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Langstone Harbour lies on the mainland to the northeast of the Isle of Wight, between Portsmouth Harbour and Chichester Harbour. It is a large natural tidal harbour that dries to channels and creeks at low water. It is used by commercial shipping, fishing vessels and leisure craft. Visiting vessels may pick up moorings or anchor.

Langstone Harbour lies on the mainland to the northeast of the Isle of Wight, between Portsmouth Harbour and Chichester Harbour. It is a large natural tidal harbour that dries to channels and creeks at low water. It is used by commercial shipping, fishing vessels and leisure craft. Visiting vessels may pick up moorings or anchor.

The harbour offers good protection from all winds. However the moorings and the anchorage are exposed to a large body of water and particularly so at high water. This along with its strong tidal currents make it very uncomfortable in boisterous conditions. If it were to become uncomfortable, a marina set within the harbour may be made use of. Although the harbour is accessed over a moderately deep sand bar, and between sand banks, it is very well marked and straightforward.
Please note

Large dredgers may be encountered at any stage, in the entrance or in the channels. They should be given a wide berth as they have limited room and manoeuvrability. Berths in Langstone are subject to strong currents and at a distance from the shore. A tender with a reliable outboard will be essential.

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Keyfacts for Langstone Harbour
Waste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideSlipway availablePublic house or wine bar in the areaBus service available in the area

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club base

Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from ESE, SE, SSE, S, SSW, SW and WSW.Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.

Last modified
July 17th 2018

Summary* Restrictions apply

A good location with straightforward access.

Waste disposal bins availableDiesel fuel available alongsideSlipway availablePublic house or wine bar in the areaBus service available in the area

No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationRemote or quiet secluded locationAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderQuick and easy access from open waterNavigation lights to support a night approachSailing Club base

Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from ESE, SE, SSE, S, SSW, SW and WSW.Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be charged

HM   +44 23 9246 3419      Ch.12 [Langstone Harbour Radio]
Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 48.443' N, 001° 1.196' W

This is the position of the anchoring area in the Langstone Channel.

What is the initial fix?

The following Langstone Harbour initial fix will set up a final approach:
50° 45.100' N, 001° 0.807' W
This is set half a mile west of Winner south cardinal to avoid the East Winner shoal. This shoal extends almost two miles from the east side of the entrance. Steering for Fairway Beacon, aligned with a conspicuous chimney one mile behind on the eastern side of the headland on 345°T, clears East Winner.

What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in the westbound Route location or eastbound Route location sequenced 'Selsey Bill to Start Point' coastal description.

  • Eastern approaching vessels should pass close south of the Winner south cardinal.

  • Western approaching vessels may round Horse Sand Fort and steer for the Winner or cut through the Horse Sand Fort to Southsea submerged barrier. Then approach eastward across the outer edge of the sands.

  • Aligning Langstone's Fairway Pile with a chimney on the eastern side of the headland, on 345°T, provides a safe approach close west of East Winner.

  • After passing the Langstone Fairway Pile steer a course of 353°T for the entrance.

  • Berthing options include picking up moorings as directed by Langstone Harbour Master, anchoring in Langstone Channel or going into the separately covered Southsea Marina.

Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to Langstone Harbour for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Southsea Marina - 1 nautical miles SSW
  2. Hayling Yacht Company - 2 nautical miles E
  3. Northney Marina - 2.6 nautical miles NE
  4. Sparkes Marina - 3.2 nautical miles ESE
  5. Gunwharf Quays Marina - 3.5 nautical miles WSW
  6. Gosport Marina - 3.7 nautical miles W
  7. Haslar Marina - 3.7 nautical miles WSW
  8. Emsworth - 3.8 nautical miles NE
  9. Port Solent Marina - 3.9 nautical miles NW
  10. Royal Clarence Marina - 3.9 nautical miles W
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Southsea Marina - 1 miles SSW
  2. Hayling Yacht Company - 2 miles E
  3. Northney Marina - 2.6 miles NE
  4. Sparkes Marina - 3.2 miles ESE
  5. Gunwharf Quays Marina - 3.5 miles WSW
  6. Gosport Marina - 3.7 miles W
  7. Haslar Marina - 3.7 miles WSW
  8. Emsworth - 3.8 miles NE
  9. Port Solent Marina - 3.9 miles NW
  10. Royal Clarence Marina - 3.9 miles W
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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How to get in?

