bar and passing into the narrows of the entrance, Spring ebbs attain a rate of up to 6 knots which when encountered leave many boats ‘standing’ on full throttle. Although some relief may be had by coming in as close as possible to the Hayling Island side of the channel, that is steep to and clean, it remains advisable to exercise caution and only cross the bar in the four hours between HW -0300 and HW +0100 after HW springs. A night-time entry should only be attempted with local knowledge and in very settled conditions.
No entry should be attempted in very strong onshore winds or when there is any big swell running. At these times the sea breaks furiously over the shallow sands and even across the entrance, particularly so on an ebb tide.
Itchenor berths are limited but the Harbour Master manages to accommodate all its visitors. If there are any questions regarding berthing the harbour office can be contacted on VHF Ch. 14 or P: +44 1243 512301.
Vessels approaching from the east should take special note of The Owers, to the south of the low lying Selsey Bill, which will require consideration and detailed planning. From Selsey Bill keep 2 miles off the shoreline across Bracklesham Bay not venturing into anything less than 5 metres. A sharp watch should be maintained for lobster pots throughout this area.
On closer approaches to the West Pole Beacon it is advisable not to cross the 5 metre contour until West Pole Beacon bears 310° T or greater to avoid the East Pole Sands.
Vessels approaching from the west should note the sandbars that front the mainland, the Horse and Dean Sand shoal east of the entrance to Portsmouth, and those that front Langstone and Chichester estuaries.
The most dangerous of these is the East Winner off the eastern side of the entrance to Langstone Harbour. Formed of sand this bank extends out almost two miles from the shoreline and dries off at LWS for more than half that distance. The southern end of this is marked by the unlit Winner south cardinal buoy that, on less than half tide, should be passed close south. At half-tide or above, with a keen eye to the sounder, it may be possible to cut half a mile inside the Winner buoy. Shape a course from the Winner to pass close outside the West Pole Beacon.
The initial fix is the position of the substantial West Pole Beacon. The 14 metres high tripod structure is nevertheless difficult to identify from seaward. By night it exhibits an all-round red light Fl.R.5s7M.
On reaching the beacon shape a course of 013° T to the centre of the harbour entrance keeping the Bar Beacon close to port. Closer in the red Eastoke port hand Buoy and West Winner Beacon will be seen. The West Winner Beacon marks the eastern edge of the drying Winner shingle bank that extends out across three quarters of the width of the entrance’s eastern side.
Once within Eastoke Point follow the western shoreline steering a course midway between the marks, as the strength of the tide eddies are strong on both sides. It is possible to make the best of a foul tide by closely hugging the western shoreline. Hayling Island Sailing Club about half a mile in from the entrance will clearly be seen and the helmsman should be prepared to turn to starboard when it is alongside.
Passing up the narrows, Chichester Harbour will be seen to open out above to present itself as low lying and marshy, and made up of tidal flats with deep channels running through them. The Fishery south cardinal buoy, Q(6) + LFl 15s, at the head of the narrows off the entrance, divides the harbour into its two primary arms of the Emsworth and Chichester channels.
The Emsworth Channel continues northward along the eastern shores of Hayling Island. It leads to the Hayling Island Yacht Company , Emsworth before branching off into Sweare Deep for Northney Marina to which it is marked by lit buoys and perches all the way. At the commencement of the channel, immediately around Black Point and close north of Hayling Island Sailing Club, is the approach to Sparkes Marina that is accessed through a dredged channel marked by beacons.
At high water low air draught vessels may pass between Chichester and Langstone harbours from the Emsworth Channel. This can be achieved by passing north around Hayling Island and passing under Hayling road bridge that connects the island to the mainland.
The Chichester Channel turns abruptly east by northeast abreast of Hayling Sailing Club and is entered by passing south of the Fishery Buoy. The channel is buoyed and lit as far as the entrance to Chichester Marina about five miles within the entrance. The channel passes the recognised anchorages of East Head, Thorney Channel, and Chalkdock Point to connect with the Bosham Channel, leading to Bosham Quay, and Itchenor Reach. Itchenor Reach continues to Birdham Pool, Chichester Marina and Dell Quay.
Vessels continuing up the Chichester Channel should start turning eastward, or to starboard, after passing Hayling Island Sailing Club. The course then passes north of The Winner following its arc of three starboard hand green buoys, NW Winner Fl G 10s, N Winner Fl(2) G 10s and Mid Winner buoys Fl(3) G 10s, to starboard as they curve around the northwest edge of the bank. These marks are close to the shingle bank’s steep outer edge and it is critical not to attempt to cut inside them.
After the starboard hand Mid Winner buoys the Stocker red port hand buoy Fl(3) R 10s and, half a mile eastward, and the port hand red Copyhold buoy Fl(4) R 10s mark the north side of the channel passing south of Pilsey and Stocker's sands.
On the opposite south side of the channel are the green starboard East Head Spit buoy Fl(4) G 10s, off the north of East Head, and green starboard Snowhill buoy Fl G 5s. During the season there may be many yachts anchored at East Head anywhere close south of a line between these starboard hand buoys. On busy summer weekends anchored vessels may creep northward encroaching upon the channel making it difficult to identify these marks. The channel, passing north of the moored vessels, will never-the-less be readily identifiable.
