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Sunderland (North Dock, Marina)

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


Entrance 54:55'.3 N 001:21'.0 W


Admiralty 1627

Rules & Regulations

6 Knts Speed Limit in Harbour


Unmarked Shallows to SE of Harbour

Tidal Data Times & Range

APPROX HW Dover +0425 MHWS 5.2m, MHWN 4.2m, MLWN 2.0m, MLWS 0.8m   (links)

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General Description

With the decline of the coal trade and shipbuilding, Sunderland......

.... has turned itself into a commercial port handling bulk cargoes, containers, steel, etc, while also providing ship repairs and engineering. The visiting yachtsman or motorboater is also catered for in the smaller North Dock, with Marina facilities. It is simple to enter, in pleasant surroundings close to the main entrance of the port, has good maintained depths, and no locks to contend with.

The Marina is about a mile away from the city centre but there are regular bus services, and just outside the Marina there are various pubs, shops and a decent beach.

In common with most of the harbours on this coast, entry should not be attempted by small craft in strong onshore conditions.


Sunderland is very conspicuous from seawards being built on high ground.....

..... and has it's fair share of tower blocks. The huge stone breakwaters are also conspicuous, as is the lighthouse on the northern one (Fl.5s.25m23M), being over 75' tall.

Approach is clear and straightforward from all directions except for the unlit and unmarked Hendon Rock. This lies to the south-east of the present harbour entrance, and just a bit over half mile eastwards of the old South entrance to the docks. This patch has less than 1 m at CD, so any kind of approach from this direction at LW should be cautious. There is a Tall White disused Lighthouse about 3/4 mile north of the harbour. A line from this, through the lighthouse on the North wave barrier (Roker Pier) gives a clearing line outside Hendon Rock - but it's a tad close!

More Pilotage Details...

Keeping in depths of 15 m or more until the harbour mouth bears due West clears this for sure.

The only other thing worth noting is that there is underwater debris extending from the end of the New South Pier... this is marked by a red can buoy which needs to be left to port.

Traffic signals are displayed on the Old North Pier adjacent to the North Dock Basin, three flashing red lights displayed vertically mean no entry or departure. No lights displayed in this location mean entry is permitted.

If in any doubt the harbour master is on VHF channel 14.

Once in the head straight for the Marina in the North Dock, and they operate 24 hours on VHF channel 37 (M), callsign Sunderland Marina.  Phone 01915 144721, and a link to their website is provided below:

Visitors | Sunderland Marina

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

The Marina consists of lots of fore and aft moorings.......

..... plus fully serviced pontoon berths. Minimum depths are well over 2 m and there are no locks to negotiate... very straightforward.

Visitors will be accommodated on the serviced pontoons, berth where directed.

Mooring fees (2022) are £27 for one night for a 10 meter boat - reducing to £18 for a 6 metre

Updated March 2022


Water and electricity (prepaid card) are available on the pontoons, and there is good security with CCTV.

Good showers, washrooms and toilets (with heating) are close to the berths.

Diesel fuel is available 24 hours a day, but really the only facility for boats here is a half tide shelf for a bit of underwater maintenance. In spite of all the shipbuilding experience from the past, small craft facilities are thin on the ground.

The Marine Activities Center which runs the Marina offer all kinds of shorebased and practical courses.

The Marina has a concrete slipway for trailer sailers which is available at all states of the tide. An annual pass to use this is £100, and jetskis are welcome. You will have to contact the Marina (details already given) to find out if they will handle casual launching.

There is a very small news/convenience store nearby but serious stocking up from a supermarket will involve about a mile and a half's hike, to reach Sainsbury's or Morrisons which are both well to the North of the yacht harbour. This is also in the direction the seaside resort of Seaburn. Various local shops will be found in Roker nearby.

Local buses run to the city, and the railway station is situated on the Durham Coast Line served by direct Northern Rail services to Newcastle upon Tyne, Hartlepool, Stockton and Middlesbrough, as well as further afield to Hexham, Carlisle and the Gateshead MetroCentre. These services run hourly in each direction.

