Harbour Information (use the icons to find out more)

Exmouth and River Exe (including Topsham and Exeter Canal)

Your Comments: 15 Read or add your comments

Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


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


Admiralty 2290, SC5601 SC5903 SC5914

Rules & Regulations

10 Knts Speed Limit


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

Contacts   Harbour Masters Office    01395 223265  or 07864 958658
                                                           VHF 12 (C/S Exeter Port Authority)
                 Exmouth Marina               01395 269324  VHF  14 (C/S Exmouth Dock)

  ... read more


It is inadvisable to approach the area with onshore winds from the East, right through to the South West. ... read more

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

There are various mooring options around Exmouth, Starcross, Topsham and the Exeter Canal. There are various options offered by the local authority along with package deals for locking into and out of the canal at the Turf Lock -you can find details of this at  ... read more

Your Ratings & Comments

Update April 2022
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 12th Apr 2022
I reviewed these notes in the spring of 2022. I think that the people in this area have upped their game a bit since the early comments made below six years ago. Certainly Exmouth marina is a better option than it used to be but the activities in the approach channel should be born in mind. I've adjusted the prices but there are so many variables they could be a mis-interpretation on my part.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 30th Mar 2021
I reviewed these notes at the end of March 2021. Exmouth Dock has been partially dredged. The No 23 buoy has been found (!!) . There are warnings that depths may be a bit less over the bar at the beginning of the entry channel so err on the side of caution. Prices have changed across the board except Exmouth Marina.
Topsham - worth a visit
Written by Tyro Sailor | 27th Mar 2021
Three visits in 2018/19

Lots of tidal stream in the entrance, from the landfall buoy onwards, and especially in the region of Warren Point. If you're going up the river you want it flooding of course, but not too fast as it'll be a bit of a roller coaster. The moorings, of which there are many, would probably be a good place to practise ferry gliding!

Last time I visited I arrived from Brixham at low water and followed the flood all the way up to Trout's yard at Topsham where there's a barely-drying pontoon. The channel is well-marked for the most part, except that buoy no.23 was there, but a green can in 2019. Yes. Not a red can, or a green cone. Watch the echosounder like a hawk. I hit the putty only once, with a three-foot draught. Up at the town the channel is not as clear; I left the last lot of moored boats to port and came to no harm.

Trout's have a single loo available, and a well-stocked chandlery. Mark Trout is helpful and might leave you an electronic fob to get you in and out of the yard when he's gone home. Otherwise you might try the adjacent Sailing Club, bearing in mind that their pontoon is theoretically for dinghies only, especially on Wednesday evenings when their races are held. Good cheap home-made meals in the pleasant bar at that time. One or two dedicated visitors' buoys 20 yards off.
Lovely little town with proper shops including a nearby Co-op for victuals and an art shop where I was able to buy a violet pen for correcting charts. And famously, lots of pubs, one of which will serve you their many beers in 1/3 pint glasses so you can try several without falling over. Recommended.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Exeter Ship Canal trip - October 2018
Written by Soolin | 14th Oct 2018
My friends and I enjoyed a lovely trip from Turf Lock to Exeter, overnight in Exeter Basin and back down again the following day, at the beginning of October.
It is not cheap but if you organise a few boats to go and split the cost, it is OK. And, when you see what you get for your money, you realise that it is not really that expensive. The canal chaps accompany you all the way, by road, open all the bridges and operate the locks. This is for two days. And then, the Countess Wear Road Bridge is opened and all the traffic held up just for you! It is definitely worth the money.
Fortunately, the weather was on our side which made it a glorious trip.
My only gripe is the lack of facilities when you get to Exeter - however, I can't see they can spend thousands on state of the art shower and toilet blocks if nobody uses it.
The canal chaps were so helpful and friendly and played a very large part in the enjoyment of our escapade. The lady at the canal office was similarly helpful and friendly when I was trying to organise it.
If you live locally, and own a boat, I would highly recommend doing this.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Written by Don Thomson | 27th Apr 2018
These notes were reviewed by Don in April 2018. Note the depth restrictions in Exmouth Dock Marina. We've checked with Tony Smith who is responsible for the buoyage and have been told it is unchanged since the winter. Prices have been updated. Contact has been made with the Watertaxi who is starting his 2nd season; they now have a website and sound ok
New Exmouth Water Taxi
Written by Bryant | 31st May 2017
"The new owners of the water taxis would like to let you know the River Exe is very much the place to visit.

Visitors moorings available all states of tide. Frequent taxis to and from the shore. Nice new wide slipway for easy launching.

Call 07970918418 for more information. "

1 of 1 people found this helpful
The ex river and canal to visit!!
Written by Harding | 20th Aug 2016
Please!! If your sailing around our beautiful Devon coast, give the ex river and the ship canal visiting moorings a miss!! Council are completely useless at operating a visiting boat, book to go in the turf lock and it will cost you £50!!!! One way, once you arrive you get dodgy old pontoons with a trickling tap on the side of a old shed that houses a filthy dangerous shower round the back!! Electric is by way of card and its all out of date boxes and rubbish. The canal men are miserable sarcastic and useless. Maybe they should get another job!! The turfs in a lovely spot but over priced, food and beer aimed at the rich and barstaff are a joke. Academics with no idea. Park your car to unload/load your boat and you get a idiot giving you a ticket!!! Exeter council again!!! Ferry to topsham from turf only runs till around 3pm so that's useless as well for boaters wishing to have dinner and get back to turf lock.

So to the quay you can moor up and again, facilities are horrendous, pub on the quay is overpriced and boring.
It was the worst 2 nights we had and Lyme Regis is just 100000000% better.
A lot of boaters I know have said the same but until you see it for yourself how bad it is then take my advise and give the ex and the canal a very VERY Wide berth!!!!
1 of 2 people found this helpful
Exeter Canal Office
Written by Simon J D | 14th Jul 2016
The telephone number for Exeter Canal Office has changed. It is now 01392 265791 and is answered on Mon, Tue, Wed and Fri between 09:30 and 14:30 only. The out of hours emergency number is 0845 3511060.
Update Spring 2016
Written by dononshytalk | 3rd May 2016
These notes were reviewed by Don in May 2016. We have added a link to a local survey of the approach. Your attention is drawn to our member's experience below.
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.
0 of 1 people found this helpful
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
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.
4 of 5 people found this helpful
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