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Plymouth, Plymouth Sound, Anchorages and Central Marinas

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


Draystone Buoy 50:18'.83N 004:11'00W Shagstone (safe distance off) 50:19'.05N 004:07'.70W


Admiralty 30, 1967, 1900, 1901, 1902, 871, SC5602

Rules & Regulations

10 knts in Plymouth Sound, 8 knts in Cattewater, 5 Knts Approaches to Marinas, Dead Slow within Marinas.


Busy Naval and Commercial port, see text for regulations. Strong tidal streams, Upper Reaches Dry.

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW Dover-0540 MHWS 5.5m MHWN 4.4m MLWN 2.2m MLWS 0.8m

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General Description

Plymouth is one of the finest deep water harbours in the country, although its sheer size makes it more suitable for big shipping than for yachts. Eddystone Rocks lay in the approaches at a good offing, and the details of the valliant efforts to build a durable lighthouse are covered in the history pages.

Plymouth is a busy naval and commercial port, and only in more recent times has it become popular for leisure craft. There are now four large centrally located marinas with excellent facilities for visitors, and several smaller marinas. Couple this with miles of navigable water in the rivers that flow into the main harbour, (with a multitude of anchoring opportunities), and you have an area that even deeper draft seagoing yachts could spend a good week exploring.

Nowadays Plymouth is an internationally renowned yachting centre and several major racing events are hosted here. Virtually all facilities can be found. ... read more


Approaching from the West the visiting yachtsman or motorboater will pass Rame Head and then Penlee Point, which has the Draystone Rocks extending for about a quarter of a mile to the SE.  These are marked by the red can Draystone Buoy (Fl(2)R.5s), which should be left to port, although with a large scale chart safe passage can be made inside of this.

It should now be possible to see the conspicuous 19m white lighthouse (Iso.4s10M) that marks the western end of the very low lying breakwater, which is sometimes difficult to see. At night the light is visible from 031 degrees to 039 degrees True, and points the way for shipping from the Draystone Buoy, to the western entrance.

The central breakwater was completed in 1841, and transformed the open roadstead into a fleet anchorage. It is almost 1 mile long, took 29 years to build and landing on it is prohibited.

From the Draystone Buoy a Northerly course, with a touch of East, will bring the small craft towards the entrance and clear of shipping. At night the white sector of the Maker lighthouse ((Fl(2)WRG 10s 16m 11-6M) will help get you in. Note the red can buoy Queens Ground (Fl(2)R.10s), which the small craft can leave on the starboard side thus keeping out of the shipping channel. You are now in Plymouth Sound, expect to see anchored ships.

Further Pilotage Details: ... read more

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

Just outside of Plymouth Sound to the West it possible to anchor tucked deep into the Cawasand Bay Anchorage if the wind is in the West.

It has a gently shelving beach with good holding and has a surprising number of facilities ashore. There is a no anchoring area around Penlee Point and it stretches to the north-east into Cawsand Bay, so anchor off the town fairly close in. It is unwise to leave your boat unattended here in case the wind swings to the East, which makes this anchorage untenable, however if on passage westwards and not wanting to mess about going into Plymouth it is a useful stopping point. Cawsand can get crowded at weekends with local boats.

Ashore there is a shop in Kingsand which is open to 9 p.m. seven days, selling fresh veg, frozen meat and an off-licence. There is a small chandlers that doubles up as a post office in Kingsand also. Hungry sailors will find a good choice of takeaway food and assorted pubs and eating places. Land by dinghy on the beach.

Inside Plymouth Sound anchorage can be found in Barn Pool, due West of Drake's Island. This is sheltered in most westerly weather but it is worth buoying your anchor as the bottom is foul in some places. This anchorage is preferable at neap tides, as getting ashore is easier in the dinghy.

North-east of the pier on Drake's Island is another option. Moorings in this vicinity belong to the Royal Marines. Beware of an underwater obstruction (0.9 m) 400 m due north of the pier.

It should be noted that Millbay Marina Village shown on the charts does not take visiting yachts, only residents. The five marinas with plenty of room for visiting yachts are now listed starting in the West with Mayflower International Marina, followed by King Point Marina, Queen Anne's Battery Marina, Sutton Harbour Marina, and Plymouth Yacht Haven. Full entry details and visitors prices are now provided: ... read more

Your Ratings & Comments

Update Spring 2016
Written by dononshytalk | 10th May 2016
These notes were reviewed by Don in May 2016. The area around King Point Marina is getting less like a builder's yard and their new restaurant is in operation. Most marinas have increased their prices but Sutton Harbour has dropped theirs.
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Written by mark prior | 4th Apr 2015
The shower, loo and laundry block has just re-opened (April 2015) and is stunningly good. It's worth visiting Plymouth just because it's probably better than your bathroom at home. Grey slate tiling, option include just showers, showers with sink, showers with loo and sink. And, get this, a bath option. Five star. I haven't been paid to say this, but I live aboard here and am deilighted with the change after a winter of cold portacabins.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Update March 2014
Written by dononshytalk | 19th Mar 2014
These notes were reviewed in March 2014. There's a NEW MARINA!! It has been developed by Sutton Harbour Marina and is located in the old Millbay Dock inner basin. At the time of writing the surrounding area may be a bit raw but it is scheduled for "regeneration" and will improve. All details have been included in the text above. Other than that we've updated prices where possible - everyone has gone up a few percent on the 2013 prices.
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 1st Feb 2013
The harbour notes for Plymouth, Plymouth Sound etc were updated by Don T on 1st February 2013. All hyperlinks were checked, corrected and some new ones added. Prices have been updated for the 2013 season and, in some cases, these have been adjusted down or 2012 rates maintained.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Tom Webb, around Britain on a 21' Beneteau 2011
Written by Tom Webb Sailing | 31st Oct 2011
28/8 – Plymouth – Plymouth is one of my favourite places and maybe because of that I chose to go to Uni there. Entering Plymouth you either can enter through the West of Eastern entrance due to the large break water that situates in the centre of the harbour, there is fantastic views of Drakes Island and Smeatons tower on the barbican, you can either go to Queen Marys Battery marina or go through the lock into Sutton Marina, I was is Sutton marina and is a fantastic marina with modern facilities and quality service. Before getting to the marinas there is a danger marked by a square of cardinals but all the dangers are very well marked and the lock keeper on the VHF is the stand-up comedian of the airwaves.
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