A roadstead (or ''roads'' – the earlier form) is a body of water sheltered from rip currents, spring tides, or ocean swell where
ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep waterways, carrying cargo or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research, and fishing. Ships are generally distinguished ...
s can lie reasonably safely at
anchor An anchor is a device, normally made of metal , used to secure a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. The word derives from Latin ''ancora'', which itself comes from the Greek � ...
without dragging or snatching.United States Army technical manual, TM 5-360.
Port Construction and Rehabilitation
'. Washington: United States. Government Printing Office, 1964.
It can be open or natural, usually
estuary An estuary is a partially enclosed coastal body of brackish water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and maritime environm ...
-based, or may be created artificially. In maritime law, it is described as a "known general station for ships, notoriously used as such, and distinguished by the name".Black's Law Dictionary: What is ''roadstead''?


A roadstead can be an area of safe anchorage for ships waiting to enter a port, or to form a convoy. If sufficiently sheltered and convenient, it can be used for the transshipment of goods, stores, and troops, either separately or in combination. The same applies in transfers to and from shore by
lighters A lighter is a portable device which creates a flame, and can be used to ignite a variety of items, such as cigarettes, gas lighter, fireworks, candles or campfires. It consists of a metal or plastic container filled with a flammable liquid or c ...
. In the days of sailing ships, some voyages could only easily be made with a change in wind direction, and ships would wait for a change of wind in a safe anchorage, such as the Downs or
Yarmouth Roads Yarmouth Roads is a coastal feature in Norfolk, England that was used by merchant and naval ships as an anchorage or roadstead off Great Yarmouth. Description The following is a description of Yarmouth Roads that appeared in The Nautical Magaz ...

Notable roadsteads

* Basque Roads, France * Roadstead of Brest, France * Carrick Roads, England *
Castle Roads Castle Roads is the primary channel by which vessels enter Castle Harbour, Bermuda, from the Atlantic Ocean. Although little used, today, except by pleasure boats, Castle Harbour was once an important anchorage, and an access route used by ships ...
, Bermuda * Cherbourg Harbour (''la Grande Rade''), France (artificial) * The Downs, England *
Fayal Roads Faial Island (), also known in English as Fayal, is a Portuguese island of the Central Group (Portuguese: ''Grupo Central'') of the Azores. The Capelinhos Volcano, the westernmost point of the island, may be considered the westernmost point of ...
, Azores, Portugal ( Battle of Fayal) *
Gage Roads Gage Roads is an area in the outer harbour area of Fremantle Harbour in the Indian Ocean offshore from Fremantle, Western Australia. It incorporates a deep water sea channel as part of its function. Gage Roads serves as a shipping lane an ...
, Western Australia *
Hampton Roads Hampton Roads is the name of both a body of water in the United States that serves as a wide channel for the James, Nansemond and Elizabeth rivers between Old Point Comfort and Sewell's Point where the Chesapeake Bay flows into the Atlantic ...
, Virginia, US *
Kossol Roads Kossol Roads is a large body of reef-enclosed water north of Babeldaob in northern Palau at .Kossol Roads
a ...
, Micronesia *
Lahaina Roads Lahaina Roads, also called the Lahaina Roadstead, is an anchorage in the ʻAuʻau Channel lying off the town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in the Hawaiian archipelago and U.S. state of Hawaii. It lies in the lee of the West Maui Mountains ...
, Hawaii, US * Lingga Roads, near Singapore * The Nore, England *
Puget Sound Puget Sound ( ) is a sound of the Pacific Northwest, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, and part of the Salish Sea. It is located along the northwestern coast of the U.S. state of Washington. It is a complex estuarine system of interconnected m ...
, Washington, US * Royal Roads, Canada * Scapa Flow, Scotland * Schillig Roads, Germany * Spithead, England *
Tail of the Bank The Tail of the Bank is the name given to the anchorage in the upper Firth of Clyde immediately North of Greenock, between Inverclyde and Argyll and Bute. This area of the Firth gets its name from the deep water immediately to the west of th ...
, Scotland (Clyde estuary) * Roadstead of Tallinn, Estonia * Tiefwasserreede, Germany *
Toulon Roads The military port of Toulon (french: arsenal de Toulon) is the principal base of the French Navy and the largest naval base in the Mediterranean, sited in the city of Toulon. It holds most of France's force d'action navale, comprising the airc ...
, France * Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands *
Rede van Texel The Rede van Texel, formerly Reede van Texel, was a roadstead off the Dutch island of Texel. It was of considerable importance to Dutch long-distance shipping between roughly 1500 and 1800.Roosevelt Roads Naval Station Roosevelt Roads Naval Station is a former United States Navy base in the town of Ceiba, Puerto Rico. The site operates today as José Aponte de la Torre Airport, a public use airport. History In 1919, future US President Franklin D. Roose ...
, Ceiba, Puerto Rico

See also

* Anchorage



External links

Harbor Types of the World's Large Sized Ports
, ''Hofstra University site''
Ports and Ocean Distances
''searoutes.com'' File:Singapore from above.jpg, Singapore roadstead File:MarseillesRade.jpg, Marseille Rade File:Dutch ships in the roadstead of Texel (the 'Gouden Leeuw' of Cornelis Tromp in the center)(Ludolf Backhuysen, 1671).jpg, Dutch ships in the roadstead of Texel, 1671 File:Roadstead of Villefranche-sur-mer.jpg, Roadstead of Villefranche-sur-mer File:Greek bunker vessel AGIA ZONI III at Piraeus roadstead funnel-mast 27 Jan 2007.jpg, Greek bunker vessel AGIA ZONI III at Piraeus roadstead File:Volvo Ocean Race 2012 in Lorient - Groupama 4 in the roadstead of Lorient.JPG, Volvo Ocean Race 2012 in the roadstead of Lorient File:HMS Harald Hårfagre or HMS Tordenskiold at the roadstead of Trondhjem (1906).jpg, HNoMS ''Harald Hårfagre'' or ''Tordenskiold'' at the roadstead of Trondheim, 1906 File:Jack Spurling - Golden Fleece lying at anchor in the roadstead.jpg, ''Golden Fleece'' lying at anchor in the roadstead (painting by
Jack Spurling John Robert Charles Spurling (1870 – 1933) was an English painter noted for nautical themes, particularly sailing ships of the 19th and 20th centuries. History Spurling was born on 12 December 1870. He was the son of an importer and grew up ne ...
, 1929)
{{Wiktionary, roadstead Water transport Coastal and oceanic landforms Nautical terminology