Richards Bay - General Info

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Richards Bay is a large natural harbor and is South Africa’s most northernmost and easterly port.  It is 87NM (160kms) NE of Durban and 252NM (465kms) southwest of Maputo.

Prior to the mid 1970s, the port complex of Richard’s Bay was a large natural lagoon, home to the exuberant wildlife of the coastal region of Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. In April 1976 the port was officially opened and the one-time lagoon converted into a thriving 19m deep man-made port.

Although it is a large commercial port, it has become a popular call for international cruising yachts because of the close proximity to game parks and the St Lucia World Heritage Site. Cruising yachts make use of the small craft berth where there is a modern marina (Zululand Yacht Club) near the small craft basin.

Entrance Notes and Cautions:

The port of Richards Bay is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The approach is easy at any time.  The entrance channel is dredged to a permissible draught of 17.5 metres with a -19.5m depth in the entrance channel. Berthing varies between 8m (small craft berth) and 19m (coal berths).

When departing Richards Bay stick to around 100 meters water depth to make use of the excellent current flowing south at about 3knots. It runs all the way down to Port Elizabeth.

Contact Richards Bay Port Control on VHF channel 12 (NOT 16) from no more than 6 miles away before entering the harbor breakwater. You will be instructed to either stand-off or enter – although you may not get an answer at all. In bad weather, you will most likely be permitted to enter the harbor immediately unless a large ship is also approaching.

Vessels arriving from Foreign Ports must proceed to Tuzi Gazi (Waterfront) to clear Customs, Immigration and Health before proceeding to Zululand Yacht Club. Stick to the left hand side of the channel as there is a sand bar to the right. Channel has an average depth of 2.5 meters.

Useful Contacts:

  • OSASA representative and OCC Port Officer: Natasha Wolmarans Email:[email protected]
  • Port Manager:  Ph:  +27 035 9053203 Email:  [email protected]
  • Harbour Master:  Ph:  +27 035 7531991
  • Zululand Yacht Club – Fiona Linde – Email:  [email protected]  – Ph:  035 788 0256


28° 48.63′ S, 32°06.08′ E (harbor entrance)


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Richards Bay was last updated 3 weeks ago.

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  1. April 3, 2023 at 6:53 AM
    profile photo
    SfS says:

    Having boat work done in Richards Bay:
    We needed help with welding and engine maintenance and found great help from Jacques and Morgan of Fleet Maintenance Office. They have a workshop close to the E-pontoon (walk-on). Jacques and his colleagues did an excellent job removing a leaking deck window and welding the deck, while Morgan and his colleagues worked on our engine to replace parts. They were skilful and efficient and honest about the time they spent on the jobs. We can warmly recommend them.

    1. June 2, 2023 at 1:41 PM
      profile photo
      Sailors for Sustainability says:

      The only negative thing we experienced was a break-in of our boat with the key we had left in the care of the yacht club. The key was missing when we returned. No good system was in place to keep boat keys secure and to log who had left a key with them and to whom it was given. The yacht club acknowledged the lack (or failure) of their system and promised to improve it, but refused to reimburse (part of) our losses.

  2. April 3, 2023 at 6:48 AM
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    SfS says:

    Leaving Richards Bay (for coastal sailing) is quite straightforward: fill in forms at the reception of ZYC, pay outstanding marina fees, then make your way to the Sea Police. We walked (15 min), as it is in the Tuzi Gazi area (across the street from the Dros restaurant, where internationals arrive). Then back to ZYC, where they will communicate to Port Control. Call Port Control on VHF when you leave.

  3. November 2, 2022 at 7:23 PM
    lyndalim says:

    Updates Received from Floris and Ivar – Sailors for Sustainability

    Tuzi Gazi marina was destroyed in a storm. It no longer exists. 

    Immigration moved to the Bayview entrance of the commercial port. They are in a small building at the security gate on Newmark Road (NOT close to where Tuzi Gazi used to be but on the other side, near Alton). Just before the security gate stop at the bus stop. Walk to the building on the left of the gate. 

    If leaving your boat in Richards Bay to travel abroad, get a form from immigration, so you’ll have no problems getting back into SA without a return ticket. 

    There are haul-out options at Zululand Yacht Club. The club manages the “dolly”, where you leave the boat on a trailer for the duration of the work. This is managed by the club and fully booked weeks ahead. The other option is a boat lift up to 30 tons. It is run by a business operating independently from the club (but on its premises). Each movement is about USD 500 for a 45-foot yacht. Days on the hard are reasonably priced. There is another trailer for catamarans run by the same business. 

    Internet: public wifi is rare, so get a local SIM card. We got Vodacom in their shop at the mall, where they signed us up using just a passport. It’s useful to buy some credit there and then (which they call airtime). This can be used to make phone calls and buy data packages using a menu on your phone or via their app. 

