Green Book Information   Navigation on the Broads


The legislation covering navigation in the Broads Authority’s navigation area is contained within the Broads Authority Navigation Byelaws 1995, Broads Authority Speed Limit Byelaws 1992 and Broads Authority Vessel Dimension Byelaws 1995 (all available on the BA website). Within its navigation area, the Broads Authority employs rangers in clearly marked launches; their directions should be obeyed and their advice followed.

Broads boaters should be aware that different regulations apply in the two harbour areas adjacent to the BA’s navigation area: that part of the River Yare, downstream from its confluence with the River Bure, which is administered by the Great Yarmouth Port Company (t/a EastPort UK), and the ‘salt side’ of Mutford Lock to Lowestoft Harbour, which is administered by Associated British Ports. In these harbour areas International Collision Regulations generally apply to pleasure craft. In the event of any doubt, queries should be addressed to the Broads Authority, EastPort UK or Associated British Ports at Lowestoft.

Some particular points to note:

  • Craft keep to the right of the river or channel
  • All craft under power or sail must keep clear of another restricted in its ability to manoeuvre.
  • All craft have an overriding duty to take reasonable steps to avoid collision. There is a particular regulation concerning craft under sail avoiding the risk of collision with each other.
  • Craft under power should slow down or alter course to give way to craft under sail alone. Always try to pass astern of a tacking sailing boat. Don’t ‘go for the gap’. Act as advised by the sailing boat’s helmsperson.
  • Navigation lights are required after dark (defined as between sunset and sunrise).
  • No water skiing or wake boarding is permitted except under certain conditions (see below and BA website).
  • All craft should be navigated at a speed safe in the conditions. Craft under power must observe the marked speed limits of 3, 4, 5 or 6 mph against the land. The maximum penalty for speeding is a £1,000 fine plus costs. Various methods of speed checks are used

Boatowners can help combat speeding and bad behaviour generally by noting the name and number of the offending craft, together with its location and a description of the helmsperson, and phoning Broads Radio Control on 01603 756056. Witnesses may be called to give evidence if the Broads Authority brings a prosecution.

Channels on rivers and broads are clearly marked to avoid shallows and hazards: going upriver, keep red on the left (port), green on the right (starboard); a yellow and black post marks a confluence. A hazard along the bank may be indicated by a single yellow marker (buoy or post). If you observe any unmarked hazards outside the channel please contact Broads Control on 01603 756056 to report the matter.

Over the next 10 years, BAM Nuttall, contractors for Broads Environmental Services Ltd (BESL) on behalf of the Environment Agency, will be working on flood defences throughout the Broads, reconfiguring the banks and moving heavy plant and equipment around the waterways. Take note of warning signs and directions given and give the machinery and vessels a wide berth. Always take care where works have recently been completed until the new banks and reedbeds are established. Any restrictions on navigation due to this work, dredging, maintenance of bridges and unplanned bridge failures, etc are shown in Urgent Boating News and Notices to Mariners on the BA website.

Take special care while navigating the marked water-ski zones, keep well to the right and secure all objects and people that are likely to fall if heavy wash rocks the boat. Warning signs identify the zonesí locations, and the times when skiing is permitted. There are 11 designated zones: on the River Yare, downriver from Postwick, Brundall and Reedham, upstream from Cantley and Hardley Dyke; on the River Waveney, five zones downriver from its confluence with Oulton Dyke; and one on Breydon Water.*

Competitive rowing takes place on the River Yare between Whitlingham and Surlingham, and on the River Waveney through Beccles, and from Burgh St Peter to Somerleyton, including Oulton Dyke and Broad.* When rowing vessels are sighted, helms of other craft should slow down in plenty of time. The boats may be converging quite fast and a fair distance may be rowed in the time it takes for another boatís wash to die down. Excessive wash can easily swamp a rowing vessel and may even sink it.
* Zone limits are marked by yellow signs; details are on the BA website and in BA Waterways Code leaflets.

Craft under power should always try to pass behind a tacking sailing boat. Don’t ‘go for the gap’. Slow down and pass safely astern or as advised by the boat’s helmsperson.