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Ilfracombe Harbour

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


None Given


AC 1160 SC5608

Rules & Regulations


Up to 3 Knt stream across the approach line at springs, Overfalls W of Rillage Point (known as the "Buggy Pit")

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW Dover-0525 MHWS 9.2m, MHWN 6.9m, MLWS 0.7m, MLWN 3.0m   (links)

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General Description

Harbour Master
  tel  01271 862108  VHF # 16/12 http://www.northdevon.gov.uk/business/ilfracombe-harbour/ilfracombe-harbour-charges/

Ilfracombe is a natural harbour located at the southern entrance to the Bristol Channel; although, today, it looks very much man-made one can see that the beach at the top of the harbour was the beginnings of what has developed since pre-history into the harbour that we see today.

There have been various stages of development from a sheltered beach over which fish and various supplies could be landed, through a walled harbour which traded with other Channel ports (coal & limestone one way and agricultural products the other) and eventually further abroad to Ireland and France. It was also a useful jumping off point for various bellicose adventures in Ireland, Scotland and, of course, during our spats with the French and Spanish. ... read more


Coming from the west strong tidal races will be found off Bull Point (Fl(3)10s54m20M). An offing of 5 miles will clear this. That's the "official" warning! 

In actual fact you will have timed your run to be going past Hartland Point northbound at half flood and across Morte bay with about two hours to run before HW at Ilfracombe. Aim to pass just under a cable west of the Morte Stone SHM (the overfalls inside it can be viscious and scary, though they will eventually spit you out in the right direction, they are best avoided!) before turning towards Bull Point. The tide will carry you out round the rocks to the west of Bull Point so that when the North Devon coast opens you can turn east and romp the last few miles to Ilfracombe on the last of the tide.  It is totally unnecessary to plod all the way out round the Horseshoe  buoy, just scratch your boat's name on Bull Point with a boat hook as you go past - it's very deep close in and there are no overfalls there.  That's an exaggeration but fifty yards off is far enough.  Ilfracombe lies along the coast about half a mile eastwards of Capstone Point, and about 200m east of Lantern Hill (Fl(2)G.5s 39m6M).  Don't cut the corner too tight coming into Ilfracombe, hold off until the south end of the pier (second green light) becomes open and, at night use the leading lights (Oc10s) on a bearing of 188°T. ... read more

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

Anchor by carefully nosing into the Outer Harbour, watching out for the rocky ledges and leaving plenty of room for vessels leaving the inner harbour and using the pier walls.

Always use an anchor light at night.
At neaps you will have more leeway and shallow draft craft may even remain afloat.  There are eight mooring buoys generally used by bilge keelers.

We have given a chartlet of the harbour showing the available spots for visitors. Be careful of the alongside moorings (V12 to V14) it is very shallow there and you should ensure that you will have enough water to get away when you plan and not end up neaped. Those three moorings have the advantage of having shore power available but the disadvantage of not getting any sun until after lunch.  The alongside berths against the North Quay are very open to holiday makers who can be careless about where they ditch their empty food containers especially as the waste receptacles are normally full by teatime at the weekend. ... read more

Your Ratings & Comments

Update Spring 2016
Written by dononshytalk | 19th Apr 2016
These notes were reviewed by Don in April 2016. Only change is the price for this season
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Approach from the West
Written by dononshytalk | 21st Oct 2011
Most of the local yachtsmen ignore the Horseshoe buoy off Bull Point. The Point itself is "steep to" and, although there is a noticeable increase in the swell as one passes, the overfalls do not start until a good quarter of a mile off the Point - fifty yards off and you save a very long treck around the buoy.
On the other hand, the next navigation point to the West is Mortpoint buoy and you go inside that at your peril!!
For drinking & entertainment - there are at least six pubs/eateries looking out over the harbour - the only problem is rowing back out to your boat!!!!!
2 of 2 people found this helpful
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