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River Yealm

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Overview





The Yealm River is entered from the northeast corner of Wembury Bay, a large coastal bight situated close east of Plymouth Sound. The river and its tributary creeks offer a range of mooring, anchoring and drying out opportunities in a beautiful natural setting.

Complete protection may be had from all conditions in the River Yealm and especially so the further a vessel proceeds upriver. Access is straightforward as, although there are outlying dangers and a sandbar to be negotiated, most all dangers are marked by transits and buoys so they may be easily circumvented. Deeper draft vessels may be constrained at the entrance at low water and newcomers should only enter in daylight. The river should not be attempted in any strong westerly or south-westerly conditions, especially so on the ebb.



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Keyfacts for River Yealm
Facilities
Top up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from SSW, SW, WSW, W and WNW.Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periods

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
2.5 metres (8.2 feet).

Approaches
4 stars: Straightforward; when unaffected by weather from difficult quadrants or tidal consideration, no overly complex dangers.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
February 6th 2019

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with straightforward access.

Facilities
Top up fuel available in the area via jerry cansShop with basic provisions availableSlipway availableHot food available in the localityPublic house or wine bar in the areaMarked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationCashpoint or bank available in the areaPost Office in the areaInternet café in the areaPharmacy in the areaBus service available in the area


Nature
Marina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementJetty or a structure to assist landingQuick and easy access from open waterSailing Club baseScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Dangerous to enter when it is Beaufort force 5 or more from SSW, SW, WSW, W and WNW.Restriction: may be subject to a sand barNote: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periods



Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 18.609' N, 004° 3.261' W

This is the position of the Yealm Pool mooings.

What is the initial fix?

The following Wembury Bay will set up a final approach:
50° 18.025' N, 004° 5.246' W
This is the first bearing of 010° of St. Werburgh's Church that leads into Wembury Bay clear of the Slimers Rocks, on the western side, and Ebb Rocks off Gara Point on the eastern side. It is also on the line of bearing of S. Macra's Church Tower in line with the Plymouth's West Breakwater Light as best seen on a chart, that passes a ¼ of a mile southwest of both Ebb Rocks.


What are the key points of the approach?

  • Area approaches are available in the Coastal Overview for Start Point to Lizard Point Route location.

  • The River Yealm is entered from the northeast corner of Wembury Bay in a succession of four quick steps:
    • Enter Wembury Bay on a line of bearing of 010°T of St. Werburgh's Church to clear its fringing dangers.

    • Enter the river mouth clear of Mouthstone Ledge on a line of bearing of 088°T of a set of transits close north of Cellar Bay.

    • Pass south of the end of the entrance's sandbar that is marked by two lit port buoys.

    • Continue past the shallows off Misery Point on a set of inner alignment marks bearing of 047°T.

  • Above Misery Point the river continues as normal with midstream offering the best water.
  • Pass the port red Spit buoy, southeast of Warren Point and on the north side of the Pool, on its correct southern side.

  • Berth, as prefered in the various designated visitor locations a short distance upriver or dry out in Newton Ferrers if space can be found.


Not what you need?
Click the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons to progress through neighbouring havens in a coastal 'clockwise' or 'anti-clockwise' sequence. Below are the ten nearest havens to River Yealm for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. River Erme - 2.4 miles E
  2. Plymouth Harbour - 2.8 miles NW
  3. River Tamar & Tributaries - 3.3 miles WNW
  4. River Avon - 4.5 miles ESE
  5. Hope Cove - 5.2 miles ESE
  6. Kingsbridge - 6.7 miles E
  7. Salcombe - 7.3 miles ESE
  8. Starehole Bay - 7.3 miles ESE
  9. Looe Harbour - 9.5 miles W
  10. Hallsands - 9.9 miles ESE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. River Erme - 2.4 miles E
  2. Plymouth Harbour - 2.8 miles NW
  3. River Tamar & Tributaries - 3.3 miles WNW
  4. River Avon - 4.5 miles ESE
  5. Hope Cove - 5.2 miles ESE
  6. Kingsbridge - 6.7 miles E
  7. Salcombe - 7.3 miles ESE
  8. Starehole Bay - 7.3 miles ESE
  9. Looe Harbour - 9.5 miles W
  10. Hallsands - 9.9 miles ESE
To find locations with the specific attributes you need try:

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Chart
Please use our integrated Navionics chart to appraise the haven and its approaches. Navionics charts feature in premier plotters from B&G, Raymarine, Magellan and are also available on tablets. Open the chart in a larger viewing area by clicking the expand to 'new tab' or the 'full screen' option.

