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Liverpool (Approaches, Docks and Marina)

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


Approaches to the Queens Channel 53:31' N 003:20' W


Admiralty 3490, 1951, 1978

Rules & Regulations



Training Banks, Fierce Tides

Tidal Data Times & Range

HW= Dover+ 0015 Gladstone Dock: MHWS 9.2m, MHWN 7.3m, MLWN 2.9m, MLWS 0.8m   (links)

This site is designed for slower, roaming broadband connections, like you would get at sea, so it needs JavaScript enabled to expand the text.

General Description

Liverpool VTS  0151 9496134/5  VHF #12
Liverpool Marina 0151 7076777 VHF#37(M)

Liverpool is a magnificent city with a rich maritime history, far more concerned with big ships and cargoes rather than small craft. The Marina that sprang up a good few years ago in Brunswick and Coburg docks has dramatically improved the situation for a visitor on a small boat. There has been much regeneration around the waterfront centred on Albert Dock, the Maritime Museum, and the Tate Gallery.

The city itself is well worth investigating, known for its ethnic diversity, with a large Chinatown area. Absolutely all major stores and banks will be found, plus excellent transport links including it's international airport. Liverpudlians are well-known for their wicked sense of humour, which you may well encounter..

The big problem for the waterborne visitor to the marina used to be its isolation. There were no ancilliary services nearby and no public transport to those further away. Added to that was the fact that the area outside the marina was fairly run down.
Having spent a good while working on a boat here in the mid 90s I found the immediate outside environment to be a real eye-opener. Maybe things have changed for the better by now.

Update 2013

In fact, that has all changed; the derelict sites have now been developed and the area abounds with blocks of des res apartments overlooking the River Mersey; there is a modern hotel nearby and, just up the road from that, a Casino! There is now a chandlery close by and the marina staff will be able to direct you to that. The rest of what is available will be dealt with below in the appropriate sections.

You MUST book in advance

For details of the new Burbo Bank windfarm under construction to the West of Liverpool click on this link Windfarm Alert


Approaches to Liverpool by motorboat or yacht are made down the Queen's Channel,

........ the Crosby Channel, and the River Mersey following the same route as the heavy shipping.

The channels are all well marked by numbered and lit buoyage (in fact the buoys are more like little ships themselves... to cope with the strong tides). A glance over the charts will show that this buoyage MUST be followed, there is no chance of lurking outside the channel in shallow water. Tim Spalding tried this in his barge, Matilda, and by the looks of it he was heading towards the shallows outside the channel and got sent back!!

The channel runs between tall training banks that channel the scouring effects of the tide to keep the deep water approaches to Liverpool open. These training banks must not be crossed even at high water. The construction of these training walls must have taken enormous manpower and ingenuity.

More pilotage details:

In the approach to the Queen's Channel, strong onshore winds especially when combined with an outflowing tide can cause breaking seas dangerous to small craft. In these conditions it is best not to approach at all.

Locals sometimes use the Rock Channel just north of New Brighton. There is a gap in the training wall here, and for a small craft it's a shortcut out to sea, BUT it is not buoyed in any way, and should only be attempted with local knowledge.  There are at least a dozen charted wrecks around this short cut - so you are warned!!  In fact, if you look for them, you will find that there are also an awful lot of wrecks sitting on the banks that border the Queens Channel and other close banks so careful navigation and up-to-date charts are a must.

Upon approach to the Queen's Channel and onwards monitor VHF channel 12 for Mersey Radio who deal with the traffic reports, navigational warnings and weather.

Any kind of visit to Liverpool needs to take into account the power of the tides running in the Mersey and the approach channels. These can reach 5 kn at Springs, and that could be a conservative estimate. I have seen yachts sailing forwards but moving backwards, and small coasters pushing forwards with big bow waves remain in the same spot for over an hour. Do not underestimate.

Assuming more benign weather it is necessary to time your arrival at Brunswick Dock Lock for two hours either side of high water. Better to arrive a bit early and lurk about stemming the tide than a desperate struggle against a rapidly increasing ebbtide. For locking times see 
Livepool Marina | Lock Times | (

The lock serves the marina and the boatyard and other parts of the docks so, to avoid confusion, you should call the Marina by phone in advance and advise them of your intentions to tie up there.  They will then advise the lock and you will not be charged locking fees. We enquired about our member's (Marion C ) being charged for locking and they were non-plussed. It would appear that, unless the lock keeper has you on his list of visiting boats for the day he will asssume otherwise.

