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Navigation and Safety

Navigation and Safety

Navigation Section - Safety Guidance   The Teign estuary is used extensively by a wide range...



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Navigation Section - Safety Guidance


The Teign estuary is used extensively by a wide range of leisure and commercial vessels varying in size from small dinghies and powerboats to commercial fishing boats and merchant ships.

It requires courtesy and understanding from all users so everyone can enjoy their activities or go about their business safely without causing undue nuisance or creating hazards. See Water Users Guide for further information. pdf Water Users Guide

Here are some safety reminders:

All vessels are to give way to and keep well clear of any ship entering or leaving the harbour. Ships are restricted in their ability to manoeuvre in the channel and have right of way at all times.

The Harbour Tug Teign C is usually engaged in dredging on a daily basis in the entrance channel and all vessels should give her a wide berth when entering and leaving the harbour.


Power Driven Vessels

Keep to the 6 knots speed over the ground.
(The limit applies to the whole estuary from the Ness to Newton Abbot).

Proceed at slower speeds when deemed necessary.

Avoid undue wash particularly in the vicinity of other vessels by reducing speed.

Keep to the starboard side of the channel at all times particularly when entering or leaving the Harbour.

Follow the Collision Regulations at all times. Remember that power driven vessels must give way to vessels under oars or sails (ref. Collision Regulations 9, 10 and 13).

Keep a good lookout for Kayakers, Canoeists, Paddleboarders and especially swimmers, who can be very difficult to see even when proceeding at 6 knots.  


Personal Watercraft & Water-Skiing

Be aware of the following restrictions that apply in the estuary:-

  • Personal watercraft (jet-ski's) are prohibited in the estuary but may proceed from the public slipways of Gales Hill and Polly Steps directly to the sea between sunrise and sunset, subject to first obtaining a permit from either the Harbour Office, Dive Centre, Seasports and Polly Steps Car Park Attendant (June to September) (cost £10 per annum). A sample of the registration form and further detail can be found on the Information Directory.
  • Water-skiing is prohibited in the estuary except in the designated area near Coombe Cellars which is subject to membership of the South Devon Watersports Club. 


Weather and Tides

Always check the weather and tides before contemplating entering or leaving the estuary. (See Weather and Tide links at bottom of page). Winds from the NE,E SE and S (onshore winds) will tend to build a sea state in the approaches depending on strength and will cause broken water across the bar. This will be accentuated on an ebb tide and at low water. If in doubt delay your entry or departure or seek advice from the Harbour Master. Also due consideration must be given to the strength of the current in the entrance and lower estuary during spring tides which can be as much as 5 knots during the peak. Particular caution needs to be taken when passing underneath the bridge during these conditions and also through the moorings.

All Vessels...

  • Must comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
  • Must not secure to or obstruct any navigation mark, buoy or beacon.
  • Keep a good look out at all times.

    Navigation - Approaches & lower estuary: 

    Leisure Craft

   It is important that the following is noted by all users

  • The approach and entrance to Teignmouth harbour is manageable by all types of craft in reasonable weather conditions as long as due caution is taken. The position of the channel and the bar needs to be known and understood prior to attempting entry or exit. Vessels without local knowledge are recommended to seek advice and confirmation of the channel marks from the Harbour Master.
  • The position of the bar can change within a few hours during fresh or strong onshore winds, particularly during the winter months.
    An entrance or exit should not be attempted during these conditions especially as there will be broken water across the bar, which will be accentuated on an ebb tide and at low water
  • The Harbour Commission aim to maintain an east/west shipping channel across the bar throughout the year using the plough dredger Teign C. Be aware that this channel may also change due to adverse weather conditions particularly during the winter months.
  • During the summer the channel is usually stable and entry to the River Teign is comparatively straightforward.
  • The depth of the channel varies across the bar and is approx. 0 metres to 2.0 metres below chart datum. This can reduce from time to time during winter months
  • Due allowance needs to be taken of tidal flows which can be 4 to 5 knots during springs in the entrance between the Lucette Light and Den Point
  • Shipping movements normally occur up to one hour either side of high water but can occasionally occur at other states of the tide. However during neaps movements can occur at most states of the tide depending on size and draft of the vessel.
  • To be aware of shipping movements craft are advised to maintain a listening watch on Channel 12 when entering or leaving the harbour.