Langstone Harbour separates Portsea Island from Hayling Island. It is an uninterrupted area of about 5,000 acres that is enclosed by nearly 15 miles of shoreline. Almost 70% of the harbour dries to mudflats at MLWS but the main channels always offer in excess of 2 metres for the majority of their length. It is today part of the Solent area Special Area of Conservation and has international and UK designations mainly for its bird life. Yet it remains a very busy commercial port where as many as 500 vessels import over half a million tonnes of marine aggregate each year through its commercial wharves.

Langstone Harbour is entered between two flats locally known as The Woolseners that extend from either side of the mouth of the harbour. These are called the East Winner and West Winner and both run out south by southeast from the entrance. The banks shift over time and are subject to height alterations according to the preceding winter’s gales.

East Winner, formed of sand, is the largest of the banks extending out almost two miles from the shoreline. It dries off at LWS for more than half that distance and is steep-to on its western or entrance channel facing side. The southern end of this is marked by the unlit Winner south cardinal.

The corresponding West Winner bank, formed of gravel, has largely washed away over the past decade. It is now a flat with 1.1 chart datum available 200 metres out from the shoreline. From there a plateau, with depths from 1.1 to 1.8 metres, stretches out southward for three quarters of a mile.

A quarter of a mile off the head of the West Winner is the Langstone Fairway Pile, situated approximately a mile to the south of the harbour entrance. Langstone Bar is situated one third of a mile south by southwest of this fairway mark. It has a least depth of 1.8 metres over it.

The banks offer a great measure of protection to the outer approaches to Langstone Harbour making an approach easy in most weather conditions. Best water will always be found from High Water -3 to +1 hour. However in heavy weather, or if there is any swell, there is one sheet of broken water over the Winners, with heavy rollers. The bar is likewise dangerous at these times, especially near low water on the ebb. It would be inadvisable for a newcomer to approach Langstone Harbour in any onshore winds above Force 6.

All visiting vessels must report to The Harbour Office and it is best to contact the Harbour Master's office in advance. Though their moorings rarely get overrun it is possible to book moorings in advance by phone and pay by credit card. Likewise the Harbour Master office staff are only too delighted to lead a vessel to its allocated mooring and assist in berthing. Staff are on duty every day (0900 - 1700) including weekends between April and October.

Langstone Harbour Master Office P: +44 23 9246 3419, VHF Channel 12, listen on channel 16 Call sign [Langstone Harbour Radio]. All vessels using Langstone Harbour are obliged to pay harbour dues and display their daily or annual plaque.

Eastern Approach Vessels approaching from the east, especially so at less than half tide, should pass close south of the unlit Winner south cardinal buoy. This clears the hazard presented by the shallows extending southward from East Winner bank.

At half-tide or above, with a keen eye to the sounder, it may be possible to cut half a mile inside the buoy.

Western Approach Vessels approaching from the west have three approach options and in all cases the initial fix can be ignored preferring to make a direct route for the Langstone Fairway Pile.

Langstone Fairway Pile - LFl.10s 7m5M position: 50° 46.317'N, 001° 00365'W

The western approaches are as follows:
(i) The open water approach outside of Horse Sand Fort.
(ii) Cut through the submerged barrier, between Horse Sand Fort and the shore, main passage.
(iii) At half-tide or more cut through the submerged barrier’s smaller passage off the shoreline.

The open water approach is to round Horse Sand Fort and steer for Langstone Fairway Pile. An excellent astern transit is provided by bringing Horse Sand Fort over No Man's Land Fort on a 235°T.

This will lead about 300 metres south of the Roway Wreck isolated danger marker F1 (2) 5s and then on to the Langstone Fairway Pile situated a mile north by northeast. Those taking this approach should guard against confusing the Roway Wreck isolated danger marker for the Langstone Fairway Pile.

With sufficient rise a convenient short cut may be had by cutting through one of the passes in the submerged barrier that exists between Horse Sand Fort and the mainland at Southsea. The submerged barrier is made up of concrete pedestals that vary in height and partially uncover at LW. The defensive barrier, set in place in 1905, joins the Horse Sand Fort with the site of the former Lumps Fort that existed on the shore above the beach. The barrier is marked by yellow beacons with yellow top marks along its length. There are two passages through the submerged barrier.

