Harbour Information (use the icons to find out more)

Exmouth and River Exe (including Topsham and Exeter Canal)

Your Comments: 6 Read or add your comments

Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign

Waypoint

Safe Offing: 50:35'.5N 003:24'.0W

Charts

Admiralty 2290, SC5601 SC5903 SC5914

Rules & Regulations

10 Knts Speed Limit

Hazards

Approach Dangerous in strong onshore winds /swell, large drying areas inside, strong tidal streams within.

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW Dover -0455 MHWS 4.6m MHWN 3.4m MLWN 1.7m MLWS 0.5m (Topsham HW +20min Exmouth)   (links)

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General Description

Often overlooked by those heading West, the Exe estuary at high tide stretches 6 miles long and about a mile wide. Unlike other Devon harbours it is low and flat and very much like the estuaries of the East coast of England. It is a magnet for birdwatchers and conservationists with the whole area being designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

The whole area comes under the umbrella of the Exe Estuary Management Partnership and it can be difficult to work out who is responsible for what (especially when you come across an inviting looking buoy!) Where possible we have indicated below who owns what and given a means of contact but the list may be by no means exhaustive. ... read more

Approach

 It is inadvisable to approach the area with onshore winds from the East, right through to the South West. Heavy swell from this direction will also cause problems. Confused and breaking seas, plague the approach, and as you run in parallel to the beach you will be worryingly close to the lee Shore, which has several rocky outcrops to add to the fun.

In settled offshore conditions the ideal time to approach is around 2 to 3 hours before high water, in daylight. Although the channel is lit, a nighttime approach is not recommended.
... read more

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

There are various mooring options around Exmouth, Starcross, Topsham and the Exeter Canal. These are now covered starting with:

Exmouth Marina, is formed in the old dock basin and has it's own Admiralty chart 2290-2. It is now full of pontoons and surrounded by a fancy housing development. Although once dredged to 2m it was silting up, the bottom being soft mud.  Room here used to be very restricted but they now have dedicated visitor berthing. They are on VHF channel 14 callsign " Exmouth Dock",  telephone 01395 269314 and it would be wise to contact them to check on availability. The office is only open during normal office hours so, if you intend to arrive after that, you should make sure that the marina office is made aware of it.  On approach to the dock entrance beware of strong cross tides and counter eddies as these can reach velocities of to 5 or 6 kn. Be warned, you don't want to be stuck there trying to hold while some one searches for someone to open the bridge; so make contact early. ... read more

Your Ratings & Comments

6 comments
There's a reason people pass exmouth by!
Written by Pmjd | 1st Jun 2014
We arrived on a Saturday at the end of May. No visitors pontoon. 4 privately held visitors buoys with no pickups so almost impossible to grab in the strong currents. Expensive ferry service to town that quits at 6 pm! No place to land your dingy except by paying 5 quid a visit to the marina. The town centre is desolate. The river exe cafe I the middle of the river was full. Good for them! All in all a terrible and expensive experience.

We also thought diesel was expensive and harbour master confirmed the lack of facilities and welcome for visitors.

The river is perfectly easy to enter in reasonable conditions but both the Ebb and the flood are strong.

Don't bother. Lyme Regis is much nicer and much more welcoming.
Update April 2014
Written by dononshytalk | 18th Apr 2014
These notes were reviewed in March 2014 and again in April 2014. We are concerned about the depths and alignment of the entry channel here following the winter storms. Efforts are being made by the locals (including the cox of the lifeboat) to ascertain the extent of the changes and we have reflected this in our text. We acknowledge that the seasoned River Exe sailor will find no difficulty in navigating these waters (though, even they say they would stay clear in strong easterly conditions) but, as we have to write for the visiting sailor (who may or may not be seasoned!) we err on the side of caution; do your sums carefully, follow the buoyage and do not try to squeeze in late in the ebb or early in the flood (give it a couple of hours on either side of the ebb to be on the safe side)
River Exe - Easier than some have suggested and well worth a visit.
Written by Robin Adams | 2nd Jul 2013
Do not be put off by some of the descriptions here of this being a difficult entrance. This entrance is manageable by anybody of modest experience - and no more intimidating than Dartmouth or Salcombe. Yes there are currents up to 5 knots in the area outside the harbour, but so can there be in the Solent (which people don't seem to get so worried about). The Lower Exe has 700 boat moorings, most of whom seem to go in and out freely without problems. We have a sailing boat moored in the Exe capable of motoring at 5 - 6 knots and we go through the entrance without hesitation both with the tide and against the tide. We normally stick with HW+/-3hrs, but if truth be known, we could get in/out at LW on neaps. Contrary to another poster on this site, the sand banks do not move rapidly or frequently, There was a change in the entrance channel 4 or 5 years ago, but it seems to have remained fairly much the same since.

When approaching the channel coming in, find the fairway buoy and you will then see the clearly marked channel taking you in towards the beach. Stay in the middle of the channel and all will be well. The channel turns slightly to port to run parallel to the beach. The chanel buoys are more spread out here, but easily spotted. Yes the beach is often a lee shore, but its a sandy beach - and it's nice to be able to watch the children playing on the beach as you come along this section. Once you reach the end of the beach you pass the harbour entrance (where there is a strong tidal stream, but plenty of space and you can normally avoid the fastest flowing section by going further over towards the Warren if need be). The main channel turns sharply to the West at the harbour entrance and from here you follow the channel markers to your destination.

Once in the Exe there is a large expanse of water to explore, starting with the town of Exmouth http://www.exmouth-guide.co.uk, the sandy Dawlish Warren, the wonderful floating River Exe Cafe http://riverexecafe.com, Starcross, the extremely nice Turf Hotel (Pub) with gardens overlooking the river and visitor moorings you can swing on overnight and the delightful town of Topsham with several rather nice pubs.

Enjoy your visit
Robin
4 of 4 people found this helpful
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 24th Jan 2013
The harbour notes for Exemouth & the river Exe were updated by Don T on the 24th of January 2013. The significant change here is the approach channel. The description now on this site (Jan 2013) was checked and rewritten in consultation with the person responsible for laying the buoys and can be relied upon. Prices and links have been checked for 2013.
3 of 3 people found this helpful
Exeter Canal
Written by Paul Fay Marine Surveys | 18th May 2012
We have visited the canal for short stays twice now. It is a really nice place but far from any shops which are a bike ride away. The minimum stay is two days and reasonably priced. Cost £10.60 a day for 40 foot yacht. The canal office telephone number is 01392 274306. Phone ahead to arrange entry. There are good visitors moorings outside. Electricity and water are available as are showers.
3 of 3 people found this helpful
exmouth and river exe , canal entry
Written by clare | 26th Sep 2011
If this is your first visit then proceed carefully this estuary can be very deceiving , depth can rise and fall very quickly making running aground and long waits for high tide a all to often story for those who havent checked upto date charts(the very latest).
Fast flowing estuary causing fast shifting sand bars , so do not take short cuts. Watch tides, this estuary runs almost dry daily so be warned.
This is a great place especially further down into canal area some great secluded areas for overnighting etc , well worth the trip ,just plan journey well dont take chances.
3 of 4 people found this helpful
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