Harbour Master 0191 516 1700 mob 07887 755826 VHF 12
Marina Office 0191 581 8998 mob 0758 4297326
The harbour was built here in the 1828 by the local landowner for the export of coal from his mines but within decades of being built the output from the local coal mines had outstripped the capacity of the harbour and the railways took over. This left the harbour as a mixed cargo operation (though coal was exported from the North Dock until they had to dismantle the tide gate in 1952) and it has remained as such ever since.
The harbour has an unusual design having a locked South Dock and what became a tidal North dock, all surrounded by a wave screen which is encompassed by a further set of protective walls (built in 1898) outwith that. The main, locked South Dock is given over to commercial traffic and this will have to be borne in mind when entering the harbour en route to the marina.
The North Dock fell into disuse in the mid 20th century, apart from a few fishing boats, and the historic buildings were in danger of becoming derelict. You have to remember that, when the mines closed, this area was catapulted back to the pre-industrial revolution days; it wasn’t just the harbour that suffered, but the whole region; this marina is part of that region redefining itself and it looks to be well done. The town itself is a pleasant place and very proud of the fact that Lord Byron was married here early in the 19th century; indeed, the shopping centre adjacent to the docks is called “Byron Place”. It has had a mixed history, especially during the 19century, when the coal mining industry was in its heyday and there were several pits in the area exporting through the port itself; before that it was primarily agricultural.
They have had their share of both mining disasters and maritime ones (their lifeboat sank with loss of life in 1962 attempting to rescue the crew of a cobble just outside the harbour) and the closure of the pits sent the area into an economic downslide. From a historical point of view a very good report of what happened to the Seaham Lifeboat back in 1962 can be found at:
It makes for good reading and a salutary warning for us what goes to the sea to play.
As has been said, things are looking up again and the development of the marina and the surroundings of the North dock are another step on the way to recovery. The harbour’s easy entrance (in all but bad onshore weather), new facilities and position (5 miles south of Sunderland and 11 mile North of Hartlepool) will make it a very convenient place for wandering yachties to stop.
The marina has now been operating for several years and is proving more popular for visitors than they expected. They now have a very good website with piles of information for the visiting sailor and we have given links to various pages of that website where appropriate (they are the same pages that we displayed before but have different URLs now.)
There is a limit on the size of boat they can take which 11 metres LOA and 1.8 metres draft but if you approaching those limits have a chat with the HM before entry.
You can find their website at
The approach is very simple; from our waypoint (given above) set a course of 250°T for the harbour entrance.
This should lead one North of that shallow patch a couple of cables due East of the harbour mouth. At night be very careful to identify the various red lights on display; there are the 2F.R(vert) on the portside south pierhead, the 3F.R (triangle) on the port pierhead of the inner wave screen and the F.R on the entrance to the South Dock.
Add to that the possibility of 3R (vert) shining at the marina entrance and you could easily be mistaken on a rough night. This may seem a piffling piece of advice but if you read what happened to their lifeboat only fifty years ago you will see why we mention it.
A chartlet of the harbour and the way in can be found at the website below:(right click for option to open in a new window or tab)
THe marina now listen on VHF, initial contact on #16 and a switch to #08. The harbour is on channel 12 should you encounter any commercial vessels entering/leaving. There is no requirement at the moment to contact the harbour for entry but that may well change as they develop their procedures; in the meantime a wise skipper would monitor 12 just in case!
The visitors’ berths are just inside the marina on your starboard side.....
.... but before you get to that you need to make sure you’ve done your sums.
The tide gate at the marina entrance works automatically and opens/closes at CD +2.5 metres (we provide a link to the Easytide predictions for Seaham up there on the right hand side of this site but don’t forget the hour for BST!); the marina is dredged to between CD +1 to +1.5m (the visitors berths are 1.5m and 1.2 m). We have provided a link to the marina plan below
Their charges for 2021 is still only £15 per day with reductions for a week’s stay. This is very cheap, especially when you factor in that it includes VAT and free shore power.
Entrance to the pontoons is controlled by an electronic fob which will be issued on arrival. NB if arriving out of office hours, ring ahead to make arrangements for obtaining one of these fobs.
There’s water and shore power (included in the mooring fee) on the walkways, but not the fingers, so you might need an extension to your normal cable but the marina has extra cables and hoses if required. Toilets and showers are available in the “Waterside” amenities development.
They have got 10 small industrial units alongside the marina and they are hoping that one of them may attract a chandlery (this was still on their wish list in 2021); until then Calor gas (but NOT Camping Gaz) is available at Oliver’s in the town.
Unfortunately there is no fuel here yet and it is not obtainable from the commercial dock either, so road diesel and petrol will have to be lugged in cans from the garage in the town about half a mile away. They are still hoping to provide diesel at some time in the future but as of 2019 this is still not available.
They now have a boat lift crane.
There are plenty of eateries and pubs here (but not so many as there were in the “good old days”) and you should have no trouble from a thirsty crew.
There is a café alongside the marina for your immediate needs and there is both an ASDA and an ALDIs for re-supply. Behind the Byron Place mall there is a pedestrian precinct with the usual banks and retail outlets.
Attached to the Marina they are opening an Heritage Centre and eventually you will be able to see the restored Liverpool class Lifeboat, “George Elmy” which was lost, refurbished and returned for service and eventually recovered by the people of Seaham when it was found for sale on the West Coast. You can find its story at: