Entering Wells Harbour
Whether approaching Wells Harbour from the Blakeney Overfalls, the South Race, the Woolpack or the Burnham Flats, you will have no difficulty in laying and holding a course for the Wells leading buoy. The water, though quite shallow in parts, presents few hazards and the tides are not overly powerful. A useful homing guide is the long plantation of fir trees at Holkham Meals... Wells lies immediately at the eastern end of this plantation.
Prior to, or on, arrival at the leading buoy, it is advisable to call the Harbour Master on VHF Channel 12 ("Wells Harbour"). He will then advise you of the entry time. If you are attempting to enter at night or are unsure, the Harbour Launch is often available to escort visitors into the harbour and up to the quayside. If entering at night, a good spotlight or torch will be helpful.
On spring tides, Wells Harbour may be entered by craft drawing up to 3m (10ft) at high water. On neap tides, vessels drawing up to 1.75m (6ft) can enter at high water or two hours either side of high water. As a guide, vessels with a draft of up to 1.5m (5ft) can look at entry three hours either side of high water up to the lifeboat house on all states of tide. The channel is continually dredged from the entrance to the lifeboat house. For more up-to-date access times contact the Harbour Master.
The entrance channel across the bar and into the harbour is subject to change from time to time, however the buoyage system is relatively stable.
From the Leading Buoy (a west cardinal mark) approximately 165°, the North Outer Buoy, a yellow special mark flashing Y 2.5s, is visible in most conditions. Pass either side of the yellow buoy and make good a course for the South Outer buoy, flashing red once every three seconds. On approaching this buoy, the large Green No 1 conical buoy and Red No 2 can boy will be visible to starboard (South). Make good a course to come between them until the smaller buoys of the channel become visible.
From the starboard buoy No. 9 (the 'Knock'), the channel bends away towards the south-east into quieter waters. The wide sweep to the east just past the lifeboat house must be made with the red buoys quite close on the port-hand side as the channel is quite narrow. On passing the green buoy named the 'Pool', sweep round to the south-west and follow the buoys to the last red can buoy then sweep back south-east close to the marsh edge and follow the red buoys all the way to the quay.
All commercial vessels working from the Outer Harbour should call VHF Channel 12 for clearance before entry or departure.
We would like to emphasise that all vessels should maintain a listening watch on channels 12 and 16 while inside the port so that the harbour launch can raise them if necessary. A minority of visiting vessels fail to call Wells harbour on channel 12 before entering, which can cause problems with berthing at the pontoons. We would appreciate it if visiting vessels would call the harbour before entering.
On the east side of the channel marking the berm are small red can buoys which are unlit. These are placed between the main channel marker buoys.
The West Cardinal outer mark flashes Q(9) 15s, the north outer Q R and the two porthand marks into the Outer Harbour x2 R 5s. All other lit marks flash R or G 3s.
AC 108, SC5614
Please note: from April 2018, the North Outer Buoy (Bar End North) has been replaced with a yellow special mark, flashing Y 2.5s. This is a trial to improve its visibility from seaward and is positioned so it may be passed either side. The following South Outer Buoy remains a porthand mark.
Prior notice of entry required if possible. Shipping - at least 24 hours notice required. Contact Harbour Master.
Access at harbour entrance (No 1 buoy)
Max draft 3m at high water springs. Most vessel movements 2hrs before to 2hrs after HW, dependent on draft. There is considerably more scope for local vessels which are familiar with the entrance. The channel is continuously dredged from the entrance to the lifeboat house. Contact Harbour Master for latest access information.
Tidal Window Outer Harbour
Commercial and wind farm vessels have an access of up to 3.5 hours either side of HW. There is more scope available on neap tides. Vessels must inform Wells Harbour on channel 12 before movement. All skippers must obtain a Captain's Handbook from the Harbour Office.
Call "Wells Harbour" on VHF Channel 12 before or on arrival at the Leading buoy or telephone Harbour office (01328) 711646.
Call "Humber Coastguard" on channel 16.
The harbour launch will help direct vessels if possible or requested. A good spotlight/torch is always helpful on entry.
Weather and sea conditions information is available live at the Harbour Office.
Moorings and berths
Pontoon berths, if available, are just inside the quay to west or berths alongside the quay wall. Visitors' moorings available on request. Do not moor your craft from the middle to the east end of the main quay - this is used by commercial fishing vessels.
For suitable positions contact harbour staff. Please keep fairway and channel clear. Do not anchor in vicinity of the quayside, within mooring areas or in front of the lifeboat house.
Diesel oil available on the tide at the fuel berth. Contact the Harbour Office. Fresh water is available on the pontoons or from the main quay.
Electricity is available on the pontoons. All refuse should be placed in bins on the main quay. Do not dispose of refuse in the harbour.
All craft must observe the speed limits and must not create excessive wash in the inner harbour and quayside.
Notice for visiting vessels
No crabbing on the pontoons. No barbeques on the pontoons. Pontoons to be kept clear of all obstructions at all times.