Hamble River Rowing

Hamble river rowing club has the safety of it’s members in the highest regard. The following guides have been created to help members make decisions while navigating the river Hamble. These are guides and do not replace seamanship and common sense. The guides can be downloaded in pdf format for printing and reading offline or read online below.

New Member Induction      -  Download pdf

Tides and when gigs float -  Download pdf

Hazards in the River         -  Download pdf

How to row youtube clip

Tides and when the Gigs float

Below you will find some hints on how to find and interpret the tides in the River Hamble which will enable you to work out when it is easy to get the Gigs off the mud/moorings and when you can re-moor them, and whether to bring wellies with you.  There are, also, hints on what the curves mean.  If it is all very obvious to you it may not be to others.

When can we go rowing?

We can, usually, go rowing from about 3.5 hours before Bursledon HW to about 4 hours after Bursledon HW.  This is when the tidal height is above 2.5m.  On the Rowing Diary tidal times are, generally, Bursledon HW or LW.  PLW or PHW refer to Portsmouth times, which are up to 30 minutes before Bursledon.

One needs the following tidal heights to reach certain points.  These heights can vary by as much as .3m depending on high or low pressure.  So the rise or fall happens at the expected time but the height may be different.  Higher with low pressure, lower with high pressure.

Botley Mill Pool                 4.1m

Botley Quay                       4.0m

Horse & Jockey                4.0m

The Fork at Fairthorne     3.5m

To moor and unmoor the boats one needs the following tidal heights.  For unmooring this assumes that one can pull them off just before they float even if the bow is on the mud.  For mooring it assumes that one can moor them and pull them back to their normal position.

      Unmoor  Moor

Downstream outer mooring           2.8m   3.1m

Downstream inner mooring           2.5m   2.8m

Upstream mooring                         2.8m   3.2m

The jetty at the Jolly - One can get onto the last, downstream, outer corner of the jetty when the tidal height is 2.0m.

Understanding Tidal Curves for the River

The tides change with the moon, on a roughly 2 week cycle.  Spring tides are when the tidal range will be highest, with the lowest low and the highest high.  Neap tides are when the tidal range is smallest.  The timings of high and low water progress to be later every day by about 40 minutes.

The highest tidal height we get in the River is about 5.0m and the lowest is about 0.3m.  The speed of the incoming/outgoing tide can be as much as 3 knots in parts of the River, more at the double green posts below Hamble Point Marina and in the narrow channel above Bursledon Bridge.  The ebb tide currents are faster than the flood tide currents.  As a Gig has a maximum speed of about 5 knots you can see why we choose not to row against a stiff tide if we can help it.

On the next page you will see two tidal curves shown to illustrate various points.

Thu 19 Feb


11:14 17:01 23:40

4.9 m 0.3 m 4.9 m

You will see, above, a curve for Bursledon on a Spring tide.  It doesn’t look like the normal sine wave you would expect because of the peculiar tides we get as water comes round both sides of the Isle of Wight.

Half way up the incoming tide you will see the Young tide stand, sometimes called the half tide stand.  So it comes in and then stops.  Unfortunately this stand is always at or below 2.5m and is why we sometimes have to wait on the pontoon for quite a long time, if we have come down during this stand.

You will see that there is little tide running from about 1030 to 1430.  This is the High tide stand that we like to row on.  You will also see that, on this day, the tide was coming in from about 0430 to 1100 (6.5 hours), standing until after 1400 and then all going out in 3 hours.  The jetty would have been dry from about 1530 to about 1900.  The morning young flood stand is at about 2.5m so we could have floated some Gigs at 0715 but, in the evening the young flood stand is at 2.3m so we would have had difficulty floating the Gigs before the stand was over at 2100.

On the next page you will see a curve for a Neap(ish) tide.  You will see that the Low water is much higher at 2.0m and the High water much lower at 3.9m.  The gradient of the curves is less steep which tells you that the tidal currents will not be as strong as at a Spring tide.

Sat 14 Feb


06:26 12:07 20:32

3.9 m 2.0 m 3.9 m

On the curve above you will see that the Young Flood stand is not as pronounced for Neap tides as for Springs.  We could, probably, float the white Gigs off in the middle of the Young flood stand at about 1500.  The High tide stand is, still, about 4 hours, but unusually the high at 20.32 is at the end of the High tide stand.  It is, normally, at the beginning.