Upon approach to the Marina and the Brunswick lock, call them up on VHF channel 37 (M), callsign "Liverpool Marina." They will give you instructions for the lock.

Brunswick Dock lies about a mile past the Liver Building on your port side, with the entrance being opposite the westerly cardinal Pluckington Bank buoy.

The lock is controlled by standard signals (three vertically arranged red/green lights), with the lock control building overlooking the whole scene.

Upon entry to the lock you will find floating pontoons to secure to on either side. The lock is easily big enough for vessels of 20m, maybe more. See the photo gallery.

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

Once within Liverpool Marina, as described above,

........marina staff will direct you to a pontoon. Very large craft sometimes lie alongside the dock walls.

Prices in this Marina (2022) work out at £2.75 per metre per day or £16.50 pm per week (this includes the locking charges), with reducing rates for longer stays.That price is inclusive of VAT but shore power is paid by card. A link to their website is provided below:

If any reason you miss the locking in period at the Marina, your options are very limited. Although there is plenty of room outside of the channels near the marina, any kind of anchoring in the extremely strong tides is fraught with danger.

There are various small craft moorings laid off New Brighton and you may be able to find one vacant for a temporary stop. Alternatively it may be possible to anchor outside of the channel in this area. In particular the entrance to the already mentioned (local knowledge only) Rock Channel is entered via Rock Gut, just north of New Brighton and adjacent to the green light float "Brazil".

The fully competent skipper, with complete confidence in his anchoring gear may be able to squeeze out of the main tidal flow and remain afloat. Large scale charts will be essential, as the training wall is close by.


All the normal Marina facilities are available, with water and electricity on all pontoons, toilets and showers ashore.  They have new toilets and showers

Boats of up to 60 tonnes can be lifted, with limited storage ashore in the boatyard. The Marina has arrangements with a local shipwright Steve Roberts to organise repair works within the yard. He now has a full chandlery shop.

Charts and navigational equipment should be no problem in Liverpool, with DPM used to supplying chart portfolios for ships worldwide (City centre waterfront).

The marina supplies diesel fuel but petrol has to be obtained in cans from a garage on Sefton Street (about 2 cables as the crow flies but over half a mile round the houses from the dock gate so you'll need your trolley) That garage also has a Spar shop co-located for immediate domestic needs. There is also a fairly large Londis futher along that road. 

The nearest supermarkets are in Toxteth, half an hour's walk away, so you will need a cab. You may be able to cadge a lift from one of the Marina residents... the locals are friendly.

There is a bus stop outside the marina where buses can be caught to the middle of the city but the last bus back may be early evening.

Transport wise Liverpool is well connected, InterCity trains from Lime Street connect with many cities including London. John Lennon airport has national and international flights. Both are a good cab ride from the Marina.


Historically a part of Lancashire, the urbanisation and expansion of Liverpool were broadly brought about by the city's status as a major port. By the 18th century, trade from the West Indies, Ireland and mainland Europe coupled with close links with the Atlantic Slave Trade furthered the economic expansion of Liverpool. By the early 19th century, 40% of the world's trade passed through Liverpool's docks, contributing to Liverpool's rise as a major city.

Inhabitants of Liverpool are referred to as Liverpudlians but are also known as "Scousers", in reference to the local dish known as "scouse", a form of stew. The word "Scouse" has also become synonymous with the Liverpool accent and dialect. Liverpool's status as a port city has contributed to its diverse population, which draws from a wide range of peoples, cultures, and religions, particularly those from Ireland.

The popularity of The Beatles and the other groups from the Merseybeat era contributes to Liverpool's status as a tourist destination; tourism forms a significant part of the city's modern economy. In 2007 the city celebrated its 800th anniversary, and in 2008 it held the European Capital of Culture title together with Stavanger, Norway.

Tourism is a major factor in the economy and this has led to a great increase in the provision of high quality services such as hotels, restaurants and clubs. The buildings of Liverpool also attract film makers, who regularly use Liverpool to double for cities around the world and making it the second most filmed city in the UK. Liverpool is also one of the few cities in the world where cruise liners can berth in the city centre, and from 2008 a significant number of ships will either set sail or call at Liverpool's cruise liner terminal, including the Grand Princess, and the QE2. Large naval ships coming in to dock also draw large crowds on sunny days. Liverpool and its boroughs have a large number of sandy beaches accessible by Merseyrail, which prove popular in the summer months.


