Scroll Top
River Safety

River Safety

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!!

Tide Times

Sandwich Bridge Contact Number for booking to open the bridge is Tel No 01843 585624
Highway Marine now control the opening and closing from Monday to Friday during daylight hours.
They can be contacted on Channel 8 during these hours if you are running late for your booking.
On Weekends or in darkness hours the bridge will be controlled by the Dover company still at the same Tel No above.


Please see the table below to calculate the tide times for different locations along the Stour

DestinationMiles from Grove FerryTide Difference from DoverInformation
Fordwich Mill5.1+ 4 hr 35 minFixed Sluice
Stodmarsh2.5+ 3 hr 45 min
Grover Ferry0+ 3 hr 15 minBridge
Sarre Channel3.2+ 2 hr 32 min(Not navigable)
Little Stour3.3 + 2 hr 30 minRiver Junction*
Pluck's Gutter3.4+ 2 hr 29 minRoad Bridge
Red House Marsh4.4+ 2 hr 16 minClub Picnic Site
Minster Rail Bridge6.8+ 1 hr 45 min
Richborough Castle8.7+ 1 hr 20 minRoman Fort
Sandwich Bridge10.2+ 1hrSwing Bridge
Stonar Cut13.3+ 28 min(not navigable)
Pegwell Bay14.2+ 24 minPepperness River Mouth
Royal Harbour17+21 minRamsgate
Useful Links

River Level

Link to the current water levels for Grove Ferry

Harbour Cam

Link to the Ramsgate Harbour webcam

Sandwich Port

Link to Sandwich Port and Haven website

Dover Tide

Link to the Dover tide time table

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.