Finding these Tidal Curves for yourself

You can access these curves for yourself on Easytide the UK Hydrographic Office website by clicking on http://www.ukho.gov.uk/easytide/EasyTide/SelectPrediction.aspx?PortID=0063B  This should take you to the Burseldon tides.  (If not choose Bursledon on the map that may be displaye).  It will show you, for free, the tidal curves for the next 7 days.

Click on ‘Predict’

On the right hand side there is a box with two items you can choose.  In BST change the ‘Daylight Saving’ option to +1.

Change the ‘Max. Graph size’ option from 7 days to 1 day

Scroll down through the graphs to the day you are interested in.

Read off the times when the Gigs will float and can be re-moored, and whether you will need wellies to push the boats off the mud.

Hazards in the River

The International Collision Regulations mean that boats ‘Drive on the Right’.  So other boat users will expect you to abide by this rule.  Passing port side to port side.  In addition the rule is that motoring vessels give way to sail.  Many other boat owners may be confused by this and will not know what to do when they see a boat rowed by 4 lusty oarsmen/oarswomen.  In particular they will not understand that:

Our boats can row at 4+ knots and can get across the fairway quickly

That our Gigs are 20 feet wide, with oars out, wider than any other boats on the river

That we are very sensitive to wash set up by fat, heavy boats going past at 6 knots

Club rules

No Club boat is to be rowed in the narrow channel between Bursledon bridge and the railway bridge without a competent cox.

No Club boat is to enter the narrow lanes between lines of boats moored on piles without an experienced cox and an experienced crew, able to toss oars in the event of a yacht coming in the opposite direction.

Club boats should, generally stay out of the fairway, especially at busy times – weekends when yachts go in and out and, above Bursledon Bridge Club boats must be very careful in the morning and on late Summer Sunday afternoons.

Tidal hazards

With tidal currents of up to 3 knots and a maximum boat speed of less than 5 knots it is easy to get swept into a moored boat or obstruction when the tide is running in or out.  In particular be aware of these hazards:-

When coming downstream from Bursledon bridge, with a strong ebbing tide, it is easy to get swept into the red post just above the Jolly Sailor - turn early.

At the end of the long trot on the Hamble side of the river as you approach Mercury it is easy to get swept onto the red post at the end of the trot or the three-legged red dolphin just downstream.

When turning across the fairway, at Hamble, to go to or from the Hamble Jetty, it is easy to get swept onto either the green or red post at the end of the Warsash or Hamble side trots.

Underwater hazards

There is a spit which stretches out from the end of Bursledon Point, the grassy point 400m below the Jolly Sailor.  At mid tide give it a wide berth.

One third the way down the Reach from Bursledon Point to Mercury there is a bank extending out from the marsh halfway to the trots of yachts.  At mid tide give this a wide berth.

When you have crossed the fairway to the Warsash side at Mercury there is a drying shoal extending a long way out from the wooden wreck, except at high tide do not go here.

Below the Chinese bridge (about 200m) there is a post about 20m out from the shore that is under water once the tidal height is about 3m.  If you hit this it will hole the boat.

If going down the Hamble side from Mercury there is a rocky shallow, which dries about 1.5m above LW, about 10m upstream of the red post.  Go inside or outside.

New Member Induction

The Basic guide to getting started at Hamble River Rowing Club

First of all a warm welcome to Hamble River Rowing Club.  The club is something that we are all proud of and you will soon have that HRRC members smile!  Being a member of HRRC is great for de-stressing, keeping fit, meeting new friends, enjoying the fresh air and learning something new.  If you have any questions about the club please ask another member or ask the committee (you can see our mugshots on the website if you’re not sure who we are!)

1. Saftey First! – Your safety is paramount. The following is guidance taken from British Rowing – ROWSAFE

Health difficulties

One of the first steps you must take is to disclose any relevant health problems. Rowing clubs are not qualified to give you medical advice, so you should raise any concerns with your doctor. However, clubs are often able to make provisions for health difficulties, allowing you to take part safely.

Swimming competence

You must be sure that you can achieve at least 50 yards of swimming. If for any reason you are unable to meet the requirements then a buoyancy aid or lifejacket must be worn.

Log books

It is a good idea to record your progress.  Keeping a log of your own experience, training and knowledge of your club is an excellent way to stay safer in the sport and can also serve as a reminder of what you should know and do.

New to the water?

