The Havelock Channel

As part of our focus on Havelock Marina over the past month, we have been getting to know the Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds – directly accessible from Havelock Marina. We asked the new Picton Harbour Master to dispel some common myths surrounding the navigation of the Havelock Channel:


Navigating the Havelock Channel requires some basic nautical skills and a bit of local knowledge. You’ll also need sufficient boat handling skill to steer a straight course against the strong tides and cross winds that feature in this area. The speed limit in the channel is 8 knots within 200m of the shore for all vessels

The main channel is flanked by shallow water and shifting sand banks so make sure you know which side to pass the channel markers on and stay in the channel at all times. Follow the curve of the land and the line of red markers between markers #11 and #13 to remain in deepest water at low tide. More information on this point is available here. Vessels with a draft over 1.0 meter should only navigate the channel on the top half of the tide.

As always, keep to starboard, keep a good lookout, maintain a safe speed and give way according to the rules. Be aware that large mussel boats frequenting the channel may be constrained by draft and unable to manoeuvre easily.

Make your fist transit of the channel in daylight with good weather, fair winds and slack tides. If you’re planning on transiting at night, familiarise with the channel lights and characteristics as shown here. Always display navigation lights when transiting the channel at night.

Safety message are displayed on the scrolling sign as you depart the Havelock Marina and Marlborough Marine Radio provides  good VHF coverage and safety support throughout the Pelorus Sound. Contact Marlborough Marine Radio for more information on their services.

Navigating the Havelock Channel shouldn’t be intimidating. If you follow the above recommendations you’ll be able to enjoy safe and easy access the remarkable Pelorus Sound.

havelock channel poster

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