Ports become established in differering environments and there is no standard location or typical port. There are ports located on the coast or within an estuary and the required approach will vary on a case by case basis. The pilot boarding area is frequently a focus for converging traffic and caution needs to be exercised when manoeuvring to board pilots. Many pilot stations are close to river entrances and vessels may be subject to the effects of strong currents.
Navigable channels are the arteries of a port. They must have adequate depth and width for the maximum size of vessels that will use a port. The regular sounding of channels and the optimum placement of aids to navigation are among the primary responsibilities of ports.