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How to get in?
River Yealm
Image: Michael Harpur


The River Yealm commences south of Dartmoor and travels 19 km (12 miles) to the sea, passing through Cornwood, Lee Mill and Yealmpton before reaching its estuary in the northeast corner of Wembury Bay. Here it forms a deep inlet, or ria, that forms the waterfront to Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo on its eastern side. It is to the largest part unspoilt and forested to the water's edge making for a beautiful location that is a perfect yachting centre.

Being so attractive and close to Plymouth the river often gets overrun during fine sailing season weather and at holiday weekends when it is best avoided. The harbourmaster will never turn away a vessel seeking shelter from inclement weather.

The River Yealm is entered from the northeast corner of Wembury Bay in a succession of four quick steps that can be summarised as follows:

  • 1. Entering Wembury Bay. Pass into Wembury Bay on a line of bearing of 010°T of St. Werburgh's Church, sited above Wembury, to clear the outlying dangers of the Slimers and Ebb Rocks on either side of the bay.

  • 2. Enter the River Yealm clear of Mouthstone Ledge. Mouthstone Ledge is a dangerous ledge that extends from Mouthstone Point the inner point of Yealm Head. A safe path is marked by a pair of transits sent into the inlet on a line of bearing of 088°T.

  • 3. Pass south of the sandbar. A drying bar extends southward from the steep Season Point on the north shore with its southern end marked by two lit port markers.

  • 4. Continue past the shallows off Misery Point. Steer towards a pair of red/white inner alignment marks on a bearing of 047°T through the shallowest part of the river with depths of as little as 1 metre during springs.

Once past Misery Point, the river deepens and the Yealm berthing opportunities present themselves.

Although the sandbar has lit buoys, all of the other marks require daylight. This and a large number of residential boats and moorings in the river make it inadvisable for a newcomer to make a night approach.

For berthing enquiries contact the harbour master by phone, P: +44 1752 872533, as no VHF listening watch is maintained.


Convergance Point Use the Coastal Overview for Start Point to Lizard Point Route location for general approaches to Wembury Bay.

St. Werburgh's Church overlooking Wembury Bay and Great Mew Stone
Image: Michael Harpur



Initial fix location The initial fix sets up the first step of the approach sequence. It is on a line of bearing of 010°T of St. Werburgh's Church sited above Wembury. It is also on the line of bearing of S. Macra's Church Tower in line with the Plymouth's West Breakwater Light, best seen on a chart, that passed a ¼ of a mile southwest of both of the Ebb Rocks. From here the four steps required to enter the River Yealm follow one after the other.
Please note

Vessels approaching from Portsmouth need not adhere to the initial fix. Once around Mewstone Ledge continue eastward until St. Werburgh's Church is a bearing of 30° or less at which point it is safe to steer for the church with the Slimers safely clear to port.




1. ENTERING WEMBURY BAY

Wembury Bay is ¾ of a mile deep, and the same in width at the entrance between the Slimers and Ebb Rocks.

Wembury Bay and Yealm head as seen from the west
Image: Michael Harpur


The Slimers comprise two detached reefs, named Outer and Inner Slimers, that lie 200 metres apart and partly dry at low water. They lie on the western shore of the bay about 300 metres off the east side off Great Mew Stone.

On the eastern shore are two patches called the Ebb Rocks, the Western and Eastern Ebb Rocks, of which the westernmost lies 600 metres from Gara Point, the south point of Yealm Head. The Ebb Rocks are nearly awash at the lowest tides and have come as an unwanted surprise to many vessels bound for the river. The line of bearing from the initial fix passes more than 300 metres west of the Western Ebb Rocks. Proceeding toward St. Werburgh's Church 010°T of St. Werburgh's Church clears all these dangers.


Wembury Bay as seen from Season Point on the north side of the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


However, it is essential to search out the River Yealm entrance and it marks, as detailed in step 2, when proceeding in avoid running in too close to the northern shore. The hazardous Blackstone Rocks, or Church Ledge, projects 400 metres in a southerly direction from the shoreline beneath St. Werburgh's Church.

Blackstone Rocks, or Church Ledge, as seen at high water
Image: Michael Harpur


If there is any doubt Misery Point well open of Season Point, in the entrance to the River Yealm, clears this ledge.



2. ENTER THE RIVER YEALM CLEAR OF MOUTHSTONE LEDGE

The entrance to the River Yealm
Image: Michael Harpur


The entrance to the River Yealm is easy to make out being at the commencement of a long easterly range of cliffy shore and its dark zigzag line marking its course through the coastal ranges 100 metres in height.


