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River Tamar & Tributaries

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Overview





The River Tamar flows into the English Channel by passing through Plymouth Sound on England's south coast. The river and its tributaries offer many anchorages and berthing opportunities for deep draft vessels and many more for shoal draft vessels that can take to the mud when the water is away.

Entered by passing through the protected Plymouth Sound, the river offers complete protection from all conditions. Plymouth Sound and the path to the river mouth may be safely accessed through the wide and deep commercial channels that exist on either side of Plymouth Breakwater in all reasonable conditions, at any stage of the tide, night or day.



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Keyfacts for River Tamar & Tributaries
Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapGas availableShop 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 area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: rising tide required for accessNote: harbour fees may be chargedNaval or military area with specific regulations

Protected sectors

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

Approaches
5 stars: Safe access; all reasonable conditions.
Shelter
5 stars: Complete protection; all-round shelter in all reasonable conditions.



Last modified
March 11th 2019

Summary* Restrictions apply

A completely protected location with safe access.

Facilities
Water hosepipe available alongsideWater available via tapGas availableShop 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 area


Nature
No fees for anchoring or berthing in this locationMarina or pontoon berthing facilitiesAnchoring locationVisitors moorings available, or possibly by club arrangementBeach or shoreline landing from a tenderScenic location or scenic location in the immediate vicinitySet near a village or with a village in the immediate vicinity

Considerations
Restriction: rising tide required for accessNote: harbour fees may be chargedNaval or military area with specific regulations



Position and approaches
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Haven position

50° 21.523' N, 004° 10.211' W

This is close inside the port Battery buoy, Fl.R.2s, off Wilderness Point and in the entrance to the river ..


What are the key points of the approach?

Seaward approaches are available in southwestern England’s coastal overview from Start Point to Lizard Point Route location. Plymouth sound is detailed in the Plymouth Harbour Click to view haven entry.


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 Tamar & Tributaries for your convenience.
Ten nearest havens by straight line charted distance and bearing:
  1. Plymouth Harbour - 0.9 miles ENE
  2. River Yealm - 3.3 miles ESE
  3. River Erme - 5.5 miles ESE
  4. Looe Harbour - 6.7 miles W
  5. River Avon - 7.7 miles ESE
  6. Polperro Harbour - 8.3 miles W
  7. Hope Cove - 8.5 miles ESE
  8. Kingsbridge - 9.8 miles ESE
  9. Lantic Bay - 10.4 miles W
  10. Salcombe - 10.6 miles ESE
These havens are ordered by straight line charted distance and bearing, and can be reordered by compass direction or coastal sequence:
  1. Plymouth Harbour - 0.9 miles ENE
  2. River Yealm - 3.3 miles ESE
  3. River Erme - 5.5 miles ESE
  4. Looe Harbour - 6.7 miles W
  5. River Avon - 7.7 miles ESE
  6. Polperro Harbour - 8.3 miles W
  7. Hope Cove - 8.5 miles ESE
  8. Kingsbridge - 9.8 miles ESE
  9. Lantic Bay - 10.4 miles W
  10. Salcombe - 10.6 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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What's the story here?
River Tamar
Image: CC0


The River Tamar's rises less than 4 miles from the north Cornish coast from where it flows southward across the county to exit into the English Channel by Plymouth Sound. During its 60 mile course it forms most of the historic border between Devon, to the east, and Cornwall, to the west. Hamoaze is the lower part of the river and can be considered its river mouth. Tributaries of the Tamar include the rivers Inny, Ottery, Kensey, and Lynher a.k.a. St. Germans River on the Cornish side, and the Deer and the Tavy on the Devon side. Its estuary and lower tributaries create a barrier to east-west communication, which is solved by the ferry at Torpoint and the Tamar Road Bridge upstream of the historic railway bridge at Saltash.

The Tamar is navigable on the rise for 12 miles to Calstock where 0.7 metres LAT will be found. Small shallow boats can carry on exploring for a few more miles up to Morwellham and beyond. Gunnislake Weir, which is the head of navigation, can be reached by craft carrying 1.5 metres draught at MHWS but for most part, this is best carried out by a dinghy.

Though shallow in its upper reaches, the River Tamar fairway carries 2.4 metres as far as Neal Point, 1¼ miles above the Tamar Bridge, thereafter shallow patches will be encountered on the approaches. After Cargreen the river is only navigable by deep draft vessels on the tide. The channel contracts is increasingly winding and intricate but is nonetheless relatively straightforward with the best water always on the outside of the bends.

The first major tributary to the Tamar is the St. German River which opens on the west side of the river below the Tamar Bridges and just past Devonport on the opposite bank. It has good water in its marked channel for 1½ miles and several deep pools after this. The tide flows up the St. German as far as Tideford, which is 6 miles from its junction with the Tamar, and the private quay at St German's, 2 miles below this, may be reached at high water by vessels drawing 1.8 metres that can dry when the tide is away.

St. Germans River is the only tributary we cover as Tamerton Lake and the River Tavy, 1½ miles above the Tamar Bridge, have a railway bridge with 7.6 metres clearance which prohibits sailing boats. The river dries almost completely at LW but it may still be explored on the tide by a tender as far as Bere Ferrers.

