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The Bight

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Overview





The Bight is a traditional mooring area situated immediately within the estuary of the River Exe on England’s south coast. It offers visitor moorings provided by the Exeter City Council.

Tucked away inside the river estuary The Bight offers good protection from all conditions. However, currents run strong here and boats will most likely be tide rode. Daylight approaches are straightforward as although the Exe entrance is challenging, it is well marked with lit lateral marks. However, as it has to be approached near high water and in daylight, some planning is required to time the approach appropriately.
Please note

The entrance of the Exe should not be approached in any developed southwest around to southeast conditions, particularly on the ebb. Once inside the river mouth, the body of water in the estuary is largely protected.




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Keyfacts for The Bight
Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the area


Nature
Remote or quiet secluded locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityA secure location

Considerations
Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be chargedLittle air protection

Protected sectors

Current wind over the protected quadrants
Minimum depth
3 metres (9.84 feet).

Approaches
3 stars: Attentive navigation; daylight access with dangers that need attention.
Shelter
4 stars: Good; assured night's sleep except from specific quarters.



Last modified
November 7th 2018

Summary

A good location with attentive navigation required for access.

Facilities
Marked or notable walks in the vicinity of this locationPleasant family beach in the area


Nature
Remote or quiet secluded locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinityA secure location

Considerations
Note: can get overwhelmed by visiting boats during peak periodsNote: strong tides or currents in the area that require considerationNote: harbour fees may be chargedLittle air protection



Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 36.735' N, 003° 25.921' W

This is the position of the No. 13 Buoy, Q.G. All the Exe County Council visitor moorings are situated close west of this buoy.

What is the initial fix?

The following River Exe Initial Fix will set up a final approach:
50° 35.860' N, 003° 23.790' W
This is the position of the 'Exe' Safe Water Light Buoy Mo(A)10s from which the first lateral marks of the entrance channel can be seen.


What are the key points of the approach?

Offshore details are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Portland Bill to Start Point Route location, Exmouth Click to view haven for seaward approaches from the River Exe Initial Fix and Topsham Click to view haven for the River Exe.


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 The Bight for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Exmouth - 0.2 miles NE
  2. Starcross - 0.5 miles NNW
  3. Starcross Yacht Club - 1.4 miles NNW
  4. Turf Lock (Exeter Canal) - 2.1 miles NNW
  5. Topsham - 2.6 miles NNW
  6. Teignmouth - 3.1 miles SSW
  7. Watcombe Cove - 4.7 miles SSW
  8. Babbacombe Bay - 5.2 miles SSW
  9. Anstey’s Cove - 5.4 miles SSW
  10. Hope Cove (Tor Bay) - 5.6 miles SSW
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Exmouth - 0.2 miles NE
  2. Starcross - 0.5 miles NNW
  3. Starcross Yacht Club - 1.4 miles NNW
  4. Turf Lock (Exeter Canal) - 2.1 miles NNW
  5. Topsham - 2.6 miles NNW
  6. Teignmouth - 3.1 miles SSW
  7. Watcombe Cove - 4.7 miles SSW
  8. Babbacombe Bay - 5.2 miles SSW
  9. Anstey’s Cove - 5.4 miles SSW
  10. Hope Cove (Tor Bay) - 5.6 miles SSW
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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What's the story here?
The Bight
Image: Michael Harpur


The Bight lies immediately inside the estuary of the River Exe and about a ⅓ of a mile from the river mouth that is overlooked by the town of Exmouth. It is a deepwater section of the channel close south of the drying Bull Hill Bank that is marked by the Starboard No. 13 and No. 15 buoys. Exeter City Council provides 5 seasonal yellow visitor buoys here, marked 'ECC', situated close together and located close upstream of the No.13 buoy.

The moorings support depths of 3 - 5.5 metres, with four of the buoys supporting boats of up to 12 metres, whilst the fifth can handle larger boats. Exeplorer Water Taxis are the sole agents for Exeter City Council visitor moorings. No prior bookings are taken as availability is strictly on a first-come, first served basis. However, Exeplorer Water Taxis have their own moorings and they may be able to accommodate vessels during busy periods.

Contact the Exeplorer Water Taxis on VHF channel 37 (M), +44 7970 918418, exeplorerwatertaxis@gmail.com, for advice. The estuary taxi service they provide collects the mooring fees which, as of 2018, was £13.90 per boat.


How to get in?
The No. 13 starboard buoy within the entrance
Image: Michael Harpur


Convergance Point Use southwestern England’s coastal overview from Portland Bill to Start Point Route location, Exmouth Click to view haven for seaward approaches from the River Exe Initial Fix and Topsham Click to view haven for the River Exe up to the No. 13 starboard buoy.
Please note

It is advisable to arrive at the initial fix at High Water -1.



The moorings will be seen close upstream of the buoy on the north side of The Bight situated in a line close together.

