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Portishead lock

agi

New member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
5
Hello!

I'm completely new to boating so please forgive any silly questions.

I am planning ditching my habit for fast cars and am instead getting my first boat in time for next season and am trying to get ahead of the detail as much as I can. We're either getting a 34-40ft flybridge or a similar sized sports cruiser - still to be decided.

I'm currently trying to work out where I'd keep her. I live in Chepstow, and I think I've narrowed it down to Portishead or Penarth. I thought about going up the river, but I don't like the idea of being x hours from open water and I understand the Severn can be quite a challenge the further up you go.

I had pretty much decided on Portishead as it's a closer drive and I like the surrounding area better than Penarth. With that said, can anyone help me with these questions?

* I've visited Portishead 3 times this year. Each time, the lock was broken - last time was on the bank holiday just gone. Have I just been exceptionally unlucky?
* I am looking at the Portishead locking times for 2020. Today, lock outs are 0730, 0830, 0900, 1300 & 1400 and that's it until tonight. So if I want to leave at 1000, I have to wait until 1pm? And if I want to come back before dark, I have to be back before 2pm or I'm stuffed? Am I reading this right?
* I can't find locking times for Penarth, but it does have a lock?
* Is there another marina in the area that has fuel, water, electricity & 24x7 access to the sea? I'm guessing not - it's tidal, I know that. I'm just wondering if I'm missing something. A FOAF had a boat years ago and he kept her in Poole even though he lived near Bristol? I can't think of why anyone would do that? Is this typical?
* Penarth is marginally more expensive than Portishead even though they're both owned by the same company - what am I not seeing at Penarth to justify that?
* Fuel is at cost to members at both marinas - does anyone know what this cost is - I can't find it listed anywhere? This won't sway me - I'm just curious!

Sorry, if any of these questions are silly - I've done my VHF and am doing my RYA Helmsman @ Portishead later this month - but as you can see, I'm struggling with some of the fundamentals!

Thanks
Paul
 

BenMurphy

Member
Joined
7 Jan 2020
Messages
51
Location
Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay (where Penarth marina is) is probably a better bet for you. There are 2 marinas (including Penarth) and 2 yacht clubs. You have 24-hour access to the channel.

Portishead I believe only has access something like 3-4 hours either side of high water, depending on if it's springs or neaps, as it's much further up the channel and very tidal up there. So yes you'd have to plan your trips carefully or be prepared to anchor outside for a few hours if you miss the lock times. Also you're a bit more restricted on locations to visit (i.e. it's only really downstream that you have available to you).

All marinas in Cardiff Bay require you to lock-in through Cardiff Barrage, with lock-outs on the hour and half past, and lock-outs at quarter past and quarter to. It runs 24/7 though.

Also from Cardiff you have a lot better options for day-sails and overnights. On a motor boat you'll be able to head down to Swansea in no time at all - it would be a much longer trip down channel from Portishead. You also have Mermaid Quay within the bay - lots of restaurants and bars and it offers pay-and-display pontoons.

I have one of those boats with flappy bits of fabric and a big stick, but for what it's worth I do like Cardiff Bay, and I would recommend Cardiff Bay Yacht Club.
 
Last edited:

agi

New member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
5
Aaaaahhh... thanks Ben. I assumed if there was a lock, it wouldn't be 24x7. Silly assumption. Penny dropped! Probably explains why Penarth marina is a little more expensive. I'll take a look at Cardiff Bay Yacht Club - thanks!
 

BenMurphy

Member
Joined
7 Jan 2020
Messages
51
Location
Cardiff Bay
Aaaaahhh... thanks Ben. I assumed if there was a lock, it wouldn't be 24x7. Silly assumption. Penny dropped! Probably explains why Penarth marina is a little more expensive. I'll take a look at Cardiff Bay Yacht Club - thanks!
No problem. Have a look at all of them. Penarth Marina is probably the "most luxurious" of the lot. There's also Cardiff Marina, Cardiff Bay Yacht Club and Cardiff Yacht Club (very similarly named!)
 
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bitbaltic

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Joined
21 Nov 2011
Messages
2,311
Location
Boat in Milford Haven
Aaaaahhh... thanks Ben. I assumed if there was a lock, it wouldn't be 24x7. Silly assumption. Penny dropped! Probably explains why Penarth marina is a little more expensive. I'll take a look at Cardiff Bay Yacht Club - thanks!
all of the marinas in the Bristol Channel have locks*. You need to consider this as they will be your destinations whichever you choose as a home port.