In the middle, about a mile south from the shore and north from the fort, is the well-used Main Passage. The cut is 55 metres wide, marked by a lit dolphin Q.R on its southern side and a lit green top-marked pile Q.G.2M on the north side.

Main Passage – Dolphin Q.R. 6m2M position: 50°46.005’N 001°04.105’W

The dolphin is readily identified in daylight from a great distance. The pass between the pile and the dolphin has a depth of 1.2 metres chart datum. Unless a vessel is enjoying a favourable tack the pass can be considered the preferred route. It can save some considerable sailing and especially so for eastbound vessels from Portsmouth.

A smaller boat passage lies 200 metres from the shoreline at the north end of the barrier. The passage is 12 metres wide and has a depth of 0.6 metres chart datum and is located quarter of a mile east of the head of South Parade pier head. The north side of the passage is marked by a starboard beacon and the south side by a port beacon. On the top half of the tide this is also a valid option for most leisure craft making for a nice cruise along the beach and off the head of South Pier.

Once through either of the submerged barrier’s cuts it is possible to ignore the initial fix and steer east across the outer edge of the sands. This course leads close south of the black/red/black Roway Wreck isolated danger marker whereupon it is safe to steer for the Langstone Fairway Pile. Least depth for this passage is 1.7 metres chart datum but take care not to drift north as a 1.3 metre patch is situated close north of the described track. However with a good rise and a keen eye on the sounder this may also be cut significantly as West Winner has largely washed away.

Initial fix location From the initial fix steer for Langstone Fairway Pile that may be difficult to pick out at first. A prominent chimney on the eastern side of the headland helps identify the entrance itself. It is situated close west of a narrow white radar post about one mile behind the fairway pile. Placing the chimney in alignment with the Langstone Fairway Pile, on 345°T, provides a safe approach off the steep western side of East Winner. Watch out for cross currents whilst tracking in.

Alternatively by night, the short sea outfall at Eastney Point Light-beacon, port hand Q.R, in line with the 2F.R (vert) on the jetty 200 metres to the north, tracks in on 354°T with a least depth of 1.7 metres chart datum on the bar.

After passing the Langstone Fairway Pile steer a course of 353°T for the entrance that will be readily apparent from this distance. About half way between the Fairway Pile and the mouth of the entrance depths begin to increase and the cross currents will transform into a very strong tidal stream either coming in or out of the entrance. In the event of strong onshore winds, expect a rough wind-over-tide seaway here especially towards the end of a spring ebb.

The entrance is between Eastney Point and Gunner Point, and the half mile pass up to the inner entrance, where the harbour opens up above, is aptly known as The Run. Tidal rates attain up to 3.4kn on springs with maximum velocity achieved at the north end of the entrance. The Run is deep, 300 metres wide and free from dangers although when at full stream the moorings off the west side of the Run tend to get pulled under and are not easily seen. The west side is the preferred path as it is the steepest and deepest.
Please note

Langstone deep-water visitors' moorings shown on most charts to be on the starboard side of the inner entrance have been removed.

It is possible to make the best of a foul tide by closely hugging the western shoreline. To make the best of it round the Eastney Point outfall mark and the jetty, 200 metres to the north, then find a suitable sounding along the western shore drifting out a little just opposite the Eastney Cruising Club. From there pass close inside the Eastney Cruising Club moorings, close outside the port pile marker and from there pass close to the Hayling Ferry jetty, the service currently discontinued, that marks the end of The Run.

Above the run the broad extent of Langstone Harbour opens out. The separately covered Southsea Marina Click to view haven lies behind a tidal gate that is approached via a ½ mile long channel entered 150 metres to the northwest of the Hayling ferry pontoon. The speed limit throughout the harbour area is 10 knots.

Haven location Small craft moorings will be found inside the entrance lining each side of the main channel. The northern limit of the main channel is marked with two lit buoys; the East Milton buoy, Fl(4)R.10s, marking the west side of the navigable channel, and the NW Sinah buoy, Fl.G.5s marking its east side and the western extremity of Sinah Sands. From the entrance to these marks there is a least depth of no less than 4 metres. Pick up a mooring as directed by the harbour master.