The outer leading marks leading clear of Mouthstone Ledge on a line of bearing of 088° T
Image: Graham Rabbits


When the river mouth opens up north of Yealm Head look for two transit beacons in the trees, close north of Cellar Bay with a house on the ridge close right. They are white unlit triangle marks, one high and the other lower down, with a black stripe, in-line on a bearing of 089°T. These lead to the north of the dangerous Mouthstone Ledge that projects 200 metres from Mouthstone Point the inner point of Yealm Head.

Mouthstone Ledge as seen from Mouthstone Point with the Blackstone Rocks or
Church Ledge also showing

Image: © Alexander Manning




3. PASS SOUTH OF THE SANDBAR

Once Mouthstone Point is abeam the entrance will be clearly seen between the cliff headland of Season Point on the north and the inner point of Yealm Head on the south. A sandbar that dries to 0.6 metres extends southward from the steep Season Point with a deep water pass off its southern end and close to the southern shore.


River Yealm entrance with the sandbar and Mouthstone Ledge visible
Image: © Chris Brown


The southern end of the sandbar is marked by two red buoys, Fl.R.5s, that mark the north and port hand side of the narrow pass, and some yellow buoys will be seen set along the spine of the sandbar. The outer transit of 089°T does not clear the sandbar but rather cuts a path over its southern end, where it dries 0.6 metres, and into Cellar Bay.


A boat passing the two port marks at the end of the southern end of the sandbar
Image: Andrew via CC BY 2.0


So keep north of the transit until about halfway between Mouthstone Point and the first of the two buoys at the end of the spit. Then the best water is midway between the line and the rocks on the southern shore to the first buoy.


A yacht passing the first of the two port marks
Image: Michael Harpur


Steer to pass the two buoys on their correct (southern) side. There is a gap of about 40 metres between the sandbar and the southern shore. It is narrow but provides ample space with its least depths ranging from 1.5 to 3 metres.



4. CONTINUE PAST THE SHALLOWS OFF MISERY POINT

When the second red buoy is passed to port steer towards a pair of red/white inner alignment marks on the north bank on a bearing of 047°T. This section fronting Misery Point is the shallowest part of the river with depths of as little as 1 metre during springs. Keep on the transit until the water deepens as a shallow section with as little as 0.8 metres lies close to port.


Yacht proceeding towards the inner transits to round Misery Point
Image: Michael Harpur


Northward of Misery Point, the river deepens to about 3 metres or more, and the River Yealm takes on the normal river format of deep mid-stream straights, shallow points with deep water on the outer bends. The river is home to a host of local moorings so it is essential to keep a sharp eye out.


The inner leading marks of 047° on Wembury Hill
Image: Graham Rabbits


Continuing upriver make certain to pass the port red 'Spit' buoy, southeast of Warren Point and on the north side of the Pool, on its correct, southern, side as it marks a rock that dries to 1.4 metres.


Mooring areas upriver of Misery Point
Image: Michael Harpur



Haven location In settled conditions it is possible to anchor immediately within the sandbar in Cellar Bay. This bay provides good protection in all conditions save from west round to northwest. Cellar Bay is the only location where it is possible to anchor afloat. No anchoring is possible in any other River Yealm location except by arrangement with Harbourmaster.


Yachts anchored in Cellar Bay
Image: Michael Harpur



After turning around Misery Point the first designated visitors' buoys appear intended to take very large vessels 20 metres / 25 tons.

The first set of visitors moorings around Misery Point
Image: Michael Harpur


The next suite of visitors' buoys and pontoon will be found 400 metres beyond and on the starboard side at Yealm Pool to the south of the port buoy marking the drying spit south of Warren Point. Rafting is permitted during busy periods on the 46 metres long mid-river visitors' pontoon.
Please note

The tide run strong here so be careful coming alongside and use sturdy dock lines.




Yachts moored in Yealm Pool with its landing pontoon
Image: Robert Pitman


Following the river north leads to another and final set of visitors' moorings on the west side of the river to the north of Yealm Hotel.


Yealm Hotel and its dinghy dock
Image: Michael Harpur


Anchoring is not permitted above Madge Point, a ¼ of a mile above the Yealm Hotel, where there are oyster beds.

The River Yealm to the north of the Yealm Hotel
Image: Michael Harpur


Newton Creek, branching eastward to the south of the Yealm Hotel, leads into the quays of Newton Ferrets and Noss Mayo. Although wide, it dries out at low water and the quays dry to 2.7 metres. If space can be found a vessel that can take-to-the-hard can dry out close to the shore. Bridgend, at the head of Newton Creek, also has a quay the can be reached at the last hour of high water.


Newton Ferrers
Image: Michael Harpur


It is possible to pick up vacant local moorings without a tender or note if the vessel is not being left unattended and prepared to move on short notice. But do not leave the vessel unattended on a local mooring without the permission of the harbourmaster who will most likely be encountered patrolling the river in a launch or be found in the harbour office.


