Grove Ferry Boat Club

56th Anniversary  1964 - 2020

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AIS -River Safety - Live Planes

These notes are for guidance only and should be considered only in conjunction with official publications available from the Royal Yachting Association and other sources (see Links)

The Rules

The River Stour is tidal from it's mouth up to the fixed sluice at Fordwich and over this stretch, which covers some 19 miles of river, it is covered by COLAS regulations. This is the international code for the prevention of collisions at sea.

This code applies to all craft from canoes and coracles up to the biggest supertanker. Of course, a supertanker would not be able to get up the river, but the rules still apply.


The main points to remember though, are that, in simple terms, you need to drive on the right. You should also remember that larger craft need deeper water.

In the confines of the River, the deep water channel wanders from side to side with the deeper area often on the outside of bends. A canoe needs only inches of water to float in, whereas a 30 to 40 foot boat may need 6 feet or more of water to stop going aground. This may mean that, at times it is necessary to pass the 'wrong' way round. The reason being that a large vessel, with little ability to change the side of the river they are using, comes into the category 'vessel restricted in it's ability to manouver'.


Current, wind and speed, and form of propulsion all have an effect on a boat's ability to change direction. For example a large motorboat, with shaft driven propellers and a single rudder going downstream would have very little control when stopping compared to an outboard powered small boat going upstream. The same would apply to a coxed four going downstream compared to a single kayak going in the opposite direction! For this reason, the with current or tide on its stern vessel (it changes 4 times a day) is given priority when a 'give way situation is encountered between two vessels of similar characteristics.


On the river there are a number of 'blind' bends which require extra care. On approach to these bends, all vessels should give a long (3-5 seconds) blast of their horn. If possible, they should keep to starboard (the right hand side) of the channel. Signals are explained in the RYA publication on Inland Waterways. Vessels traveling in company should approach these bends line astern (single file) and not abreast. An example earlier this year was a largish motorboat rounding a bend to find a number of canoes spread out across the river. The motorboat went astern to stop hitting the canoes, but this caused the boat to slew around due to the 'kick' of the propeller. The canoes scattered all over the place upon seeing a large motorboat doing what was basically an emergency stop. From the level of a canoeist, close to the surface, it must have been a terrifying sight, but the canoeist were the ones in the wrong as they were spread across the river.


Speed should not inconvenience other river users. That means using common sense and keeping wash to a minimum when passing moored vessels or overtaking slower ones. Also when passing other boats, your wash should be such that it will not throw the other boat all over the place. Don't forget that there could be someone below with a hot kettle! Rowing skiffs have very little freeboard and can easily be swamped from a thoughtless speedboat. Many outboard powered vessels create a disproportionate wash for their size and need to be particularly aware of the mayhem that they can leave behind them! Other river users also include people enjoying the river from the banks, such as anglers and walkers.

Between Shellness, near the mouth of the river, to above Sandwich, there is a speed limit of 8 knots which should be observed, but if you did 8 knots through the Sandwich moorings you would get some very angry looks as this speed is too fast. Use your common sense and you will not go far wrong!!

Please Note Tide Times. Sandwich Bridge High Tide is 1 hour after Dover HT and Grove Ferry is 3-1/4 Hours after Dover HT


The map below is live AIS from ships around our coast. It is refreshed every 90 seconds and if you place the cursor over any ship, it will give you all the information of her name, speed and direction. If you left click on the mouse when over the selected ship it will give you a photo and lots of further information about where she is heading etc. On the lefthand side you can find any port in the world and it will take you straight to the map of that area and see all the vessels there. The index shows what type of craft and you can tick or untick the boxes to filter out any information that you don't want see.


This live flight map has full permission to be shown on our website and is from

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A busy club on the River Great Stour