On the port side of the inner entrance, adjacent to the Eastney Cruising Association clubhouse, there are six deep water moorings that the club rents from Langstone Harbour Board. These are for the occasional use of members but they may be made available by arrangement with Eastney Cruising Association +44 23 9273 4103. The moorings are only designed to support vessels of up to 7.6 metres, 25 feet, LOA.

Vessels intending to anchor may do so in the Langstone Channel. Buoyage can be complex at times in the harbour because of the number of branching channels, broad and minor inlets. The Langstone Channel is accessed about a mile above the entrance. It branches off to the northeast at Sword Point, leaving the Broom Channel to continue in a northerly direction. It is marked by buoys and beacons, some of which are lit.

The Langstone Channel is entered from the head of main entrance channel by, and most unusually, passing close southeast or to port of the ‘NW Sinah’ green starboard hand buoy and a mooring close southeast. From there steer to pass southeast or to port of a stranded wreck on Sword Point marked by a pile isolated danger mark.

The channel then runs in a northeast direction for about a mile and then in a northerly direction for about three quarters miles. It is bounded by extensive areas of sand and mud which dry at low water; Sinah Sands to the south and Sword Sands to the north.

Within a 100 metres of the isolated danger mark the first of two floating platforms will be seen bordering the north side of the Langstone Channel. The first a MOD paint test platform and the latter, further up the Langstone Channel, is a club water ski platform. These platforms mark the anchoring area. Four metres of water over a clean, sandy bottom, with excellent holding will be found on a line between these marks.
Please note

Do not tie off to the platforms. The MOD platform has dangerous sharp edges and the ski platform is private club facility that is actively used.

Land by tender at the deep water landing pontoons either side of the harbour entrance or pull the tender up on the nearby beaches. Unfortunately the anchoring area is a long tender ride from the landing areas, approaching three quarters of a mile, where very strong currents may be encountered. A reliable outboard will be essential. When available the harbour launch may be hired to come ashore. With the water ski club platform adjacent it is common to have water-skiers in this area.

Low air draught vessels may pass between Langstone and Chichester harbours at high water. This may be achieved by passing north around Hayling Island and passing under Hayling road bridge that connects the island to the mainland.

The pass is made through North Lake which is entered off the head of the Langstone Channel. Although dry at LWS North Lake has a depth of 3.7 in at MHWS. The bridge has an airdraft of 1.3 metres and the passage underneath it is 9 metres wide. Under the bridge North Lake leads into Sweare Deep just outside the entrance to Northney Marina. This then connects with Chichester’s Emsworth Channel. There is no navigable channel leading north-westward to Portsmouth Harbour, except for dinghies.

Why visit here?
Langstone derives its name from the conjunction of lang and stan meaning place by the large, or tall, stone. Although today a tidal basin it was very different 12,000 years ago in the Mesolithic period.

The sea level in 10,000 BC lay at about 35 metres below today’s sea level, although it was rising rapidly. Then Langstone Harbour was a grass land and fen filled basin where its present day channels would have been the tributary Rivers Langstone and Broom flowing into the then River Solent. Within this forest there is ample evidence of Mesolithic man living in temporary hunting camps. In the late Neolithic and early Bronze age the fen became alder carr fen and woodland. However between 4000 and 3500BC the icecaps of the last ice age began to melt and sea levels slowly rose causing the area to gradually flood. The harbour took on its final natural form in the middle ages. After this it was mankind that would shape the environment we see today.

What has attracted mankind, as early as the Bronze Age, to Langston harbour is its ability to produce salt. The Domesday Book records three salterns situated in the harbour. By the 17th century salt production was well established in Langstone and Chichester harbours. This was largely a process of boiling of seawater, concentrated by sun and wind, in lead or iron pans over coal fires. South coast salt making seems to have declined as a whole by the 1830s. By then these systems had fallen into decline and had become uneconomic when compared to alternate sources, particularly so from mined salt from Cheshire and salt imported from the Continent. A large storm of 1842 also did much damage what remained of the industry. Oyster farming in the harbour goes back as far as Roman Times and resumed around 1820, and Winkle and Clam cultivation probably started around much the same time. Production ceased in the 1950s and the old disused Oyster beds have been turned into an artificial lagoon that is now a breeding ground for birds.