The river and its surrounds are a World Heritage Site due to its historic mining activities and it is a cruising mecca for vessels that take to the mud. Deeper-draught vessels should not be put off as the river and its tributaries also offer a surprising amount of useful deep water berths. The options for progressing upriver are as follows:


Cremyll

Cremyll
Image: Michael Harpur

Anchorage Cremyll lies off the Hamoaze on the Cornwall side of the river around Cremyll Point and beyond Mashford boatyard. Though just a few miles from the city it is entirely undeveloped and offers a deep water anchorage on the steep-to shore close outside of the local moorings. Before the Plymouth breakwater was built this was where vessels anchored to shelter from southerly gales.

The channel leading to Millbrook Lake
Image: Michael Harpur


Do not stray too far in as the two large inlets Millbrook Lake and Saint John’s Lake are fronted by the vast drying area of West Mud. Vessels that can take to the mud will, however, find excellent shelter on the drying approaches to Millbrook Lake. In either case, sound in and anchor off according to draft.


Yachts off Cremyll
Image: Michael Harpur


Row or motor ashore or land at the old quay. The simply beautiful Cornish Coastal path follows the shoreline back around Cremyll Point and through Edgcumbe Country Park. A regular passenger ferry runs from Cremyll to Stonehouse from where there are buses right into the centre of Plymouth. Vessels equipped with a stalwart outboard that can take the currents of the Hamoaze, could cut across directly to the City of Plymouth.

Alternatively, a mile westward and at the head of the Millbrook Lake inlet is the village of Millbrook that offers a convenience store and pubs serving food. This is possible on the top half of the tide for shallow draft vessels or by tender.




Southdown Marina

Southdown Marina
Image: Michael Harpur


Southdown Marina is a small, quiet, traditional marina on the entrance to Millbrook Lake. It has 35 berths, including designated visitor berths, that dry to soft mud LWS 2 metres above CD. It can only be accessed at High Water ±4 where it has about 2 metres of water. The small marina provides visitors with walk ashore berths from its pontoons or drying quay.


The channel to Southdown Marina at low water
Image: Michael Harpur


Dry for a large proportion of the time and in a sheltered harbour recess, it is well-protected and in a quiet rural location. Its shore facilities include toilets, showers, laundry and a café that serves food. The village of Millbrook is just a ½ mile walk away. The marina’s old quays date back to a 17th-century gunpowder factory which, during the 18th-century, was the site of the King's Brewhouse for Navy ale. A history that is retained today by the marina's onsite bar.


Yachts alongside at Southdown Marina
Image: Michael Harpur


It is best to contact Southdown Marina in advance of any intended visit, VHF 80/M [Southdown Marina], Landline+44 1752 823084, E-mailoffice@hugginsmarine.com, Websitewww.southdownmarina.com.




Torpoint Yacht Harbour

Torpoint Yacht Harbour
Image: Michael Harpur


Torpoint Yacht Harbour is situated one mile from Plymouth Sound on the western shore across the Hamoaze from Plymouth and about two miles below Saltash. It is a small marina built within an old Ballast Pound that is dredged to 2 metres within the confines of the harbour walls. The small marina hosts 80 pontoon berths and is capable of hosting vessels of up to 14 metres with all tide access.


Torpoint Yacht Harbour within an old Ballast Pound
Image: Michael Harpur


It also has a drying outer harbour wall suitable for large vessels to moor against and take to the ground. The outer wall dries to soft shingle beach around 6 hours each tide. Torpoint Yacht Harbour also manages 100 + swinging and trot moorings, at which they may be able to locate a vacant berth for a visitor. Owners using this facility can use a courtesy taxi rib boat to go to and from their vessel without the need for a dinghy.

Visitor berths are available by prior arrangement with the marina office Landline+44 1752 813658, E-mailoffice@torpointyachtharbour.co.uk, Websitewww.torpointyachtharbour.co.uk. Be aware of the chain ferries running between the city and Torpoint. These cannot give way and can be particularly challenging when the tide is in full stream.




St. Germans

The entrance to St German's River as seen from above Antony Passage
Image: Michael Harpur


The River Lynher is called St Germans River when downstream from its confluence with the Tiddy. Its wide mouth enters the River Tamar on the west side of the Hamoaze, upstream of the dockyards and ¾ of a mile below the Tamar Bridge just beyond a trot of large warship moorings. The broad stretch of water beyond this, progressively turns into a wonderfully calm and unspoilt rural hideaway where the crew will have to rely upon the vessel’s provisions.


The western end of St. German's River
Image: Michael Harpur


The river carries at least 2.2 metres for the first 1½ miles to Ince Point and is buoyed for 2¼ miles. Deep draft vessels can go as far as Dandy Hole on the tide and anchor off in deep water. On the tide shoal draft vessels can progress 4 miles inland to the private quay at St German's where it is possible to dry by arrangement with The Quay Sailing Club. St Germans’ most popular anchoring locations are as follows progressing westward upriver:


Yachts anchored off Sand Acre Bay
Image: Michael Harpur


Anchorage This is close east of Sand Acre point and north of the first starboard buoy with depths of up to 4 metres. Sound into the north bank and anchor off according to draft. Situated less than ½ a mile within the entrance this is a very convenient anchoring location but it is close to the mainline railway that tends to disturb the wonderful tranquillity of this lovely river hideaway.



Antony Passage
Image: Michael Harpur


Anchorage The Anthony Passage anchorage lies off the mouth of Forder Lake, a deep inlet opening in