Why visit here?
The Yealm River received its name from Celtic times meaning 'kind'. This aptly describes it today from a boating perspective as it is perhaps the most impressive estuary one can come by. Steep-sided and narrow, largely untouched and largely forested down to the river's edge it is simply beautiful.


Yealm Hotel and the Newton Ferrers branch off the River Yealm
Image: Michael Harpur


The river rises 1,411 feet above sea level on the Stall Moor mires of south Dartmoor and travels 12 miles (19 km) to the sea, passing through Cornwood, Lee Mill and Yealmpton, which is its largest settlement, before reaching its estuary which forms a ria bounded on its western side by Wembury.
All of its berthing locations lie in the deep inlet of this ria close within its entrance which forms the waterfront to Newton Ferrers and Noss Mayo on its eastern side. Although anchoring is forbidden above Madge Point, a ¼ of a mile above the fork of the Newtown Creek, the Yealm is readily navigable as far as Shortaflete Creek by tender at high water. An excursion upriver, by dinghy, will be highly rewarding.


Henry Every
Image: CC0
There is, however, plenty to enjoy below Madge Point. Newton Ferrers was recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book as Niwetone. The village was 'given' to a Norman noble family Ferrers when it took on the name of Newton Ferrers. Newton Ferrers is the likely birthplace of the notorious 17th-century pirate Henry Every. Henry Every, also Avery or Evory, (23 August 1659 – time of death uncertain, possibly 1699) sometimes erroneously given as Jack Avery or John Avery, was an English pirate who operated in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the mid-1690s. He probably used several aliases throughout his career, including Benjamin Bridgeman, and was known as Long Ben to his crewmen and associates.


Dubbed 'The Arch Pirate' and 'The King of Pirates' by contemporaries, Every was notorious. He earned his infamy by becoming one of few major pirate captains to retire with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle, and for being the perpetrator of what has been called the most profitable pirate heist in history. Although Every's career as a pirate lasted only two years, his exploits captured the public's imagination, inspired others to take up piracy, and spawned works of literature.


St. Peter's at Noss Mayo as seen from Newton Ferrers
Image: Michael Harpur


Across the creek from Newton Ferrers stands the prominent overwatching St. Peter's at Noss Mayo. The church was built in 1877 by Edward Baring, the 1st Lord Revelstoke, head of the family firm of Barings Bank, to a design by James Piers St Aubyn. The first documentary reference of Noss Mayo was in 1286 as Nesse Matheu. The manor here was held by Matheu son of John from 1284 to 1309. Noss Mayo was given by Edward II of England in 1287 to Mathew Fitzjohn of the manor of ‘Stok’.


Yealm River Taxi
Image: Andrew


During the summer, a river taxi will take passengers around the two villages and makes regular trips between Noss Mayo, Newton Ferrers Harbour and Warren Point, for access to Wembury Bay and its beach beneath St. Werburgh's Church managed by the National Trust.


Wembury Beach managed by the National Trust
Image: Michael Harpur


Laying within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty this lightly touched over these years and it remains an unspoilt and beautiful location for boaters of all kinds. But it is justifiably busy and best visited during the week.


What facilities are available?
Water at slip near Yealm Hotel toilets, rubbish disposal, showers 0800-1800 only. Madge Point, a ¼ of a mile above the Yealm Hotel has scrubbing posts. Newton Ferrers has a Co-operative mini-supermarket, a post office, a butcher who also sells cold meat and cheese, pharmacy, pub, and a Yacht Club on Newton Hill. There are no shops in Noss Mayo, but it has two pubs, The Swan and The Ship. Newton Ferrers has one pub, The Dolphin, and all three are on the waterfront.

Buses are available from both hamlets to Plymouth which has the nearest train station.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur eOceanic.


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Please zoom out to see the 'initial fix' for this location.
The above plots are not precise and indicative only.




Yealm River, Devon, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


St. Werburgh's Church overlooking Wembury Bay and Great Mew Stone
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Cellar Bay in the entrance to the River Yealm
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The first set of visitors moorings around Misery Point
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yealm Pool as seen from the north side of the river
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The view south from Warren Point
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The port red Spit buoy to the southeast of Warren Point as seen from the north
side of the river

Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yachts off the Yealm Hotel
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yacht on moorings above the Yealm Hotel
Image: eOceanic thanks Graham Rabbits


Newton Ferrers
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yealm Yacht club in Newton Ferrers
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yealm Yacht Club in Newton Ferrers
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Yealm Yacht Club in Newton Ferrers
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Newton Ferrers
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Newton Ferrers
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

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