    Guidance Notes on Navigation (inwards)

    Vessels without local knowledge should aim for a safe water waypoint to seaward of the outer channel buoys. i.e: 50° 32.4' N 003° 29.0' W (WGS 84). This waypoint will place you adjacent to the transit line 265°  which the Harbour Authority dredge regularly.  It is recommended that you check the Channel position with Harbour Master prior to entry.

    View pdf Aerial photo of approaches and lower estuary (205 KB)

The transit marks for east/west channel across the bar are:










A red port hand and green starboard hand buoy mark the outer entrance to the channel.












From the waypoint 50° 32.4N 003° 29.00 W(4 cables East North East of the Ness) proceed to a position to pick up the following transit.

Lucette Lighted Beacon Oc.R.6s4m3M (sited on the training wall on the Shaldon side of the river, under the Ness) to be lined up between (in transit with) the 2 vertical white stripes painted on the sea wall behind the beacon bearing 265° (T) (approx)

Once on the transit leave the Spratt Sands Green Starboard Hand conical lighted buoy Fl G 2s to starboard.


Leave the Ness Rocks Red Port Hand Can Buoy Fl R 2s to port.

Leave Lucette lighted beacon OCC R 6S to port.



Leave Inner Spratt Sands Green Starboard Hand conical lighted buoy Fl G 2s to starboard.

Leave Point lighted beacon OCC G 6s and FG to starboard.


Turn to starboard leaving Lower Salty Red Fl R 2s to port.

Follow the channel between the Point and Salty bank - leaving Lifeboat Slip Starboard hand buoy to starboard.




The visitors pontoons are moored in the river on the starboard side of the channel about 100m South of the New Quay. If you berth here please berth with your bow pointing towards the Docks / upriver.



The Upper Estuary

The upper estuary extends 3 miles up river to Newton Abbot from Shaldon Bridge. This is an outstanding stretch of the river and is well worth a trip in a suitable sized craft. There are public landing steps at the Newton Abbot town quay, which can be approached on the top of the tide. There are also landing facilities at Coombe Cellars and the Passage House Inn which lie either side of the estuary before Newton Abbot.

There are no up to date charts of this area but here are some guidance notes:

  • Navigation is restricted to small craft due to depth of channel. Also Shaldon Bridge has a height restriction (air draft) of 2.9 metres at MHWS.
  • The deepest part of the channel is marked with port and starboard hand buoys from Shaldon Bridge towards Newton Abbot. The channel in the upper reaches is staked and is reasonably clear from the surrounding reed beds.
  • The estuary has limited deep water and is abounded by many sand and mud banks. Therefore those without local knowledge should not only proceed with caution but also within a window of 2 hours either side of high water.
  • It is recommended that any trip should proceed upriver on a flood tide within the above constraints.
  • Maximum speed 6 knots and be aware of your wash and keep a good lookout for canoeists, paddle boarders and swimmers.

    Beware of:

  • Designated water ski area, marked by yellow buoys near Coombe Cellars . The channel passes through this area.
  • Local fishermen – salmon seine netting, mussel harvesting etc
  • Under water obstructions including oyster racks which mainly lie outside the channel. Black diamond marks on red buoys sometimes are used to indicate such hazards.
  • Windsurfing, dinghy sailing, canoeing, paddle boarding, swimming and rowing all of which are popular in the estuary.



pdf Aerial photo of approaches and lower estuary (205 KB)

Photographs/descriptions showing navigation marks and pilot buoys

  pdf Water Users Guide (890 KB)

pdf Harbour Users Information

pdf General Directions

Notice to Mariners - see Information Directory 

pdf Teignmouth Harbour Byelaws 1985

RNLI - Teignmouth

International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

Tides UKH0 7 day tidal prediction:


Weather charts:

UK Weather & Wind charts:




Teignmouth Harbour Commission
2nd Floor, ABP Port Office
Old Quay Road
TQ14 8ES

Phone: +44 (0)1626 773165
Emergency: +44 (0)7796 178456

VHF Channel 12 (Office Hours)

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