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Tarbert, Lower Loch Fyne

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


55:52' N 005:24' W


Admiralty 2381

Rules & Regulations



Straight forwards Enough, but keep well clear of Madadh Maol and don't turn towards the pontoons too soon..see chart

Tidal Data Times & Range

+0120 Dover MHWS 3.4 MHWN 2.9 MLWN 1.1 MLWS 0.3   (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

Harbour Master. VHF #14; tel 01880 820334,

Tarbert Harbour nestles in the well sheltered East Loch Tarbert, a small sea loch branching off from the much larger Loch Fyne. The setting is picturesque in the extreme, with the village circling the naturally formed harbour.

The harbour is home to a small but active fishing fleet, but visiting yachtsman and motorboaters are made welcome by the harbour authorities. In late 2008 the pontoon system within the harbour was greatly extended, and continues to be extended to the extent that the marina is now the dominant development in the harbour

Entry to Tarbert is straightforward enough, and once within the visitor will find deep water and decent village facilities with the ability to fuel up alongside (not always so easy around these parts).

Although totally sheltered it is worth noting that in westerly winds squalls can descend on the harbour through the gap from West Loch Tarbert, the two lochs being separated by a narrow isthmus of land.


Their website can be found at 



East Loch Tarbert is approached by heading northwards up Lower Loch Fyne.

Loch Fyne is situated to the north of the Isle of Arran and is reached by passing through Inchmarnock Water.

East Loch Tarbert lies on the west side of Lower Loch Fyne, opposite Portavadie on the east side (with its new Marina covered separately). A ferry service links across Loch Fyne at this point.

The initial entrance to East Loch Tarbert is wide and clear. In the closer approaches Madadh Maol, a drying reef extending northwards from the south shore of the loch needs to be left well off on your port side. Its extremity is marked by a red light column (Fl.R.2.5s). Do not pass close to the light structure, there is plenty of deep water to the north of it.

Starting from a point about 100 m north of the Madadh Maol light beacon, a south westerly course will bring you through the main channel south of Eilean a'Choic (Cock Island). The channel is less than 100m wide, and is used by fishing boats, who sometimes charge through at some speed.

Reefs projecting from the south of Cock Island, are marked by a green buoy (Q.G), which needs to be left to starboard.

Once past Cock Island the new pontoons will be seen... make for these being very careful to leave a green buoy (VQ.G) well to starboard. This marks a drying rock lying about 80m WSW of Cock Island. Don't make your turn to starboard too early...

An alternative route to the north of Cock Island and the drying reefs and rocks of Sgeir Bhuidhe will be seen on the charts provided for those intrepid enough to try it. Mind you, at one time this was the preferred route into the harbour for yachtsmen, and, yes, it was interesting!

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

There are no anchoring possibilities within the harbour itself,

... the north arm of the harbour, Duhb-chaol Linne, is taken up with permanent moorings, and fringed by drying rocks at its head.

Outside the harbour,  anchorage can be had on the South side opposite the hotel situated to the west of the pier. There is only a narrow band of useful water to anchor in with the drying banks off the foreshore, and depths plunging rapidly to 16m.

Another anchoring possibility is further to the east of the pier, where a more gently shoaling area will be found directly in front of a house with a cupola. Tripline advised here.

Both these possibilities are shown on the chart.

For those wishing to use the harbour pontoons, there has been an additional long pontoon added and reference should be made to the chart,  the plan provided in our Navigation Gallery. Visitors under 12 m are accommodated on the very first pontoon you come to on the finger berths on seaward side and they now put some smaller boats way down on the end on G pontoon. (Note that each side of the legs has a different label so you don't have to get in close to work out which side your berth is on - which is always part of the fun!!)

Visitors with boats larger than 12 m are accommodated on the first two hammerheads or on the long pontoons deeper in off the town.