Penarth is inside Cardiff Bay so as Ben says is locked through the barrage. Cardiff Bay is the only all-tide lock in the inner channel (ie, the only port which is therefore a 24/7 port of refuge for you, except occasionally on the very lowest tides). Penarth also has its own lock between the marina and the bay: this is rarely used but sometimes comes into play if river levels in the Bay are different to the marina.

whatever the state of tide, from Penarth you can always go sailing/cruising into the Bay itself. So you can use your boat 24/7in the bay or at sea. This is why Penarth is more expensive than Portishead (facilities are otherwise no better).

As Ben says there are yacht club options inside the bay as well, and another (Cardiff) marina. They may have waiting lists and may have variable provision of water and electricity to your berth.

*the only marina in the BC that does not have a lock is Neyland in Milford Haven, but only it’s lower basin provides all-tide access. Milford Haven Marina is now the second locked marina, after the Cardiff Barrage, offering locks 24/7 after reconfiguration a few years ago. The constraints of all of this is why it is not unusual for people to live in the area but keep boats on the south coast where tidal ranges are low and access problems less common.
 

rgsmg53

Member
Joined
1 Sep 2014
Messages
101
Location
Portishead
I'm a Portishead annual berth holder and have been for a number of years.

Firstly, I'm not sure you were reading the lock-in/out times correctly. After the first 3 lock-out times given, they are every 30 mins with the lock-ins 15 mins later. Look on the (now awful) Portishead Marina website under 'Getting Here' and you will find them in Excel spreadsheets covering to the end of the year at least.

Secondly, lock reliability. This is a real concern to all berth holders (although personally I have not yet been inconvenienced by it). For years under Quay Marinas, the locks were 100% reliable with a well advertised annual (?) maintenance closure in the winter. Now Dean & Readyhof have taken over it seems that lock reliability has become a real issue. No doubt someone will claim it is just an unhappy coincidence but there were two key personnel changes around the time of the takeover and I can't help wondering whether some lock expertise disappeared with them. D&R are Southampton-based and I'm not sure they really understand locks!

I'm surprised that Penarth is now more expensive than Portishead. It always used to be slightly cheaper. Again, another unwelcome change with Dean & Readyhof is increased berthing costs and loss of prompt payment discounts. If you're a motor-boater then there probably isn't a great deal of difference between Portishead and Penarth except Portishead is further up channel. I live in Portishead so the decision was easy for me and I am prepared to put up with a longer low tide restrictions. If your journey from home is just as easy, I would go to Penarth as you can always potter round Cardiff Bay if the weather outside the locks is not good enough. One downside is putting up with the idiotic pronouncements of the Welsh Assembly - you'd have been out of action longer during Covid-19 this year for instance. Who knows how many of the eateries around Cardiff Bay will survive the pandemic. Depending on the size of your favoured craft, have you considered dry stack somewhere on the South / SW coasts? The prices were very reasonable when I last looked and the lifting capacity surprisingly good.
 

Sneds

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Joined
26 Feb 2007
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4,646
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Bristol
As others have said, tidal access will be an issue anywhere around the BC, don’t even think about Bristol!
Actually it is a good destination, just arrive within the two hour window
Portishead works for us after being in Bristol for 10 plus years the tidal window is not an issue for us
Penarth would be my choice but the drive on a Friday evening can be a nightmare and my easiest destination would be Portishead, near where I live
So, Portishead as a home berth and Cardiff Bay as a destination. Simples!
 

38mess

Well-known member
Joined
9 Apr 2019
Messages
1,714
Location
Wales
I have been a sailor based in Cardiff bay before and after the barrage, but now I have moved on.

If I had my time again I would base my boat as far west as I could. I used to have a mooring in Milford off hakin point and the sailing is a different world. The number of wasted weekends and weeks I have had trying to get west from Cardiff or waiting for a favourable wind I dread to think of.

I know it's a long way both ways to drive but i thought it was worth it.
 

bitbaltic

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21 Nov 2011
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2,311
Location
Boat in Milford Haven
I have been a sailor based in Cardiff bay before and after the barrage, but now I have moved on.

If I had my time again I would base my boat as far west as I could. I used to have a mooring in Milford off hakin point and the sailing is a different world. The number of wasted weekends and weeks I have had trying to get west from Cardiff or waiting for a favourable wind I dread to think of.

