Guide to King’s Lynn Visitor Pontoons

Please consult the guidance and instructions below before using the King’s Lynn Visitor Pontoons booking enquiry page.

The historic Ports of Boston and King’s Lynn, along with the more modern jetties at Port Sutton Bridge are all busy commercial ports with a range of ships arriving and sailing from all over Western Europe, the Baltic, Mediterranean and West Africa. Modern fishing fleets are based in Kings Lynn & Boston with large shellfish processing plants at King’s Lynn. Recent developments with off-shore windfarms stretching from Skegness to Sheringham make use of the abundance of wind in this area and during the construction and maintenance of these sites, numerous support craft are likely to be encountered, often transiting at high speed.

The MOD maintains an active firing range at Holbeach and low-flying aircraft can arrive very suddenly day or night, and flares, smoke and explosions may also be noticed.

The one common feature of the Ports on the Wash is that when the tide is out, access is very restricted, with frequently shifting shoals, often within the channels, and the sandbanks are very hard and high. The tidal flows in the often man-made channels can be up to 6 knots on spring tides, but all the main channels are well surveyed and buoyed, and are suitable for navigation day & night for any craft. However, navigating outside of the buoyed channels cannot be advised for any leisure craft.

The Port of King’s Lynn offers visitors direct access to short-term mooring pontoons with no bridges or locks to negotiate.

King’s Lynn Conservancy Board maintains an informative website:

That site has a wide range of information for visiting craft. Downloadable chart extracts can be viewed which show the most recent navigable channel with all the navigation aids detailed and if you wish to plot the buoys into your chart plotter all the current positions are listed. Please always check the Conservancy Board website just prior to arriving to ensure that you have the latest positions. The website also has all the latest notices to mariners, tidal data and detailed survey charts for the River from West Bank beacon to Boal Quay.

The approach channel to King’s Lynn has moved to the Daseley’s Sled – you must check the latest Channel Chart and local Notice to Mariners

Approaching King’s Lynn visiting craft are advised to head midway between the Sunk Light Buoy and Seal Sand Lightbuoy then towards the No.1 Lightbuoy at 52° 56’N 000°21.5’E and onwards into the Daseley’s Sled. It is not recommended to proceed up to King’s Lynn earlier than 3½ hours before high water and only then if the tide reading is more than 1 metre greater than the vessel’s draft. There are no other surveyed or buoyed routes to King’s Lynn. Any routes across the sand banks should not be attempted without good and current local knowledge with suitable electronic position fixing equipment and only then in a sturdy well founded boat with protected propellers and with a hull capable of drying out.

Commercial shipping could arrive into the anchorage at any time to wait for a suitable tide and will normally meet the fast pilot boat approx 2 hours before high water at the No.1 Light Buoy, they may have to alter course to provide a lee, so all leisure craft should proceed with caution when commercial shipping is under way and note that Rule 9 of the Colregs is relevant as ships will be confined to the best of the available water. Refer to Local Notices to Mariners 3/2016. Out-bound vessels will normally be clear of the Daseley’s Sled by 1 hour after high water. All shipping communications are carried out on VHF 14 and clarification of shipping activities can be sought from “Lynn Pilots” when operational.

To / From the Wash

From seaward the large white grain silo and the 2 tall power cable pylons indicate King’s Lynn with the spire of St Nicholas Chapel providing a very historic landmark. As you approach the river mouth it starts to get confined by stone banks to the west and marshes to the east. The northern end of the stone bank is marked by beacons commencing with West Stones (Q W). At No. 26 buoy the channel turns directly to Kings Lynn and becomes confined with the current increasing.

It is about 3 ½ miles from here to abeam of the commercial Docks, and good attention should be given to VHF Ch. 14 for any information broadcast by “Lynn Docks” or other craft especially in the period 1½ hours before high-water to just after high-water.

Fishing vessels are likely to be encountered throughout the area, and may enter or leave the channel anywhere north of No.26 buoys, but leisure craft should not be tempted to follow them as they may be heading for an area to run aground and dry out.

The West Bank beacon and tide gauge is an inward reporting position, and apart from the Lower Cut Lt. (Q R) there are no other navigational aids until the lights of the ferry jetties. The electricity pylons indicate approx 0.8 miles to the commercial docks and with the waste treatment plant on the west bank and the chemical plants on the east banks there is normally sufficient light to see the river banks at night. It is recommended that a call to “Lynn Docks” as you pass the chemical plants is made to advise them of your position and they will, if manned, tell you about shipping movements.

Commercial shipping can be encountered on either side of the channel in the Cut depending on the shoals and vessels exiting or entering the Docks do so at 90° to the channel and will often be completely blocking the channel until they have swung, so early contact with the Docks will enable you to take the necessary action to avoid passing the docks when shipping is manoeuvring. A flashing orange light exhibited from the docks flagstaff indicates vessels exiting the docks.

Just north of the Docks is the Fisher Fleet, which is the base to many of the commercial fishing vessels. Leisure craft should not attempt to enter this fleet, and there are no moorings available.

After passing the docks the town of King’s Lynn is evident on the East bank and the Council operated visitor pontoons lie about ½ mile ahead. A small passenger ferry runs Mon – Sat between West Lynn jetty and Kings Lynn, please reduce your wash when passing. Small harbour craft moorings lie on the west side just upstream of the ferry jetty and 2 large steel mooring buoys for larger harbour craft are found mid-stream off the Purfleet. Once clear of these, you can shape up for the pontoons.

To / From Inland Waterways

Vessels wishing to continue upriver to Denver or Salter’s Lode and entering the inland rivers systems should have an agreed arrival time with the appropriate Lock keeper, and time your departure accordingly. Apart from the 3 moorings buoys available for G.O.B.A. users just before the 1st bridge, there are no facilities on the river upstream of King’s Lynn. Due to the low bridges and often featureless riverbanks nobody should attempt navigation during darkness.

Please refer to King’s Lynn Conservancy Board tide height charts for bridge clearance.

Visit our Safety Notes for Visitors page for more information about safety and care when arriving at the King’s Lynn Visitor Pontoons.

Make a Booking Enquiry

Visitors skippers are asked to book their berth 24hrs prior to expected arrival.

Visit the Visitor Pontoons Booking Enquiry page, maintained by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.

Related Pages