Should I base in Bristol Channel?

lilianroyle

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I live in London but the core of my family (sister/son) now lives near Gloucester. We all used to live near the Crouch in Essex, and that’s where I’ve always kept my boat. My son wants me to relocate to Gloucester. I’ve just sold my 31foot smack and am looking to buy a TSDY, Nelson 34 or similar. Any thoughts about having a boat like that in the Bristol Channel. (Where?) Compared to the east coast rivers the (weekend) cruising looks a bit limited. Any thoughts?
 

Motor_Sailor

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I always find spending ten minutes on Google maps looking at driving times, very intersting. My gut instinct would be to to think that Milford Haven is the obvious and better alternative to keep a boat for someone living in Gloucester. But it's 3 hours away. The same as the River Crouch and even Liverpool.

Closer is Cardiff and Swansea at 1hr and 90 minutes or so. Both would be perfectly adequate bases for something like a Nelson, but your trips out will probably use the full seaworthiness and power of your boat if you're to get anywhere! Of the two, Swansea probably offers the better access to interesting local cruising.

Travelling a bit further brings The Solent into play with Port Solent itself being exactly 2 hrs away. But I've lost all enthusiasm I ever had for dealing with the traffic heading that way on a Friday. So the same amount of travelling but straight down the motorway brings you to Exmouth.
 
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38mess

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Yes if you don't want to sail anywhere 😁 further west is best. Milford Haven marina is a lovely place to base yourself. Cardiff bay is good, but need to lock in and out which on a sunny weekend can take an age. My boat was based in Milford after a few years in Cardiff. Usually if you want to go anywhere from Cardiff its wind over tide going west, pretty lumpy. Also there are not many places to visit outside the bay.
Milford Haven opens up a whole new sailing world.
 
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Snoopy463

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Yes if you don't want to sail anywhere 😁 further west is best. Milford Haven marina is a lovely place to base yourself. Cardiff bay is good, but need to lock in and out which on a sunny weekend can take an age. My boat was based in Milford after a few years in Cardiff. Usually if you want to go anywhere from Cardiff its wind over tide going west, pretty lumpy. Also there are not many places to visit outside the bay.
Milford Haven opens up a whole new sailing world.
….. but it can be a PITA getting through Newport, PortTalbot, North Swansea and St Clears on a sunny weekend. (Sadly)
 

PCUK

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Depends on your budget. The marinas around Bristol are nice but more expensive. If you want something more economical and don't mind a mud berth then Uphill and Watchet are worth thinking about although Watchet is in turmoil at the moment with no clear picture of what is going to happen to it. Certainly you will find the Bristol channel much quieter than the Crouch, in fact almost deserted yacht-wise (power and sail) and it can be more challenging but the scenery is wonderful. You may want to consider equipping your new boat with strong bilge keels so she can dry out level in places like Ilfracombe. (I am currently equipping my current sports cruiser with the same).
As long as your Nelson has big engines to give her good semi-displacement speed you will be fine.
 

oldmanofthehills

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I started from Lydney as living in Cheltenham in 1985 but moved steadily past chepstow portishead until eventually arrived at Uphill about 2000

Finally in 2018 navigator persuaded me to move boat to east cornwall. 2.25 hours from bristol instead of 0.75hr drive plus 0.75hrs walk across marshes with kit. (She did her coastal there and still has familly in east cornwal)

I miss BC a bit but its marmite and restricted. From Gloucester I would go Swansea or if train happy go straight to Milford. We based there for 3 summers by borrowing mooring and its a great cruising ground.

Just accept that short weekends are not possible from Gloucester as you need to factor in 5 to 6 hours driving or train.

Exeter closer than Plymouth/Saltash but a long way inland, with shallow waters and a harbour speed restriction along much of exe sound
 

Dellquay13

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Yes that's very true.I used to go at night, straight run to Milford
I regularly travel from Sheffield to Milford for the weekend Friday night to Sunday night, it can be a Pita as said, but for me worth it for the Celtic sea sailing grounds.
I’m just a weekend sailor, work stops me having regular longer trips, so the outer BC is great for me, but it is a bit remote for getting out into other areas if time allows, it’s always a long way to the next region either south past Lands End, West to Ireland or North up the Irish Sea.
What I mean is, for regular weekends it’s a great area, but as a base for extended forays into other areas not so good.
 

mattonthesea

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If you want weekend sailing then I would recommend no further east than Swansea or Ilfracombe. The tides dictate so much of what you can do in two days further up the BC. If they don't match your weekend then you'll be limited. Even that far west you are usually locking in and out. But the club sailors are friendly and knowledgeable and it is fun; it is certainly an experience!

