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Sharpness - Avonmouth

NB Willawaw

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I am considering making a summer run from Sharpness down the Bristol Channel into the K&A at Avonmouth to avoid a long back haul back down the Grand Union.

I will probably engage a river pilot for the passage and of course, will carry all the safety gear and charts and publications. I have seagoing navigation experience so am not worried about that side of things.

The pilots notes recommend running on the Ebb tide preferably with a North or NE wind of Force 3 or below.

I plan to carry spare belts, etc for the engine and will clean out the water and sludge from the diesel tank before leaving the G+S canal.

I am also thinking of doing this in a convoy with any other boats that want to go at the time, as there is safety in numbers and we can probably split the pilotage dues.


Are there any readers who have done the trip and can offer practical advice or tips from bad experiences.

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I wish you luck. I have not done the trip but Two years ago while on a cruise


aboard "the Waverley" (a ship). We were on a cruise from sharpness down the


river. We observed a narrow boat making the passage with a pilot on board, I


believe this is compulsory and has to be booked well in advance.


The narrow boat looked very small on that large river. The strength of the tide has


to be seen to be believed. The Waverley had problems mooring at Sharpness, on


the river, with the flow being so strong.


A safe journey and let us know how it was for you.


bottle <_<

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Whilst I have not done the trip myself, I know several people who have< and as far as I know bottle is correct in staing that you have to book the services of a pilot. However if you have verifiable experience of tidal navigation and are a competent chart reader, they my let you skipper your own boat whilst they are actually on another accompanying boat supervising a less experienced helmsman. Either way you need to contact them and book a passage, there are apparently times of the year when it can be very hairy making the passage. I wish you good luck with your venture and hope that the weather is kind to you.

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I lived in Sharpness for many years and our home mooring is on the Gloucester & Sharpness so I know many people who have done the trip and seen the aftermath of when it has gone wrong which fortunately is not too often .Although the pilots suggest Force 3 as a maximum , most people think Force 2 is high enough. If you are going alone ensure you inform Swansea Coastguard and its not a bad idea to let SARA who are based in the Old Sharpness arm know as well. Take a VHF radio with you. and aim to moor over in Portishead Marina before completing the trip , a berth would need to be booked in advance.

I think the current charge for a pilot is £90 or thereabouts - I strongly recommend you use one however experienced you are this is still one of the most dangerous stretches of water there is and even the pilots with lifetime experience have been known to get it wrong - that said take the right precautions and meticulous preparation you will have an interesting trip.

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Thanks for all that guys. I had pretty much decided to take a pilot anyway, so finding out that it is compulsory has cemented that. I have also seen the advice about waiting for the tide to turn at Portishead Marina, so I have taken that on-board as well. I'm not one of those gung-ho types and have been involved with boats and ships since a young lad, both in a recreational and professional sense, so I'm well aware of what can go wrong when you take the sea for granted.


I've seen what the wash at Limehouse can do to the "biscuit-tinned" shape of a narrowboat hull, so I will not be venturing out unless there is high pressure over the Severn estuary and a force 2 max.


Best Regards




NB Willawaw


Cassiobury, GU (Northbound)

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