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Bristol: A Visit to Portishead Quays Marina

By SY Yindee Plus — last modified Oct 25, 2016 01:44 PM
Very few foreign cruising yachts venture up the Severn Estuary and yet Portishead, near Bristol, is an excellent, secure base for exploring the South West of the UK and much cheaper than the south coast marinas.

Published: 2016-09-30 23:00:00
Countries: United Kingdom

Bristol: A Visit to Portishead Quays Marina

Portishead Lock (from marina website)

The marina's comprehensive website gives detailed information about access and services http://www.quaymarinas.com/our-marinas/portishead-quays/. Manager, Keith Berry, responds to email enquiries promptly and all the staff are friendly and helpful.

Approaches

If approaching the lock at the edge of the tidal window (+/- 3.5 hours), then keep fairly close to the pier where the deepest water is. A spur of mud-bank crosses this track part-way along the pier and you'll notice a shallower depth on your sounder. Once inside the lock, you can tie to the floating pontoons on either side (or follow the marina's instructions on busy days). These rise with the water level and the whole process is very secure. Marina staff do not routinely assist, although the control tower and marina office is next to the lock and it would be easy for them to help you if you require it. There is a very helpful map of the marina berths on each of these pontoons so you have time to plan your berth approach while the lock fills.

The fuel dock is on the port side just after you leave the lock / enter the marina. This is sometimes used as a reception dock too.

The Marina is totally protected from the estuary conditions but the prevailing SW wind is funneled between the tall buildings along the length of the marina towards the lock gates.The majority of marina berths are lined up with this so that access is with the breeze ahead or aft of the boat. There is a pool of 'spare' marina water at the opposite end from the lock where boats can hold station while waiting for the lock or while altering lines and fenders. Marina staff do not routinely take lines for visiting yachts; if you need assistance it would be best to pre-arrange this.

Security

The Marina feels very secure from theft. There are closed circuit TV cameras at the entrances to the pontoons; the entrances are key-coded (code changed monthly). Portishead is a quiet dormitory town to Bristol and crime rates are low. Although there are a couple of bars / cafes next to the Marina, noise pollution is rarely a problem and the berths feel very private because they are floating well away from the edges of the dock. The Marina is a very popular place for local people to 'promenade' in the summer months, but this is not intrusive to Marina users.

Marina & Shore Facilities

There are three sets of toilet / shower facilities in the marina. From the furthest berths, this requires about a 3 minute walk. The facilities at the lock building and those attached to the Hall and Woodhouse pub are new and spotlessly clean. The H&W ones boast a unisex bathroom with bath too (very nice after a cold day's hiking). There are toilets / showers at the boatyard too although these are older and more basic. There are free hairdryers in each of the 3 shower blocks.

There are two sets of laundry rooms, one in each shower block. They each have one washer (£3 / load, takes about 40 mins), one dryer (50p / 10 minutes) and an ironing board. There is an iron at the lock facilities but not at the H&W.

The Marina has free wifi with generally good connectivity, but it may depend on the location of your berth. Wifi is also obtainable in several of the cafes in the Marina / town and in the library. There are book swaps within, or next to, the laundry facilities.

There is a Co-op convenience store right next to the marina (with ATM) and four other supermarkets within walking distance. The town has two budget supermarkets (Lidl and Aldi) and two others: Waitrose (ATM) and Sainsbury (ATM). The superb and very cheap bakery in the Lidl supermarket, close to the marina, is highly recommended.

Gas (propane and butane) is available from Advance Marine chandlers in the boat yard and from Careys hardware store in the town. Neither of these providers have a guaranteed stock, so best to request it early. The chandlery is a fairly simple operation, although the staff can order in equipment for you. There is a Force 4 chandlers next to the marina in Bristol too.

We haven't used any of the boatyard services so can't comment on them at the present time. There are labelled recycling bins on the pontoons nearest the lock, but not on the pontoons near the haul-out bay, where the bins are 'general waste' only.

Things to do and see

There are several cafes and restaurants around the marina complex and others in the town, which is only a ten minute walk away. The leisure centre, with swimming pool, gym, exercise classes and badminton courts is next to the marina (book online) and there are numerous walks and cycle trails starting from here too. The other leisure facility is based at the high school at the far end of the town and has squash courts too. The open-air swimming pool at the Lido makes a good outing as well on a warm sunny day.

Portishead has good transport links with Bristol and its neighbouring towns of Clevedon and Weston-Super-Mare. The bus stops are very close to the marina. The national rail network can be accessed via Bristol at the moment but, in the future, Portishead hopes to have its rail link re-established. There is a car hire company (Enterprise) within walking distance of the marina and Portishead is very close to the M5 so access to the south west of the UK and South Wales is quick and easy.

Portishead is also part of the national cycle network. You can obtain free maps from the library, close to Waitrose supermarket. Two recommended outings are: cycle to the Clifton Suspension Bridge via the Avon Cycleway (the free visitor's centre next to the bridge is excellent) and then return via Leigh Woods. Secondly, walk the coastal path from Portishead to Clevedon and then return by bus (or continue the loop back to Portishead of the 'Gordano Round').

The history of the Marina complex is very interesting, having been transformed from a commercial dock, two power stations and a phosphorus plant over the last couple of decades. There are historical information boards at the dockside and a local history section in the library.

Portishead Quays Marina is well worth the trek up the Severn Estuary to get here.

Susan Bright
Yindee Plus

The crew of SY Yindee Plus completed a circumnavigation in 2016 and have contributed reports regularly to noonsite throughout. See a selection of their reports here.

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