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Ormos Ammoudi, Santorini, Greece
Santa Elena alongside Kriti Jade at Birzebbuga roadstead, Malta

A roadstead or road[a] is a body of water sheltered from rip currents, spring tides, or ocean swell where ships can lie reasonably safely at anchor without dragging or snatching.[3][4] It can be open or natural, usually estuary-based, or may be created artificially.[5] In maritime law, it is described as a "known general station for ships, notoriously used as such, and distinguished by the name".[6]


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.[3][b] 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.

Notable roadsteads[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Charts and nautical publications often use roads rather than roadsteads.[1] Roads is the earlier term.[2]
  2. ^ For example, in the Second World War, many merchant ships and many troops arriving at the UK were unloaded/disembarked from ships anchored at the Tail of the Bank in the upper Clyde estuary.[7]


  1. ^ Walker, George K. Definitions for the Law of the Sea: Terms Not Defined by the 1982 Convention. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2012.
  2. ^ Little, William; Fowler, H W; Coulson, Jesse; Onions, C T; Friedrichsen, G. W. S. (1983). The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Volume II) (3rd ed.). London: Book Club Associates. p. 1838.
  3. ^ a b United States Army technical manual, TM 5-360. Port Construction and Rehabilitation. Washington: United States. Government Printing Office, 1964.
  4. ^ Oxford Dictionaries: Definition of roadstead in English
  5. ^ Roadstead: Extensive Definition
  6. ^ Black's Law Dictionary: What is roadstead?
  7. ^ Robins, Nick (21 January 2014). "Clyde Anchorages Emergency Port". Scotland and the Sea: The Scottish Dimension in Maritime History. Seaforth Publishing. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-4738-3441-5.

External links[edit]