Sign up to the Basic Courses at HRRC

Basic guide to Rules of the Road

Basic Knots

Things to bear in mind:

Please mind your fingers when you are coming alongside as they can get trapped between the gunwale and the pontoon or other gigs.  It is a good idea to take a ‘dry bag’ with you when you go rowing to put your valuables in (wallets, phones, keys).  It can get wet inside the boat through splashing or rain and a dry bag will keep everything, well….dry!  These are usually available from outdoor shops and chandleries.

The cox is in command of the boat and they will issue instructions for rowing and ensure that you do not collide with any obstacles or other boats.  It’s important that you obey their commands.  If you feel faint or ill please inform the cox who can stop the boat.

If you fall overboard or in the rare event of a capsize do not panic.  Stay with the gig and tread water.  When you have hold of the gig make sure that all your fellow crew members are present then to make your way with the crew holding onto the boat to the nearest landing and get out of the water as quickly as you can. Summon help.

If you see a vessel approaching the stern at speed and you think the cox is not aware it is very important that you tell the cox.

Please do not answer your mobile when you are rowing.  You will be able to use it when you return to shore.  If you have any questions about any of the information above please speak to a committee member.

First Aid – You may want to bring items such as plasters in the case of blisters and any other medical requirements that you may need.  You row at your own risk.

In the case of an emergency dial 999

and ask for:


2. What to wear


Shorts, T-shirt, Warmer top layer, Flip Flops/Plimsols, Sunglasses, Sun Hat.


Vest, T-Shirt, Warm top layer, Trousers, Trainers, Woolly Hat.

Most people wear gloves as you can get blisters after a good session of rowing.  Ideal gloves for rowing are sailing gloves (available from chandleries), gardening gloves or other training gloves with a grip.

Before you leave the house have a look at the weather and if necessary bring your waterproofs (trousers and coat).  If you are going somewhere muddy or where you might have to wade into the water you might want to bring your wellies.  If it is really sunny you may need suncream.  You should always take a bottle of water with you to rehydrate whatever the weather.  You can have a pint at the pub when you get back!

HRRC Club Crew Wear – there is a range of clothing with the Hamble River Rowing brand available on the club website www.hambleriverrowing.com.

3. The Cavern - Equipment

Most of the club’s equipment is stored in the Cavern at the Jolly Sailor pub.  You will be given the code to the cavern when you pay your membership at the start of the year.  When you close the padlock you need to make sure that the correct code is still in place then when you have replaced the lock scramble the numbers.

The code is on your membership card

Packing up - When you have finished rowing for the day and you are the last to put equipment away, please securely close and lock the Cavern.  Before you do so, cast an eye around the jetty and the tent to make sure that all the equipment has been collected.  If in doubt it is better to lock the Cavern.  Others can easily open it again should they need to.  It is your responsibility to make sure the equipment is secure.

Equipment - As a club we are lucky to own and share a large amount of expensive equipment.  Please look after it as if it was your own property – as member it is yours.  The club runs a number of maintenance day throughout the year (mainly in winter).  As a member you signed an agreement to help maintain the club’s equipment so please make sure you sign up for your share of maintenance.  If you think you won’t know what to do, don’t worry.  There are lots of basic tasks to be carried out including cleaning and it is an opportunity to learn new boat maintenance skills.

Repairs – If you break something or notice that something is damaged or not functioning correctly please note it in the maintenance log (found inside the Cavern) noting which gig it is or which piece of equipment it is.  If damage goes unnoticed then it increases the time which that piece of equipment will be available.

4. Basic Rowing Commands

When you are learning to row the crew will probably be set up as shown left although it is possible to row the gigs with one, two, three, four or five crew.  When you are learning the boat will be coxed by an experienced club member.  The following commands will be issued by the cox.  It is important that you listen to them.

Backstops – Bring your oar out of the water and the handle of the oar close to your body ready to row as shown left.

Row – What is says – start rowing.  Follow the rhythm of the STROKE

Bowside – Means those with their oars on the same side as the BOW rower are being instructed.

Strokeside – Those with their oars on the same side as stroke are being instructed.

Dig in – means to put your oar in the water with the blade at 90 degrees to the water.  You should hold it still in this position.

Lift Your Oars – Lift your oars with the gates (rowlocks) still attached and place the handle of the oar between your feet with the blade vertically above you.

Hold Water – The same as dig in but commanded to all.  It’s a form of emergency stop.

If you are new to the River Hamble or boating in general you will need to sign up for the Rules of the River – Basic Boat Handling Course and the Know your Knots - Basic Course.