Contact details for the Harbour Master are as follows:
Harbour Master's Office, Garval Road, Tarbert, Argyll   PA29 6TR
Tel : 01880 820344
Fax : 01880 820719
Email: [email protected]
VHF Radio Working Channel 14

Prices on the Tarbert pontoons (2022) are £3.00per metre from the beginning of April 2022. (cf £3.30 at Portavadie) They have a promotion which gives a weeks stay for the 6 day price.


Electricity and water are available on the new pontoons. The toilet and shower facility was replaced in 2018/19 and there is now a combined amenities/chandlery/office block here with much improved amenities. They now have a laundrette.

There is also a pump out facility here now.

Diesel is available at the Fish Quay, as are Calor Gas and Camping Gaz 907s. Hardware shops and garages will be found around the village.

Sailmaking and rigging  are available at W.B Leitch in the harbour. There is also a local boat builder. That sailmaker once dropped what he was doing and put a patch in my mainsail in a couple of hours back in 1996 - and only charged me £10 (come to think of it - it's still there now, must be about time for a new sail!!)

The village boasts a bank, a post office, food and provisioning including a co-op, plus various arts and crafts shops. Early closing is Wednesday which is still observed by some shops but rest assured, the Co-Op (nearest shop) now opens from 0700 to 2200 seven days a week.

Transport is covered by a bus to Glasgow, and the ferry that runs across Lower Loch Fyne to Portavadie.

Tarbert Fair is held annually, commencing on the last Thursday of July every year. This has to be one of the oldest fairs going and has been held since 1705. Originally a cattle fair, but now with music, gatherings, amusements and funfair rides. A visit to Tarbert at this time would probably be well rewarded.... best to book your berth in advance though.


East Loch Tarbert, Argyll is a small sea loch on the eastern side of the Kintyre peninsula in Scotland. It is a part of the much larger Loch Fyne. The village of Tarbert lies along the shores of the loch, which is separated from West Loch Tarbert by an isthmus only 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) long.

This sheltered loch became an important landing place for herring fishermen from at least AD 836 when it was mentioned in the Annals of Ulster.

According to Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway, had his longship dragged across this isthmus as part of a campaign to increase his possessions in the Hebrides. He made an arrangement with King Malcolm III of Scotland that he could take possession of land on the west coast around which a ship could sail. Magnus declared that Kintyre had "better land than the best of the Hebrides", and by taking command of his ship's tiller and "sailing" across the isthmus he was able to claim the entire peninsula, which remained under Norse rule for more than a dozen years as a result.

More than two centuries later Robert the Bruce completed a similar feat during the Scottish Wars of Independence in order to impress the clan chieftains of Argyll. He used tree trunks as rollers.

In the 18th century Thomas Pennant recorded that sea-going vessels of up to 10 tonnes (9.8 long tons) were being hauled over the isthmus in order to avoid the dangers of storms and tidal races in the seas surrounding the Mull of Kintyre. James Watt surveyed the area and decided that it was feasible to construct a canal between the two lochs. Some 60 years later it was estimated that the cost for a cut without locks would be £90,000 but delays in implementation and the construction of the Crinan canal in 1801 rendered the plan redundant.

In the modern era the Tarbert (Loch Fyne) Harbour Commissioners control the loch, an area defined as "from the point of Garvell on the North, to the Oakenhead or Rudha Loigste point on the South". There are various quays and slipways in the inner harbour and 80 pontoon berths for yachts and other leisure craft.

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

Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

With the village of Tarbert clustered around the harbour, the hungry and thirsty mariner won't have to go far or spend that much time in research...

Various cafes and a fish bar are close at hand, and for those looking for a more substantial meal maybe washed down with a wee dram there is also plenty of choice...

The Anchorage restaurant overlooks the harbour and specialises in locally caught seafood, while the Anchor Hotel also specialises in seafood and local products. The Tarbert Hotel offers bar meals and dining room, whilst being family friendly.

