COASTGUARDS in Christchurch have urged water users to exercise “extreme caution” when entering and leaving Christchurch Harbour due to the shifting on the sand bar near Mudeford Quay.

RNLI Mudeford and Hengistbury Head NCI have been called out to help rescue a number of vessels have been beached or run aground at the channel’s entrance, known locally as 'The Run', over the past few months.

Whilst the coastguards are unaware of the exact depth of the channel, they have advised boat users to be particularly careful when steering through the new harbour entrance.

A Hengistbury Head NCI spokesperson said: “As ever, the winter weather has shifted the entrance to Christchurch Harbour and this year the sand bar you can see in the photo has emerged.

“Hengistbury Head NCI advise extreme caution in navigating the entrance to Christchurch Harbour at all times but particularly so at present.

“Aside from running aground, the other significant danger is damage to propellers and stern gear.”

The navigation marks within the Harbour have now been laid for the season and we understand that the buoys marking the entrance channel are due to be laid in the next month or so.

The channel is marked by red and green buoys during the spring and summer season, usually from Early May Bank Holiday until the end of September.

At the downstream end of the Quay, there are two vertical green lights which mark the shoreward end of the channel where it joins the entrance to 'The Run'.

The speed limit within this channel is 8knts however, due to the shifting of the sand bar, it is recommended that vessel slow to 6knts maximum when entering the channel.

Boat users at Christchurch are encouraged to refer to tidal prediction tables and graphs prior to taking to the water.

The spokesman at Hengistbury Head NCI added: “We do endeavour to monitor traffic going in and out of the Harbour so far as our operational situation allows.

“We are available on VHF Channel 65 from 8am to 7pm and can provide those calling with the day’s tidal predictions.

“Vessels that run aground and are unable to get themselves off should call HM Coastguard on VHF Channel 16.”

For more information on Christchurch Harbour, visit