    You’ll need a taxi for anything you do outside the Yacht Club. The club’s unofficial driver is Eric, who will take you around for a reasonable fee. 

    All best
    Floris van Hees & Ivar Smits
    Sailors for Sustainability

  4. November 16, 2018 at 5:26 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Hi Domander,
    Thanks for your comment. We have updated the Fuel section of the Marine Services page with information on diesel deliveries to the Small Craft Harbour and Zululand Yacht Club. Thanks again for the info.

  5. November 11, 2018 at 6:15 AM
    Data Entry1 says:

    The standard way to get fuel here is by taxi and fuel jugs. However, there is a fuel truck that makes deliveries by hose onto the International Wharf. The standard way may be being protected by taxi drivers. I have no further information concerning this. This is just a heads up that a fuel truck does exist.

  6. November 23, 2017 at 12:00 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Clearing in and out in Richards Bay is time-consuming. It took from 13:00 Monday 20 Nov 17 until 17:00 Wednesday 22 Nov to complete inward and then outward formalities, in order to catch a weather window south on the 23rd.

    As we motored out into the channel I requested permission from Port Control and was eventually told that they didn’t have a hard copy of my FLIGHT PLAN. I was ordered to go to Zululand Yacht Club to fax it through to them. No one explained to me that I needed the 6 stamps to leave port and I assumed they were for entry at the next port. I am in correspondence with the Office for Red Tape Reduction, who have stated that once cleared in a yacht is a coastal yacht and need not complete full clearance requirements, to try to get some action on this.

  7. October 26, 2017 at 2:00 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Reported on the Indian Ocean Crossing Facebook Page:

    Richards Bay Zululand Yacht Club can only accommodate boats until the World ARC arrives approx 9/11th Nov: is possible to anchor off. Contact Fiona Linde [email protected] *27 (0)35 788 0256.

    Tuzi Gazi (where you have to go tie up to the concrete docks in order to check into Immigration etc.) can only handle boats up to 10-12 tonnes, 40′ loa. Contact [email protected] – very helpful.

  8. December 28, 2015 at 8:17 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Posted on behalf of Conny Dahlin on Swedish yacht “Miramis”:
    I am at the moment in Richards Bay, South Africa, and found the company SA Energy Group. They supply deep cycle batteries, solar panels, inverters, wind turbines etc. for off-grid systems. They are not far from Zululand yacht club and fill a big hole for this kind of things in Richards Bay since most people don’t know about them and try to go through Durban. I strongly recommend that they get listed on noonsite.

    Editor’s Note: SA Energy Group is now listed under Electrics & Electronics.

  9. December 28, 2015 at 4:17 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    Re: Clearing in and out in Richards Bay

    We spent 4 weeks at Tuzi Gazi Marina in December 2015. Clearing in by health and immigration takes place at the marina. We have directed directly into the Tuzi Gazi marina pontoons since the “international” area of the port was absolutely crowded.

    On arrival, we (but not other boats) were informed, that customs would no longer come to the boat to clear you in, but you would have to take a taxi and go there, which we did. Though other cruisers reported, officials were not really motivated to clear yachts in, it was easy and friendly. The warden at the customs office (see below, point 3) shows you where to go and gives you an in-house phone number to call; I was cleared in within 10 minutes.
    We heard that some boats have been fined for not clearing in with customs – other boats have not. It does not hurt to drop by the customs office when you go shopping at the mall anyway

    Clearing out: As mentioned above, clearing out is a bit more complicated, even if you only move to another South African port, such as Durban, so this is the proper way to do that:
    1. go to the office (Tuzi Gazi Marina or Zululand Yacht club) and pay for your stay
    They then will provide you with the “flight plan”, 7-page paperwork you have to fill in

    2. see the reception of the Zululand Yachtclub to get the first stamp in. the flight plan

    3. Go to Richards Bay/Arboretum to see immigration. The office is located in some office buildings off Krugerrand Grove, just west of the junction at the Netcare Bay Hospital. The front of the building, next to FNB-Bank, is marked Department of Home Affairs, but you reach the immigration office through a side entrance on the left side of the building, marked “Port control”. Easy and friendly and fast – you get your flight plan stamped there.

    4. Proceed to customs – located in the SARS Building on Dollar Drive, on the right-hand side before you reach Guldengracht Street (quite close to immigration). The taxi driver who took me there for clearing it did not know the place and had to ask around.
    Fill in some more forms and you get a clearance and a stamp in your flight plan.

  10. December 10, 2014 at 1:08 PM
    Data Entry1 says:

    The email address for Zululand Yacht Club is no longer in use. The correct address is [email protected] (reception), [email protected] (management) or [email protected] (accounts).

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