There are, of course, plenty of other hotels serving food in Tarbert and you won't have to wander far from the boat to find a decent meal. What you won't find in Tarbert is fast food...

Followers of Para Handy will remember that this was one of his favourite watering holes and often found it "necessary" to delay here!

This local site provides much useful information about the town:

Tarbert Loch Fyne | Visitor and Tourist Information


Your Ratings & Comments

Written by Don Thomson 3 | 24th Aug 2022
I reviewed these notes in August 2022. I cannot disagree with the skipper below - the changes they have wrought over the years is marvellous and the sailmakers is still here. And, if you are so inclined there is still the option of dropping in to shop and then nipping across to the other side of the loch and spend a night with the otters.
Great value
Written by Grr | 24th Mar 2022
The value here is excellent.
The price for visitor berthing includes both electricity and showers, unlike many marinas,
And the shower/toilet block is the best of any marina I have visited.
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 26th Jul 2021
I reviewed these notes in July 2021. The facilities have improved here over the last few years; the chandlery is well stocked, the showers and toilets are much improved. Additionally they have laundrette facilities and include Camping Gaz 907s in their supplies. They are cheaper than some other places on Loch Fyne.
Update Summer 2019
Written by Don Thomson 3 | 5th Jul 2019
These notes were reviewed in July 2019. The text has been edited to include the new amenities block along with the new office and pump out facility. The new prices have been added.
Written by Mike and Lynda | 8th May 2019
New toilet and shower block now open.
Regular Rallies
Written by SeaFury | 15th Aug 2017
If you are the kind of sailor that likes a quiet harbour it would be wise to ask if they have any rallies planned. I experienced loud base music from a private party in the semi permanent nearby marquee (1400 - 2300)
I understand from the HM that this is a regular occurrence at weekends.
2 of 2 people found this helpful
Written by Don Thomson | 19th Apr 2017
I reviewed these notes in April 2017. The price stays at £2.50 pmpn but the really good news is that they hope to start the new toilets later this summer. Be aware that on the weekend of June 3rd and 4th there will be nearly 100 yachts visiting Tarbert so they are fully booked that weekend.
Update 2015 Further
Written by dononshytalk | 22nd Apr 2015
I'm afraid that they are still trying to get funding for the new amenities building, so we're stuck with what has been there for a while now.
Update 2015
Written by dononshytalk | 10th Apr 2015
These notes were reviewed by Don in April 2015. We have updated prices. Please note that the Green Conical buoy to the SW of Cock Rock has been moved slightly eastwards. We understand that there are plans in place for a new amenities block here but have been unable to ascertain when they hope to have them completed.
0 of 1 people found this helpful
Harbour Toilets
Written by Super ted | 28th Apr 2014
I love visiting Tarbert harbour BUT you would think that with the size of the harbour and the amount of visiting boats they would spend the money to upgrade the *well used* old toilet block. Foe me it is the the only downfall to the place. Please bring this harbour into the 21st century!
Tarbert Harbour
Written by Boatguy136 | 11th Sep 2013
I've been visiting Tarbert on boats for many years, and have recently berthed our boat here on a more or less permanent basis. Friendly people, good pubs & food. Harbour rot sets in quite quickly!
Northern Lights.
Tarbert saved my sanity
Written by johnnyseagull | 31st Mar 2013
The day had been almost windless but damp. Four hours of 'soft rain' as I headed for Portavadie had sapped my enthusiasm and sopped my clothes and feet. A last minute course change to Tarbert in time to buy a fan heater in the town was one of my better ideas. Dried off and with a large fish supper in me this delightful town has won me over. I stopped here again on the way back.
Johnny Seagull
1 of 1 people found this helpful
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 7th Mar 2013
These notes were updated by Don T on the 7th of March 2013. Prices have been updated for the 2013 season and a link to their website included. The facilities here have been much improved since the beginning of this century - whether you consider this to be good or bad depends on your point of view!
2 of 2 people found this helpful
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