You could (italics) try Cardiff for a while. You can reach Bristol, Lydney, Watchet, Swansea, Portishead on one tide, but only with good weather for returning (and light). If you don't like it then move on🙂

PS both Cardiff and Swansea are liable for running aground at LW springs. We draw 1.5m - how do I know this? 😯
 

srm

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I did much of my training as a hydrographic surveyor in the channel with a scientific research group mapping and measuring the flow of fluid mud. I never thought of it as a place to go recreational boating, but then much of my work was off the industrial area around Avonmouth and up under the bridge - only one at that time. You will probably need good filters on your engine cooling water intakes and a regular supply of spare impellers to cope with the mud density in the water.
 

Allan

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I'm an enormous fan of the Bristol channel, so biased, mostly towards Cardiff. If I were to buy a Nelson or something similar, I would think Gloucester docks or somewhere nearby would seem perfect. Up the Severn to Tewkesbury and beyond. The Avon to Stratford is probably possible. In the other direction the Sharpness canal has some very interesting places to visit like Slimbridge and Sharpness itself.
Fuel costs for such a vessel are significant but at least in the BC you have reasonable tides which could take you down to Portishead and Cardiff in one and Watchet, Bristol and Minehead in two. Swansea/Mumbles/Oxwich would probably take a a tide and a bit but maybe not.
Probably no help but it was good to think about some of my previous trips, not all sailing!
Allan
 

Halo

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I had my Westerly at Uphill. I would have thought that you would be better off at a marina such as Portishead or Penarth.
The Bristol Channel is great and if you use the tides you can get a really long way in 8h
 

Birdseye

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I live in London but the core of my family (sister/son) now lives near Gloucester. We all used to live near the Crouch in Essex, and that’s where I’ve always kept my boat. My son wants me to relocate to Gloucester. I’ve just sold my 31foot smack and am looking to buy a TSDY, Nelson 34 or similar. Any thoughts about having a boat like that in the Bristol Channel. (Where?) Compared to the east coast rivers the (weekend) cruising looks a bit limited. Any thoughts?
Yes. Weekend cruising for a mobo would be fairly limited as it is for a deep keeled yacht. There are marinas and deep water harbours but not that many of them so many ports of interest dry either to mud or hard sand. The Bristol channel mostly faces west / south west against the prevailing winds, and with fast tides this can mean lots of chop by east coast standards. Sure is you are in a Nelson 34 you will cope but you wont be comfortable and that may well limit use. Finally, it has before now taken me 6 hours to cover the distance from london suburbs to the severn crossing - the M4 car be a nightmare. You dont say whether your son wants the boat or you and the boat relocated to Gloucester but I wouldnt want my boat to be that far away from where I lived.

Certainly wouldnt keep a sea going boat in Gloucester - its at the end of a canal and far up the bristol channel.
 

trapper guy

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i hope lilianroyle doesnt mind me hopping in on this thread.
im planning the same, i have some family in the south wales/cardiff area. and know a few people around somerset, so the bristol channel is my target.
bought a 28 foot bilge keel last year down the brighton area, moored in the brighton marina at vicious expense, cant wait to leave the place!

im just looking for ideas for mooring options, as stated its a bilge keeler, so mud, sand and drying out areas not a problem, i also like the nature, so scenery is of value to me.

any input welcomed.

apologies to lilianroyle for lack of advice, unfortunately as of right now, i have none of worth to give.
 

Sandy

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My first boat was based in Ilfracombe when I bought it. She was moved to the south Devon coast very soon after as I found the Bristol Channel 'limiting'.

Being based on the south coast I can be in France in 24 hours drinking decent coffee and Spain in four days.

Really depends what you like to do when sailing.
 

38mess

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i hope lilianroyle doesnt mind me hopping in on this thread.
im planning the same, i have some family in the south wales/cardiff area. and know a few people around somerset, so the bristol channel is my target.
bought a 28 foot bilge keel last year down the brighton area, moored in the brighton marina at vicious expense, cant wait to leave the place!

im just looking for ideas for mooring options, as stated its a bilge keeler, so mud, sand and drying out areas not a problem, i also like the nature, so scenery is of value to me.

any input welcomed.

apologies to lilianroyle for lack of advice, unfortunately as of right now, i have none of worth to give.
Cardiff bay has two good yacht clubs although I think one of these has a waiting list to get on the waiting list for mooring. Cardiff yacht club has trot moorings and vacancies so I am told. There are also two marinas Penarth marina run by Boatfolk or Cardiff marina, at the moment I think only Cardiff Marina has space. You can sail in Cardiff bays calm waters until you get more confidence then lock out into the Bristol channel, pick you days carefully and look at the tides and weather particularly the wind. You can get to Ilfracombe in a tide if you plan carefully and dry out in the harbour, then pop over to Lundy and anchor off.
I was based in Cardiff yacht club until the barrage was built and locking in and out was required.
I moved to Milford Haven area. It opens a whole new world of sailing for a yachtsman. And the tides are more friendly.
Good luck whatever you decide.
 

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