On the western entrance to Langstone Harbour stands the pentagonal artillery fortification Fort Cumberland that started life in 1747. It was erected to guard Langstone Harbour so as to prevent enemy forces from landing here to attack the Royal Navy Dockyard from the landward side. Its clever inconspicuous design makes it scarcely noticeable but it is widely recognised as the finest example of a bastion trace fort in England. It is now managed by English Heritage.

One of Langstone Harbour’s most conspicuous manmade objects is the wrecked Phoenix breakwater situated immediately inside the entrance. Prior to the D-Day landings of 1944 the area around the Ferry Boat Inn was one of the areas used to construct sections of the Mulberry Harbours. These were massive artificial floating harbours that were towed across the English Channel as a follow-up to the World War II Normandy landings discussed in more details in the Stokes Bay entry. The breakwaters of the Mulberry Harbours were assembled from 'Phoenix' reinforced concrete caissons such as the one remaining in Langston Harbour. This smaller ‘type C’ caisson developed a fatal crack during construction and would not have survived the journey to France. Hence it was abandoned on the Sinah sandbank in Langstone Harbour where it has remained until this day.

Today the shallow marine basin of Langstone is enclosed by a manmade legacy of low walls and embankments. As sea levels continue to rise, the sea defences prevent the natural process of the mudflats and saltmarshes moving inland. These natural habitats are thereby trapped between the higher sea level on one side and the sea defences backed by the land requirements of industry, housing, roads, and recreation on the other; a process known as coastal squeeze. To strike the balance Langstone and Chichester Harbours were designated a wetland in 1987. This made them a Special Protection Area under the European Directive on the conservation of wild birds. It is now an internationally important habitat for a range of water fowl and waders. The harbour is administered by the Langstone Harbour Board who strive to find the right balance between the harbour’s commercial opportunities and managing its internationally recognised environmental designations.

From a visitor perspective Langston Harbour is less than impressive at first glance. It appears muddy, bleak and remote. But once a visitor becomes settled, the harbours unusual and varied character makes itself known. Langstone Harbour is relatively quieter, less developed and less intensively used than its immediate neighbours, the commercial and naval harbour of Portsmouth and the yachting centre of Chichester Harbour. Harbours views are generally expansive and, because of the shallow gradient of Langstone’s mud flats, are utterly transformed by the state of the tide. At MLWS it is all dark mudflats with less than one fifth of its entire area being covered by water. By contrast at MLWS it resembles an almost landlocked lake with almost 95% of its area covered by water.

Its landward horizons are just as varied; circling clockwise from the city skyline of Portsmouth, to the chalky ridges of Portsdown Hill to the wooded shore of Hayling and South Downs in the distance. The hint of industry transforms quickly into the rural. Views out to the Solent are restricted by the narrow entrance but the hilly backdrop of the Isle of Wight is a nonetheless conspicuous to the southwest.

The single character that remains from all this, especially so on anchor in the middle of the harbour, is a tangible sense of remoteness, naturalness and closeness to the wild. This is emphasised by the harbour’s wildlife that include a colony of seals alongside its array of birds. All of which is made more remarkable when one considers it has quarter of a million people living within a five mile radius.

What facilities are available?
Diesel is available by self-service from the Hayling pontoon. This service requires the use
of a fuel tag that may be purchased from the Harbour Office. Fresh Water is also available only on the Hayling Pontoon. Both are also available from Southsea Marina. Waste reception facilities for refuse and waste oil are provided for Harbour users at the Board’s premises, Ferry Point. There are launching facilities for small craft on trailers at Ferry Point, Hayling Island; Broadmarsh, Havant; Eastney Beach, Portsmouth. A scrubbing off grid is available on the North wall Harbour Board premises, Hayling Island (charges apply). A scrubbing off post is available beside Eastney Ferry pontoon, Portsmouth. Eastney Cruising Association has a bar, showers and toilets. Public toilets, situated by the side of the “Ferry Boat Inn” pub, are available on the Hayling side of the harbour entrance. Provisions are available in West Town, Hayling Island 2KM away (1.5 miles).

Any security concerns?
Crime is relatively rare in Langstone Harbour. The Harbour office has a complete view of the entire body of water and keeps a sharp look out.

With thanks to:
Chris Gardner, Russell Denger, S. Gosling Langstone Harbour Masters Office.

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