The moorings just above the No. 13 buoy
Image: Michael Harpur


Haven location Pick up the moorings and notify the Exeplorer Water Taxis.

The Warren is part of the Exe Estuary European Special Protection Area and Ramsay site. Craft are welcome to land in the 'Defined Landing Area' known as Soft Sand Bay during the sailing season. This area is located about 150 metres southwest of Warren Point's northern extremity and is signposted on the beach.


The 'Defined Landing Area' known as Soft Sand Bay area
Image: Michael Harpur


Exmouth is also accessible by tender, as is Starcross. However, the tides can run very strongly in this area and a stalwart outboard will be required to make progress when the tide is running strong. If there are any concerns, or you do not want to go to the trouble of the launching the tender, the Exeplorer Water Taxis can be made use of.


Why visit here?
Moorings in The Bight provides direct access to the 500 acres of natural beauty that is Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve.


Dawlish Warren
Image: Michael Harpur


Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve is an area of grassland, sand dunes and mudflats, and centres on a 1½ mile long sandspit/beach across the mouth of the Exe Estuary. Made of estuary sediments and sand, the Warren has been in existence for 7,000 years and was formed in the wake of the ice age which ended around 12000 years ago. As the ice retreated, the sea levels rose, eventually settling at its present level around 5000 years ago. Since then the combined action of the river and the tides at the mouth of the River Exe have deposited this sand spit and it's constantly shifting Pole Sand that has to be circumvented in order to enter.


The Bight as seen from the Warren
Image: Michael Harpur


Dune systems are, by their nature, dynamic and the sea is constantly changing the Warren and the shape of Pole Sand. Its shape and form has changed repeatedly under the influence of storms, currents and available sediment, with periods of erosion and rebuilding, accretion, occurring. There is evidence that a civil war fort existed here that was lost to the sea in 1817. Then a violent storm washed away five acres of the Warren. In 1824, another storm caused the sea to completely breach the land at Dawlish, inundate the lower part of Exmouth, and flooded and damaged several houses in Starcross. Warren Point was then left cut off by tidal creeks leaving a separate island in the mouth of the estuary for some time. 14 years later, around a quarter of Dawlish Warren was then washed away by another storm. The subsequent move of the river mouth towards Exmouth contributed to historic Topsham's decline in the 19th-century as it caused siltation of its harbour in the north end of the estuary.


The Exe Estuary side of the Warren
Image: Michael Harpur


In the 1960’s and 70’s the spit was strengthened by a man-made rock 'spine', and beach groynes. A tidal creek which existed in the centre of the spit was filled to prevent the sea breaching the gap between the spit and Warren Point. In the 1990’s the seawall was strengthened. The Warren we know today is likely to continue to evolve in the years to come and it may even become a casualty to climate change. A 2018 'Committee on Climate Change' report noted that sea levels have edged up by 15cm (6'') since 1900 and could rise by another 50-80cm by the end of the century, as a result of man-made global warming.

Old sea groyne on the seaward side of the Warren
Image: Michael Harpur


Today the Warren is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and forms part of the Exe Estuary Special Protection Area (SPA) and Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar site). It includes the main roosting area for the Estuary’s birds and more than 600 different types of flowering British wild plant have been recorded here. It is also a good example of a spit in the later stages of development and is similar to others such as Hurst Castle Spit, Hampshire, and Orfordness, Suffolk. So enjoy the wonderful Soft Sand Bay but please avoid exploring the dunes and grassland. Wildlife in this wonderful remote area needs to remain undisturbed.


Sea wall and popular beach on the seaward side
Image: Michael Harpur


Soft Sand Bay and the nature reserve is a peaceful and interesting place but if you have children aboard in need of more lively location it is possible to follow the paths, for 15-20 minutes, to arrive at Dawlish beach on the opposite seaward shore. This is a popular holiday resort where a more active 'amusement' area with its gaming arcades, fast food and beach shops may be found. It is very popular with holidaymakers and the beach and the Warren included attracts some 500,000 people a year. The reserve's visitor centre may also be enjoyed as part of this expedition.


Moorings in a natural reserve
Image: Michael Harpur


From a boating perspective, this is a lovely set of moorings. Although Devon has a number of estuaries few are as extensive as the Exe. This is a landscape of open skies characterised by the magnificent dunes of The Warren to the south and the gently rising landform on either side west and east that is very pretty. Views over the river are distinctive and the detail of the scene changes according to tide and skies above, but it is always enjoyed to the chorus of seabirds.


What facilities are available?
There are no facilities here. Exmouth town, via tender or water taxi, caters for almost all requirements.


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.




The Bight, Exe Estuary, Devon, England
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Local boat moorings in the approaches
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The No. 13 starboard buoy
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The tower Exmouth Holy Trinity Church seen over the sand-duns
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


The 'Defined Landing Area' known as Soft Sand Bay
Image: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur


Sea wall and popular beach on the seaward side
Image: Michael Harpur




Dawlish Warren




Dawlish Beach



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