In 2002, 716,000 passengers used the Port of Liverpool, with the Isle of Man and Ireland being the two most important passenger routes, goods trade which was very low in the past decades, is growing up now. Together, the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal offer a comprehensive range of port facilities, handling more than 40 million tonnes of cargo and 15,000 ship movements a year – making the River Mersey Britain's third busiest estuary.

The Port and Canal form the "green" gateway to an economy of more than 120,000 industrial and commercial enterprises and a population equal to that of greater London.

The Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal are now as one under the banner of Peel Ports, the UK's second largest ports group.

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

Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

The visiting Mariner will probably avail himself of the marina's Bar and Grill, right on site but, as has been said, there are buses available though you will probably have to organise a cab for a night out on the town.

For those into yacht racing, it may be worth checking out Liverpool Yacht Club who have premises at Coburg Docks. A link to their site is provided below:

There is no point in trying to explain the diversity of what you will find, suffice to say there are pubs and restaurants for all tastes and pockets in Liverpool.

There is little point in us providing links covering what's available, as the range is too huge (140+pubs), and the area too wide.


Your Ratings & Comments

Written by Don Thomson 3 | 15th Sep 2022
I reviewed these notes in September 2022. I believe they have sorted the amenities and the prices have increased.
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 9th Aug 2021
I reviewed these notes in August 2021. Firstly, the charge of £2.50 per metre per night includes the locking fee but only if you are tying up at the Marina. It would appear that our member below appeared out of the blue and called on an unpublished frequency (The Port is on #12 and the Marina /lock on #37 - I can find no reference to #14 anywhere in the books) The shower block is in the process of being upgraded. You must book in advance.
Liverpool marina: lock fees and no response on 14 channel
Written by Marion.c | 30th Apr 2019
I spent a few nights in Liverpool Marina in april 2019. The showers are not super well maintained (but there is hot water). They charge a fee for the lock which is between 20-25pound each way in addition to the berthing fee of 2.5pound per meter which we weren't advised when we contacted the lock operator and their general conditions couldn't be found on their website. This made our stay quite expensive.Upon arrival the marina didn't answered our VHF calls on channel 14 and 16. We got in touch with the lock operator through channel 37 and we were told to berth our boat anywhere and come to the office to find a spot... Otherwise the staff is nice, but we are a bit wondering if this marina is familiar with visitors with these high locking fees and absent VHF usage.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Written by Don Thomson | 18th Apr 2018
There is good advice below if you want to go past the Marina, further upriver. Nothing to add, even the prices have remained the same.
Tidal Streams
Written by Bryant | 8th Mar 2017
Streams in the lower part of the estuary can run at up to 5 knots on big springs, not maximum 4 knots as stated.

Higher up the estuary, I very strongly suspect (and I am a local sailing man of many decades standing) that the streams are at least as strong in the Garston Channel, but there is little charted data.

Between Garston and Hale Head the streams can sometimes run at up to 6 knots, but are heavily dependent on the bathymetry of the bottom, which changes frequently.

Between Hale Head and Widnes the tidal waveform is a pronounced sawtooth, leading to very strong streams (and sometimes even a bore) on the flood. At Widnes itself there is on springs a 10 hour ebb, and the entire flood comes in during a period of only about 2 hours.

Wind against tide conditions can produce almost vertical walls of water in stronger winds, both in the main channels and (for different reasons) over the banks; but in light winds the water can be utterly benign.

Info from Mr O.Shaw
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Update Spring 2016
Written by dononshytalk | 13th Apr 2016
These notes were reviewed by Don in April 2016. No changes were made. Please note that as far as we can ascertain if you bus into Liverpool and want to spend the evening there you will need a cab back.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 22nd Feb 2013
These notes were updated by Don T on the 22nd February 2013. Much has changed since we first wrote about this place; the environment has changed and the facilities improved inside and outside the marina. Local bus services have also improved. The prices have been updated for the 2013 season.
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Update on facilities
Written by MissMack | 2nd Dec 2011
"Hi guys can I offer some corrections relating to information provided on the site.

Red diesel is available at Liverpool Marina from a refuelling pontoon.

There is a new garage/supermarket on Sefton Street where basic
provisioning could be undertaken (about a 15 minute stroll from the

Hope this helps.



4 of 4 people found this helpful
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