Chichester Harbour is without doubt one of the most beautiful harbours on the South Coast.
Chichester Cruising Guide
Surprisingly, Chichester Harbour can be all things to all people. It is one of the foremost dinghy racing areas and home to some amazing fleets from the beautiful Sunbeams and X boats to the spectacular International 14s and Moths, regularly hosting international events.
It is an amazing wildfowl sanctuary where sightings of rare birds are common including little Egrets, Curlews, and Grebes to name a few. It is an excellent fishing area and a Sea Bass nursery which is probably why we have a colony of seals living in the harbour and often on view.
It has a historical heritage that is quite amazing being the entry port for the Romans during the construction of the Fishbourne Roman Villa. Bosham is reputedly the location for King Canute’s tidal activity and King Charles allegedly visited Birdham lock house.
And it is home to some 10,000 vessels, six marinas, 10 yacht clubs, and, of course, the Ancasta Chichester Boat Sales Office.
Where would I go if visiting this harbour for the first time? Firstly, do your homework. Chichester can be confusing and a little challenging for the unprepared, but with reasonable preparation and following the numerous guides it is a perfectly safe and clear channel.
The first port of call would be the East Head anchorage. Comes up on your starboard side as you follow the marked channel round past the Winner Shingle bank, ensure you know the state of tide to avoid grounding at low water. The current can be quite strong here so be sure to lay out 4 times the maximum depth you will be in with chain (6 with warp). Then sit back and enjoy, maybe take the dinghy to the beach and sand dunes or just watch the activities. If this is too busy for you proceed a little further up the channel towards the South Cardinal mark of Camber and enter the Thorney Channel where another anchorage appears on your port side just off Pilsey Island, generally a quieter spot but remember as this is the Thorney Island military base and you should not land there. If this does not suit then back to the main channel and go up to the Chalk Dock beacon a starboard hand mark and round it towards the Itchenor Reach and again on the starboard side an anchorage will appear. These anchorages all have good holding ground and are clearly marked on the chart.
No visit is complete without a visit to Itchenor. As your enter the Itchenor Reach via the starboard hand Fairway buoy you will see to starboard the now sadly closed Southerly Yachts buildings and then to starboard will appear 5 large white buoys marked ‘visitor’. Pick any one of these, although sometimes it is necessary to “raft up”. A visit to the Ship Inn should be compulsory I think, the manager Mike keeps an excellent cellar with some fine proper (real) ales and not only that, a very good restaurant as well. From these buoys you can get a taxi ashore or across the water to Bosham Hoe where it is a very pleasant short walk along the water’s edge to Bosham itself. Another must do trip as the village is charming with tea rooms and craft shops and The Anchor Bleu which can be very busy during the Summer months but is another good pub.
If Marinas are more for you then continue up the channel towards Chichester Marina, on both sides you will see some fabulous properties and as you bend around the channel to face north easterly you will get a marvellous view of Chichester Cathedral spire and the pretty village of Dell Quay. You will pass to starboard the Birdham pile, the entrance towards Birdham Marina which is reputed to be the oldest marina in the country, visitors only by prior arrangement. Carry on to the next starboard hand mark and turn sharply to starboard to begin your approach to Chichester Marina. The channel here is not wide and there are no port hand marks so rule of thumb is no more than a boat’s length off the starboard marks. Normal procedure is to moor on the outer waiting pontoon and go up to the marina office for berthing instructions. The marina has some of the best facilities around but also available is the very good Chichester Yacht Club and the Boathouse Restaurant and Café. For the more energetic a walk along the waterside towards Dell Quay and you will find another excellent pub, the Crown and Anchor, known for its fish menu. If visiting Chichester Marina, be sure to drop into the Ancasta Office located a few doors down from the afore mentioned Boat House Café.
I have not mentioned the Emsworth Channel where there are three marinas, Sparkes, Emsworth and Northney. Emsworth provides access to the village itself. The other two are quite remote and only Sparkes has a bistro on site as yet.
Chichester Harbour offers huge diversity to boat owners and is enjoyed by cruising boats from all over the world. Hope to see you here.
Written by, Doug Griffith Yacht Services (www.dgys.co.uk or phone 07885 636306) As a Yachtmaster Instructor motor and sail DGYS can offer RYA training to Yachtmaster standard or uncertified refresher courses. DGYS also undertake deliveries, sea trials, expert advice and general consultation on all marine matters. DGYS has been in operation for about twenty years based in and around Chichester.