Caring for the Creek

Charity Commission No. 287315

Using the harbour

What you need to know


Be aware that the Harbour has many dangers. By coming on to the Hard and/or the Creek area you acknowledge and agree to the following:

  • The Hard is not a car park and may flood at high tide
  • You come to the Hard and the Creek at your own risk and you are responsible for your own safety and the safety of your family and friends
  • The ebb flow (outgoing tide) can be very dangerous
  • Do not cross the Creek unless you know the state of the tide and the time of high tide, and are sure you can get back
  • All boats must be licensed and insured to use the Harbour. They must be driven safely, following the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (IRPCS). All users are expected to be treat each other with Mutual Respect to ensure we can all enjoy the harbour safely.
  • The use of Jet Skis or Waterskiing is not permitted
  • Camping or caravans are not allowed on the Hard. No overnight parking.
  • Please do not leave litter, and clean up after your dog.

More guidance is displayed at the entrance to the Hard and below for specific user groups. If in doubt, ask. 

Navigation Update

The local aids to navigation at Burnham Overy Staithe, under the management of Burnham Overy Harbour Trust, are inspected annually by an Officer of Trinity House.


Burnham Overy Boathouse (which is entirely independent of the Harbour Trust) operates two webcams overlooking the Staithe.

Further Information for Harbour Users

Users should: 

  1. Be aware of the prevailing conditions and dress accordingly. 
  2. Be aware of the tidal state and range
  3. Understand the dangers of stranding on the wrong side of the creek with an incoming tide.
  4. Know what to do in the event of a problem to self help
  5. Know where the evacuation points are if they require rescue (most of the harbour is inaccessible by boat more than 2 hours before or after high water). 

Planning / Risk Assessment

You should take equipment with you so you can cope if you become stranded. A basic shelter, food and drinks clothes. Should be contained in a waterproof bag.

You are visiting a wild area. You need to be prepared with suitable equipment for the duration of your planned activity.

Appropriate Clothing: Depending on the duration of your visit and the prevailing conditions. Waterproofs, wind proofs and a suitable layering system are a must; you can always take layers off.

Weather Conditions: Wind Chill Table.

Tide times

Tides at Overy do not follow the rule of 12ths (comes in for 6 hours, goes out for 6 hours) The tide floods (comes in) for 3-4 hours and ebbs (goes out) for 8-9 hours. The creek is only navigable for 4-5 hours every tide.

Swimmers: Should be easily identifiable by wearing floats and brightly covered hats. Where to swim: Swimmers should keep clear of the middle of the deep-water channels when boats are present. On the flood and ebb tide the harbour mouth should be avoided.

In the event of an Emergency: Self-help. Get to safe place. Can you wait on high ground until the tide turns. Do you need actual help or can you wait. The ferry can be contacted on:

Emergency Evacuation: For life threatening emergencies at any tide state will be slow. Any lifeboat or coastguard rescue is likely to take 30 minutes + before they arrive. Ambulances are likely to take an hour + if you are on the beach. You need to have a back up plan to cope for at least these time frames.

Loading – Most Boats have loading plates. These should not be exceeded. 

As a guide Assume Adults weigh 80-90kg

4m (13ft) 4 Adults MAX 320kg, 5m (16ft)  5 People 450kg MAX

Children carried also need to be factored into these calculations. A 4m boat with 2 adults and 3 teenage children is probably overloaded!

Thought should also be given to boat balance (left and right) and trim (front to back). 3 children at the front of a 4m boat will cause it to nosedive when the power comes off. Legs and arms should be kept in the boat to reduce the risk of Prop Rash.

Look Out – All boats shall keep an adequate look out at all times.

Dinghies and Canoes: Boats should be in a good state of repair and with all of the controls working. Buoyancy should be effective and a bailer (bucket etc) should be carried. An anchor or back up form of propulsion is also useful.

Buoyancy – all users should wear a minimum of EN393 buoyancy aid whilst afloat. This is a standard 50N buoyancy aid which will keep users afloat in calm conditions. A life jacket has more buoyancy 150N+ and guarantees to turn a user on to their back in all conditions. 

International Rules for the prevention of collisions at sea (IRPCS) applies

Boat Licences

All craft (boats, paddle boards, kayaks, inflatables) must be licensed to use the Harbour. A licence allows the boat to be launched and used in the Harbour, but does not include a right to park or moor the boat.

It is a requirement that you have third party insurance before you launch.

The current Annual Fees for all moored or launched craft including sail and paddleboards are:

1 Day Visitor: £5

Annual Fees

Overall Length up to 8ft (2.4m): £15.00

Overall Length 8ft – 20ft (2.4 – 6m):  £30.00

Overall Length over 20ft:(6m+) £50.00

Licences, membership and donations are accessible through the Licence Application tab at the top of the page. All users will need to set up an account to capture the required data. Subsequent renewals will only involve confirming data is correct and making payment.  


The Trust having been granted a lease of the bed of the creek by the Holkham Estate aims to ensure that those who use moorings can continue to do so safely, and that the fairway is kept clear so boats can make passage without danger to others. Any moorings found to have been laid without consent may be removed.

There are no moorings currently vacant and there is no waiting list.




Further Information for Specific Groups


Responsibility- All Harbour users are responsible for their own actions.

Loading – Boats have loading plates. These should not be exceeded. Balance left to right and Trim for and aft need to managed so the boat is level when in use. Excessive weight at either end risks swamping.

Boat Nosediving – poor trim.

Kill cord – should be worn around upper leg when engine is running and be in a good state of repair. 

RYA Kill Cord Video

Speed limit – 8 Knots. Exemptions apply for boats undertaking Safety/Rescue.

Look out – All boats shall keep an adequate look out at all times

buoyancy – all users should wear a minimum of EN393 buoyancy aid whilst afloat.

International Rules for the prevention of collisions at sea (IRPCS) applies


Location – swimming should take place out of the fairway if boats are present as the accident risk is too great.  The area between bank hole and the mud dock should be avoided 20 minutes either side of a race start due to manoeuvring boats. This will be denoted by a flag flying from the starting post.

Moored boats – Keep away from moored boats due to the risk of entanglement. 

Marking – all swimmers should wear bright hats or towed markers to make other harbour users aware of their presence.

International Rules for the prevention of collisions at sea (IRPCS) applies to all. Everyone has a duty to keep a good look out and avoid a collision including the swimmers. 

Burnham Overy swimming animation


Buoyancy – all users should wear a minimum of EN393 buoyancy aid whilst afloat.

Attachment – users should be attached to the board using the leash attached to the waist. 

Location – paddleboarders should keep out of busy fairways where boats of restricted manoeuvrability are operating for the safety of all.

They should be aware of the risks of entrapment entanglement near moored boats.

visibility – Paddlers should wear items of bright clothing so they can be seen. 

International Rules for the prevention of collisions at sea (IRPCS) applies. Everyone has a duty to keep a good look out and avoid a collision.

Burnham Overy paddling animation


Burnham Overy Harbour is a lovely place to walk. However, as it is a tidal estuary, users need to be aware that the available safe spaces change throughout the day. If you visit the island you can use the ferry at high tide or walk via the sand at low tide. Crossing the marshes is only recommended for experienced harbour users who have a good knowledge of the tides and how to escape from mud! If the tide starts to come in when you are on the wrong side of the channel, you should head for high ground and wait for the tide to recede. This does not constitute an emergency! Just poor planning. High ground can be found as annotated on the map below. Wait for the tide to recede and ensure you check the tides carefully next time.