Navigation on the Waveney is relatively trouble free with good depths especially in middle channel.
There are no channel markers but there may be shallower water towards the river banks. The river is tidal but flows and ranges are less severe between Oulton Dyke and Geldeston, please see tide tables.
There are three fixed bridges. Users must ensure that bridge heights are checked before navigating. Somerleyton Swing Bridge will open on request although there may be delays while trains clear the area.
Burgh Castle Reach There is good depth in the main channel with shallow areas near the banks especially inside the bends. Tidal flow can be strong.
Waveney Forest Reach - Good depth in the main channel with shallow areas near to the banks. Speed limit of 5mph through St Olaves where there are many moored boats and dykes. Tide at St Olaves Bridge can be very strong.
St Olaves Reach - Tides can be very strong at St Olaves Bridge which has clearance of 8ft at high tide. There are numerous moorings and private dykes up river and at the end of these Haddiscoe new cut joins the main river. Care must be taken as vessels may be joining the main river from the new cut or dykes. An old bridge pier stands in the middle of the river at Haddiscoe. Vessels should pass to the right of the pier.
Somerleyton Reach - Somerleyton Swing Bridge will open for vessels unable to pass under. Openings can be requested on VHF Ch12 or by giving 3 long blasts by horn when in sight of the bridge. Somerleyton bridge will swing on demand when there is one red flag flying from the control box. If two red flags are flying the bridge is inoperable. There may sometimes be a delay of up to 20 minutes to allow a train to pass. There are moorings or pontoons either side for those waiting for the bridge to open. There is a water ski zone from near Somerleyton Bridge to Oulton Dyke. All craft should exercise caution and be prepared for wash from ski boats.
Oulton Dyke and Oulton Broad Reach - Oulton Dyke has a 5mph speed limit and much of it is piled with timber piles. Two short dykes leading off Oulton Dyke are shallow with risk of grounding at low tide. Visitors should navigate along the north bank between the mooring buoys and shore when yachts are racing. Navigation is restricted during powerboat race meetings on Thursday evenings and some weekends during summer. Extreme caution must be used during powerboat events and patrol boats will give instructions to visiting craft.
Burgh St Peter Reach - There are areas of timber and steel piling and old fishing platforms in the reeds on the Suffolk bank. The inside of some bends can be fairly shallow.
Worlingham Reach - Some areas of bank are reinforced with matting and should be avoided by powered craft.
Aldeby Reach - The centre pier of an old rail bridge stands in the middle of the river at Stanley Carr. Vessels should pass the pier to the right side of the river. Some areas of bank are reinforced with matting and should be avoided by powered craft.
Beccles Reach - A 4mph speed limit is in force from before the sailing club through Beccles. Caution must be taken as the river is narrow with moorings and moving boats. There is dinghy racing at the sailing club most weekends. Rescue boats will usually assist and advise those passing through racing fleets. The new bridge at Beccles has 12ft clearance at high tide. There are moorings just before the bridge that are strictly reserved for de-masting and vessels unable to pass under. Between the bridges is Beccles Yacht Station (Waveney District Council) where moorings and facilities are available. The old bridge has limited clearance and is narrow. Mooring for those waiting to pass under the old bridge are at the yacht station and Beccles Lido. From May to September, water plants are common in the river at Beccles and there is typically a 3 metre margin left uncut on both sides of the channel. From the end of the bank-side moorings the river meanders through tree lined banks. Some areas of bank are reinforced with matting and should be avoided.
Geldeston Reach - From Barsham to Geldeston is mainly tree-lined and narrow with reasonable depths although water plant growth can be heavy between May and September. Typically a 3 metre margin is left uncut on both sides. Motor craft should avoid the banks as some areas are reinforced with matting. There are overhead wires (12m) as you approach Geldeston. Yachts with masts should consider whether they have enough air draft to proceed without lowering the mast. There is a 3mph speed limit from Geldeston wherry dyke to Geldeston footbridge.