I know it's a long way both ways to drive but i thought it was worth it.
💯 agree with that. We spent six years battling the inner channel with a family crew and then moved to Milford 3 years ago. Other things in life have stopped us sailing as much as we’d like but we’ve had more good moments up west than we had in twice the time in Penarth. I’ve lost count of the number of times stronger than expected winds and terrible seas had as packing up early and going home (30 mins from Cardiff). The 2 hour drive to Milford is worth it. In fact there’s a 2.5 hr direct train from Bridgend, which is close enough, and that’s quite a pleasant and restful way to get to the boat.
 

Gelfie

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Joined
15 Jul 2009
Messages
126
Location
S.coast
Started boating in S Wales but got fed up with tides and mud so bit the bullet and decided to try the S Coast. Have never regretted it. The drive can be a bit of a problem but once you get to know the short cuts away from the hoards it's only just over 2 hours from Chepstow. We are in Poole but Plymouth is not much longer. Both these ports give you unlimited access to great cruising ares and France on 4 hours in a fast motor boat. I wouldn't go back to the Bristol Channel now if it was half the price.
 

agi

New member
Joined
16 Aug 2020
Messages
5
Thanks everyone - all very useful.

I went to view two boats today. One in Torquay and one in Falmouth. First time I've been to both. Torquay marina is gorgeous.

I'd love to park the boat in Torquay, but 2 hours from Chepstow in absolute zero traffic. I did Chepstow to Taunton and back on a recent bank holiday weekend and it took 6 hours! I can see it being a barrier... it's a shame as the idea of being a few hours from France is very appealing to SWMBO and her love for french pastry!

I've applied to join CYBC - though you have to be proposed and seconded by two other members and I don't know anyone there and there's a wait list for a pontoon with electricity. So, I'll try and crack on with that, but in the interim, I'll be at Penarth Marina.

And I put a deposit on the boat in Torquay!
 

Sneds

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Joined
26 Feb 2007
Messages
4,646
Location
Bristol
I have to ask, what boat have you bought?

Will you be driving her home?
 

steveej

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27 Mar 2014
Messages
528
Location
Bristol
The issue is the M5! Boat used to be in Plymouth and it was 2.5 hours from Bristol on a good run. Took us 7 hours to get home at the end of one bank holiday weekend with mutliple pile ups. Though the cruising area is great down there.
 

oldmanofthehills

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13 Aug 2010
Messages
2,135
Location
Bristol / Cornwall
I have sold my Bristol Channel boat and will miss aspects of those waters. If I lived on the Welsh side I would go for Cardiff Lagoon, join a yacht club there and only go into Penarth Marina to fuel, but I live in Bristol so that would be an odd compromise

Plymouth however so much nicer and so many places to see nearby. Neither I or Navigator want day trips so 2.5 hours down motorway/A38 not a big deal. I might never get my Cornish boat back to these waters
 

steveej

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27 Mar 2014
Messages
528
Location
Bristol
I'm at CBYC and would recommend it. Also fuel there so you never need to go to Penarth.
 

Allan

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17 Mar 2004
Messages
4,360
Location
Bristol
I have sold my Bristol Channel boat and will miss aspects of those waters. If I lived on the Welsh side I would go for Cardiff Lagoon, join a yacht club there and only go into Penarth Marina to fuel, but I live in Bristol so that would be an odd compromise

Plymouth however so much nicer and so many places to see nearby. Neither I or Navigator want day trips so 2.5 hours down motorway/A38 not a big deal. I might never get my Cornish boat back to these waters
I too live in Bristol, my boat was in Plymouth for a month before it drove me mad! I spent many years at CYC, 65minutes from my front door to the car park. The only area that's a problem is the tunnel at Newport. Very much cheaper than Plymouth too.
Allan
 

oldmanofthehills

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13 Aug 2010
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2,135
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Bristol / Cornwall
I too live in Bristol, my boat was in Plymouth for a month before it drove me mad! I spent many years at CYC, 65minutes from my front door to the car park. The only area that's a problem is the tunnel at Newport. Very much cheaper than Plymouth too.
Allan
I only pay about £150 for my mooring and similar for club membership near Saltash and my recollection is that CYC is more than that. Plymouth Sound better for France and Channel Islands and I wont miss always trying to get to Foreland before tide turns against us. I will miss Watermouth, Watchet and Ilfracombe
 
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