In 2006, Grand Central Railway announced plans to operate a direct service between Sunderland and London King's Cross via York. A scaled-down service of one train each day began in December 2007. The service increased to three departures daily each way on 1 March 2008, connecting a line which can run from Edinburgh to London. The service has proved so popular that a fourth direct train will commence in June 2009.


Sunderland is a city in Tyne & Wear, England. It was formerly a county borough but now forms part of the City of Sunderland. It is situated at the mouth of the River Wear.

The name "Sunderland" is reputed to come from Soender-land (soender/sunder being the Anglo-Saxon infinitive, meaning "to part", 'sønder' means "chopped" in modern Danish), likely to be reference to the valley carved by the River Wear that runs through the heart of the city. Another meaning is that of the name referring to 'land set aside', derived from the rich Christian heritage of the city.

Historically a part of County Durham, there were three original settlements on the site of modern-day Sunderland. On the north side of the river, Monkwearmouth was settled in 674 when Benedict Biscop founded the Wearmouth-Jarrow monastery. Opposite the monastery on the south bank, Bishopwearmouth was founded in 930. A small fishing village called Sunderland, located toward the mouth of the river (modern day East End) was granted a charter in 1179.

Over the centuries, Sunderland grew as a port, trading coal and salt. Ships began to be built on the river in the 14th century. By the 19th century, the port of Sunderland had grown to absorb Bishopwearmouth and Monkwearmouth. In 2008 it was revealed that Sunderland had the highest percentage of broadband users and digital television users in the entire United Kingdom, with 66% having both services, well above the national average of 57%

A person who is born or lives around the Sunderland area is known as a Mackem.

Victoria Hall Disaster

The Victoria Hall was a large concert hall on Toward Road facing onto Mowbray Park. The Hall was the scene of a tragedy on June 16, 1883 when 183 children died. During a variety show, children rushed towards a staircase for treats. At the bottom of the staircase, the door had been opened inward and bolted in such a way as to leave only a gap wide enough for one child to pass at a time. The children surged down the stairs toward the door. Those at the front became trapped, and were crushed by the weight of the crowd behind them.

With the asphyxiation of 183 children aged between three and 14, the disaster is the worst of its kind in British history. The memorial, of a grieving mother holding a dead child, is currently located in Mowbray Park with a protective canopy. Newspaper reports at the time triggered a mood of national outrage and the resulting inquiry recommended that public venues be fitted with a minimum number of outward opening emergency exits, which led to the invention of 'push bar' emergency doors. This law still remains in full force to this day. The Victoria Hall remained in use until 1941 when it was destroyed by a German bomb.

Ship building and coal mining

Once famously hailed as the "Largest Shipbuilding Town in the World", ships were built on the Wear from at least 1346 onwards and by the mid-eighteenth century Sunderland was one of the chief shipbuilding towns in the country. The Port of Sunderland was significantly expanded in the 1850s with the construction of Hudson Dock to designs by River Wear Commissioner's Engineer John Murray, with consultancy by Robert Stephenson. One famous vessel was the Torrens, the clipper in which Joseph Conrad sailed, and on which he began his first novel. As Basil Lubbock states, Torrens was one of the most successful ships ever built, besides being one of the fastest, and for many years was the favourite passenger ship to Adelaide. She was one of the most famous ships of her time and can claim to be the finest ship ever launched from a Sunderland yard. She was built in ten months by James Laing at his Deptford yard on the Wear in 1875.

Between 1939 and 1945 the Wear yards launched 245 merchant ships totalling 1.5 million tons, a quarter of the merchant tonnage produced in the UK at this period. Competition from overseas caused a downturn in demand for Sunderland built ships toward the end of the twentieth century. The last shipyard in Sunderland closed in 1988.

Sunderland, part of the Durham coalfield, has a coal-mining heritage that dates back centuries. At the peak in 1923, 170,000 miners were employed in County Durham alone, as labourers from all over Britain, including many from Scotland and Ireland, entered the region. As demand for coal slipped following World War II, mines began to close across the region, causing mass unemployment. The last coal mine closed in 1994. The site of the last coal mine, Wearmouth Colliery, is now occupied by the Stadium of Light, and a miner's Davy lamp monument stands outside of the ground to honour the heritage of the site.


