Ramsgate Harbour Approach


51°19’.51N 01°25’.50E (harbour entrance)

The recommended track for small vessels is the south of the buoyed channel, there is a holding ground to the south of the southern breakwater should you need to wait before entering the harbour.

Port of Ramsgate approach map

For illustration only – please do not use this map for navigation.

The tide sets across the harbour entrance in a NE’ly / SW’ly direction with the north going tide running from about 2 Hrs hours to HW to 4 hours after HW.

Ramsgate has a dredged approach channel running E-W (least depth 7.5m), which is used by cross-Channel ferries, fast pilot boats, and other commercial craft. Small craft should use the Recommended Yacht Track that lies parallel to the S side of the channel. No craft should enter or leave the harbour without prior permission from Port Control (VHF Ch14).The N section of the Goodwin Sands lies only 4 miles from the harbour entrance and any passage past this area, heading E or W, must be undertaken with extreme caution, particularly on the flood tide, which sweeps SW onto the sands.Shallows lie S of the harbour entrance, the Quern Bank being closest, and the Cross Ledge further S. To the N, the shallows shelve gently with no uncharted hazards, but stand well off the North Foreland in strong E winds, because confused seas build up inshore.Ramsgate’s outer breakwaters are low lying, built of rocks and can be difficult to spot from the E. The N pier head has a green beacon (Q.G 5M); the S has a red beacon (VQ.R 5M). The tide sweeps across the entrance, roughly NE-SW, at up to 2kn.

Outer Approaches

From the North:

Follow the coast S from North Foreland keeping at least 0.5 miles offshore. There is a Small Craft Holding Area a short distance N of the No 3 buoy and a track S from there crosses the channel just W of No 3 buoy and No 4 buoy in order to join the E-W Recommended Yacht Track.Take great care crossing the approach channel and if in doubt, check with Port Control before doing so.

From the East:

In daylight, first sighting will be the chalk cliffs of the Foreland, N of the harbour. By night, the North Foreland light (W sector) should be identified. Approach the ‘RA’ buoy (Q(6)+LFl.15s) then join the Yacht Track on S side of channel. Keep a sharp lookout for commercial traffic.

From the Southeast:

Approach outside the Goodwins, keeping clear of the Goodwin Knoll, to arrive at the ‘RA’ buoy. Do not risk turning NW across the N end of the Knoll, especially when the flood tide is setting hard onto the bank. Every year, unwary skippers are caught out here.

From the south:

Either follow the Gull Stream NE from Deal Pier, turning N towards the No 4 buoy once past the Brake buoy. Alternatively stay close inshore through the Ramsgate Channel to W of the Brake and Cross Ledge banks.The inshore route requires extreme caution, especially close to the B2 buoy (Fl(2)G.5s), which is small and difficult to locate, and must be left well to starboard. Once past, continue in a wide arc W to pass well W of the West Quern buoy and arrive close S of the harbour entrance. This route is not advised at night.There is a small craft holding area immediately off the S breakwater.


Skippers are requested to call Ramsgate Port Control on Ch 14 and ask for permission to enter the harbour. Control lights are displayed (3 vertical greens, clear to enter; 3 vertical reds, no entry) at the root of the N breakwater. They can be difficult to identify against town lights at night. When a flashing orange light is displayed on the cream-painted Port Control building on the N breakwater, it means a ship is manoeuvring and you must not enter or leave harbour.On receiving permission to enter, follow the charted Recommended Yacht Track from the No 4 buoy. Pass close N of the North Quern buoy to clear the shallows and proceed under power through the outer entrance. If required to wait, use one of the charted holding areas.

Entrance to Ramsgate Marina

From the outer harbour, the marina lies to the N in the Royal Harbour behind high stone walls. Leave the green ‘Harbour’ buoy to starboard. Beware the drying bank on the starboard (E) side of the entrance and watch out for boats leaving. They may appear suddenly round the pier head.

Call Ramsgate Marina on Ch 80 to request a berth. There are actually three parts to the marina – West, East and Inner. The Inner is not normally available for visitors. The West Marina is immediately to P inside the Royal Harbour entrance. The East Marina lies N from the entrance and is entered between two lit dolphins at its W end. Beware the drying East Bank to starboard guarded by a buoy (Fl.G.5s), which is moored over it. You will normally be allocated a berth in the West Marina, which is dredged to about 2.5m.The Marina Office is a wooden building the lifting bridge into the Inner Harbour, and there is a secondary office at the top of the NW ramp out of the W Marina. Access to the pontoons and toilet buildings is protected by key codes issued on payment of berthing fees. There is a small unsecured toilet block on the W Marina pontoons. Remember to call Port Control on Ch 14 for permission before leaving.

Charts & Pilots

Imray 2100 series, C1, C8Admiralty SC5605, 5606; 323, 1827, 1828‘East Coast Pilot’ and ‘The Shell Channel Pilot’ (both published by Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson Ltd)
Tides: HW Dover +20 mins.

  • Ramsgate Port Control VHF Ch 14 (call sign ‘Ramsgate Port Control’)
  • Marina Berthing Office VHF Ch 80 (call sign ‘Ramsgate Marina’)
  • Port Control tel 01843 572112
  • Dockmasters tel 01843 572100 / 07919211143
  • Coastguard (Dover) tel 01304 210008

This guide is intended to help yachtsmen.  No responsibility can be accepted for errors or omissions.  Always consult an up-to-date chart.  Copyright: no text or images may be used from these pages without written permission from Thanet District Council 01843 572105 (words and photographs adapted from ‘East Coast Pilot’ by the co-author, Dick Holness). Chartlet – Crown copyright. Reproduced by permission of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and Imray Laurie Norie and Wilson Ltd 2011.