The next marks to observe are Sandhead, Fl R 10s port hand, and Snowhill Fl G 5s starboard, that are again situated about half a mile eastward. After these marks the channel turns to the northeast, or port, passing between the Camber south cardinal pile and the unlit starboard green Rookwood buoy situated about 400 metres east by northeast.
Thorney Channel branched off from the Chichester Channel close west of the Camber Light-beacon south cardinal pile, Q (6) + LFl 15s. The Camber Light-beacon stands 500 metres southeast of Pilsey Island about 1½ miles within the entrance. The Pilsey Island anchorage is 400 metres within the junction of the Thorney Channel. The small rural Thorham Marina is situated on the northeast side of Thorney Island. It is accessed via the Thorny Channel that leads on to Prinsted Channel at the head of which the marina lies about 2½ miles above the Camber Light-beacon.
After these marks the channel is marked by the Roman Transit leading marks standing on the north side of the channel close west of Cobnor Point. The front mark is the port hand Roman Transit Beacon and it aligns with the rear mark main white, rectangular top mark, located quarter of a mile north by northeast of the front mark on the shoreline. The alignment of 033°T of these marks leads in the centre line of the section of Chichester Channel.
If the marks are difficult to identify a conspicuous group of trees, called Stoke Clump on the distant downs as marked on the charts, provides another conspicuous alignment point for these marks. The edge of the drying banks, particularly on the eastern side, are also marked by a number of unlit perches that should be given a wide berth near low water.
Between the front port hand Roman Transit Beacon and starboard hand Chalkdock Light-beacon Fl(2) G 10s, the channel turns eastward. It then passes south of Cobnor Point and north of Chalkdock Point, where the line of the blackthorn hedge pulls back. Though there appears to be a large body of water between Chalkdock Light-beacon and the point it is important to stay in channel and not cut the corner here. The channel dries out to the perch markers, position as much as 500 metres out from the shoreline, and it is shallow close inside of the Chalkdock Light-beacon.
After the Chalkdock Light-beacon make for the Fairway Light-buoy Fl(3) G 10s just over half a mile away on a bearing of about 080° T. North of the point, and south of a line from the Chalkdock Light beacon to the Fairway Light-buoy, is the Chalkdock Point anchorage. The fairway between is about 300 metres wide with port and starboard perches continuing along the edge of the drying banks.
The Fairway Light-buoy is a starboard buoy, moored 300 metres southeast of Cobnor Point. It is set at the entrance junction of Chichester Channel, the Bosham Channel leading to Bosham Quay and the west end of Itchenor Reach.
From the Fairway Light-buoy the east-southeast running Itchenor Reach channel is marked by permanent moorings set along both sides of the channel. Continuing up the channel the first jetty that extends from the southern shore is privately owned by the Northshore shipyard where Southerly boats are built. Itchenor jetty is situated 300 metres upstream to the southeast. Beyond Itchenor the Itchenor Reach channel continues east by southeast to round Longmore Point into Chichester Lake. Within this largely drying expanse of mudflats are the tidal Birdham Pool Marina , Chichester Marina and finally Dell Quay that is situated within 2 miles of the cathedral city of Chichester and was once its port.
Itchenor makes itself known by its jetty and the overlooking harbour office. Visitors normally pick up one of the six white buoys, marked ‘visitor’, swinging moorings situated off the jetty. Each mooring can normally take up to six vessels depending on their size. It should be noted that the crew of any vessel utilising the moorings must stay aboard during the night.
If the intention is to leave the vessel unattended overnight continue 600 metres up channel to the floating pontoon. The floating pontoon can be found lying off the southern shore and, like the swinging moorings, has no walk ashore capability. Up to six visiting yachts can be accommodated off its western end. The eastern or up-channel section of the pontoon is reserved for permanent berth holders.
A water taxi may be availed of or a tender launched to come ashore. Land at the Itchenor Jetty, which is available to tenders at all states of the tide, or on the hard.
Why visit here?
This was long after the Romans had already left their mark in the harbour. Claudius’s 43AD Roman landing in Kent is recently being reconsidered. The remains of military storehouses found under Fishbourne Roman Palace, on the shores of the harbour, have historians considering that the landing may have occurred on the central south coast and possibly even within Chichester Harbour. At the very least it is believed that the Roman invasion was preceded by a small army enclave or ‘military mission’ within the harbour from about 30sAD. This troop would have had a largely harmonious relationship with the local Atrebates tribe that is evidenced by the major Roman projects embarked upon so quickly within the area. The construction of the major Chichester temple had commence by the 50s AD and the magnificent Fishbourne Palace was completed by 75-80 AD. The Romans were the first to use the harbour for serious transportation and commerce. The palace site had a quay and it is likely that supplies for the earlier Roman military presence came in here along with building materials for the palace. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, the last Roman soldiers left Britain in 407 AD, the historical trail goes cold until the late Saxon period.