Since the mid 1980's Sunderland has undergone massive regeneration, particularly around the central business district and the river corridor.

In the mid 1980's, Sunderland's economic situation began to improve following the collapse of shipbuilding in the town. In addition to the giant Nissan car factory opened in 1986, new service industries moved in to sites such as the Doxford International Business Park in the south west of the city, attracting a host of national and international companies. Sunderland was named in the shortlist of the top seven "intelligent cities" in the world for the use of Information Technology, in both 2004 and 2005.

The former shipyard areas along the Wear were transformed with a mixture of residential, commercial and leisure facilities including St. Peter's Campus of the University of Sunderland, University accommodation along the Fish Quay on the South side of the river, the North Haven housing and marina development, the National Glass Centre, the Stadium of Light and Hylton Riverside Retail Park. Also in 2007, the Echo 24 luxury apartments opened on Pann's Bank overlooking the river. In 2008 the Sunderland Aquatic Centre opened adjacent to the Stadium of Light, containing the only Olympic-size swimming pool between Leeds and Edinburgh.

In 2000, the The Bridges shopping centre was extended towards Crowtree Road and the former Central Bus Station, attracting national chain stores such as Debenhams, H&M and Gap. This was followed by adjacent redevelopments on Park Lane.

Sunderland Corporation's massive post-war housing estate developments, such as Farringdon, Pennywell and Grindon have all passed into the ownership of Gentoo (previously 'Sunderland Housing Group'), a private company and a Registered Social Landlord. Since the housing stock transfer in 2000 there have been considerable improvements to the quality of social housing in the city.

In 2004, redevelopment work began on the Sunniside area of the east-end of the city centre, including a multiplex cinema, a multi-storey car park, restaurants, a casino and tenpin bowling. Originally called the River Quarter, the site was renamed Limelight in 2005, and then was renamed again in 2008, when it became Sunniside Lesuire. Aside from the leisure site, Sunniside Gardens were landscaped, and a number of new cafes, bars and restaurants were opened. Up-market residential apartments were developed, including the Echo 24 building

The text on this HISTORY page is covered by the following licence

Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

At the Marina there is an Italian restaurant, and a licensed bar of the Wear Boating Association. A coffee shop/gift shop completes the picture here. Hmmm...

Maybe the hungry and thirsty crew might have to look a bit further afield. As already mentioned a recce outside the Marina will throw up the local pubs (and shops) in Roker, and a bit further afield the little resort of Seaburn.

City Centre aficionados can hop on a local bus and be rewarded with untold choices, the links below may give some ideas:



Restaurants & Places to Eat in Sunderland - Tripadvisor


Your Ratings & Comments

Up date May 2023
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 30th May 2023
We've added a possible clearing bearing for the Hendon Rock; would appreciate any comment
Update June 2022
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 16th Jun 2022
I reviewed these notes in June 2022. Only change is to the tariff.
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 10th May 2021
I reviewed these notes in May 2021. No changes, not even prices!
Update Spring 2019
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 23rd Apr 2019
I reviewed these notes in April 2019. Note that the "pleasant 15 minute stroll" to Morrisons along the seafront is not; it's a good 1.5 miles and more like half an hour each way. I've posted new charts
Written by Don Thomson | 31st Mar 2017
These notes were reviewed by Don in March 2017. Prices have gone up a little, otherwise no changes
Update 2015
Written by dononshytalk | 12th Mar 2015
These notes were reviewed by Don in March 2015. The prices changed in 2014 but remain the same for 2015
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 11th Apr 2013
These notes were updated by Don T on the 11th April 2013. No changes and prices were updated for the 2013 season
Tom Webb, around Britain on a 21' Beneteau 2011
Written by Tom Webb Sailing | 31st Oct 2011
17/7 - Sunderland (& my 18th birthday!) – Sunderland is a great stop off port, entrance is marked very clearly in between two breakwaters and there is a massive space between the marina and entrance to take down sails or prepare to go moor up. There are mooring buoys outside the marina but once inside there is plenty of pontoons to choose from. The marina itself is a charity and the staff are very friendly and accommodating.
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