Royal connections came in the late 1600s when The Royal Yacht ‘Fubs’ was berthed off Itchenor. Its chief guest would be Louise Renée de Penancoët de Kérouaille who the king was having an affair with. Louise was to capture and retain a hold on Charles's affections to his deathbed. She even found an unexpected ally in Queen Catherine, who was grateful for the kindness and consideration that Louise had always shown her. Louise did extraordinarily well from the relationship. She was granted the titles of ‘Baroness Petersfield’, ‘Countess of Fareham’ and ‘Duchess of Portsmouth’ and received enormous pensions and money allowances. She was however openly hated in England for being French and Catholic, rather than for any promiscuity. Nell Gwynne, Charles' other prominent mistresses, called her "Squintabella", and when mistaken for her, replied, "Pray good people be civil, I am the Protestant whore. ". Charles however was truly attached to Louise and his dying instruction to his brother was to "do well by Portsmouth". One of Charles's nicknames for her was 'Fubbs', meaning plump or chubby which was the female form in vogue at the time. Hence his royal yacht, HMY Fubbs, was especially built referring to Louise. Through her son by Charles II, Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond, Louise is an ancestress to both wives of Prince Charles: Diana, Princess of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
Itchenor Park House was built in 1784 as a country retreat for the 3rd Duke of Richmond; the farm buildings being the original stabling and quarters for grooms. He built Jetty House on the Hard for use as his yachting lodge and a ‘hot sea bath’. The Customs House was established in Jetty House in 1852 and leased from the Duke of Richmond. Itchenor jetty was also used for the transfer of coal into ‘lighters’ for carriage up to Dell Quay. At Dell Quay it was loaded into road wagons for Chichester, a labour intensive and inefficient procedure.
By the nineteenth century shipbuilding had declined. Although water mills and oyster fishing continued to give Itchenor a commercial purpose, the expansion of the railway system rendered it commercially obsolete. Nevertheless boat building restarted at Haines’ Yard just before World War I. The yard, along with the whole of Itchenor, went on to play a key part in the allied war effort in the Second World War. At that time Vospers had been bombed out of its Portsmouth dockyards and moved into Itchenor to build fast motor launches. The four 17th century cottages, extended as part of the Itchenor Sailing Club, were used by the services for planning the D-Day landings. In the years since the Second World War the Harbour began to evolve into an area of recreation which continues to dominate the harbour today.
Today Chichester Harbour is one of the most important recreational centres for water sport on the South Coast of England. During the summer more than 5000 yachts and pleasure craft are moored in its various branches, marinas and yacht harbours. If the harbour has a headquarters then it's probably here at Itchenor. It is home to the Harbour Master's office and the Chichester Harbour Conservancy which runs Chichester Harbour as a nature reserve. The work of the Conservancy and the Harbour Master has helped to make the harbour an area where wildlife and recreation can co-exist successfully.
The small beautiful village has managed to retain much of its historic charm and this is largely driven through strict building regulations. The fishermen’s cottages in ‘The Street’ preserve much of their original appearance though most have been modernised. The church is the village’s oldest building, but a house now known as the Old Rectory house dates from the 15th century. The buildings that the Harbour Master's office and the Chichester Harbour Conservancy share, called ‘Ferryside’, was once the home of the Haines family, who also ran the ferry. The Northshore Yard, which is to the west of the Itchenor quayside, keeps up the tradition of ship building for the UK and export markets. Likewise Haines yard continues to provide excellent services to the harbours leisure yachts.
The village’s Itchenor Ship Inn is a firm favourite with both locals and visitors. Boats for sightseeing trips run from here and a passenger ferry crosses in summer to a lane beside the Bosham Channel, leading to Bosham, which keeps the jetty busy.
What facilities are available?Water is available alongside Itchenor jetty where most vessels can come alongside at all states of the tide. There is also a free pump-out station here. Rubbish disposal is at the foot of the jetty and also oil dumping facilities. There are three chargeable showers behind the harbour office, who provide tokens for their use, and public toilets at the front. The foreshore, close north of the jetty, has scrubbing piles for moderate draught vessels. Contact the harbour office for fees. Itchenor has several boatyards that can take care of almost any problem a boat may encounter.
Itchenor is a beautiful village but has no provisioning capability. The Ship Inn, located about 100 metres up from the jetty, is a local favourite which serves good food throughout the day and evening. There is a petrol station and mini supermarket about 5 minute’s taxi ride, or half an hours walk, along the road to Chichester. Further along, about a 10 minute’s taxi ride, there is a chandlery.
Any security concerns?Never an issue known to have occurred to a vessel visiting Chichester Harbour.
With thanks to:Phil Walker Deputy Harbour Master. Photography by Michael Harpur.
Tom Cunliffe overviews the run with the old Bar Beacon
The approach to Chichester Harbour and then the run up the Emsworth Channel
Views from Itchenor Jetty
Add your review or comment:
Patrick Doherty wrote this review on Oct 17th 2016:
Did a night entry into Itchenor last week, the navigation was really easy, the lights were easy to follow and plenty of detail. Depth was good and we were on neaps.Average Rating:
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