Don't be put off sailing by the cautions on the Admiralty chart - there are no dragons in this part of Wales!

There was a 1935 International Dragon, but she's been sold now!

Boats have been safely navigating the upper reaches of the Severn since Roman times, and provided he obeys two local rules, the careful sailor should have no problems.

The rules are:

a) Don't try to make a passage against the tide.

b) Without local knowledge, do not sail outside the HW + 2 hrs. to HW -2 hrs. window up river of Avonmouth.

From Avonmouth to St Pierre Pill

Coming up stream from the Bristol Channel, depart Avonmouth pier head between 2 hrs. and half an hour before local high water.

The channel up ‘The Shoots’ is clearly marked, and has leading lights on both Avonmouth and the Welsh shore.

The northerly leading lights, beyond the M4 bridge are actually in the same field as our Club Hut.

The tidal stream within the shoots can be quite fearsome so, once committed to this course there is no turning back.

However, if you maintain a heading on a line between the center of the main arch of the bridge with Avonmouth directly astern, you should have no problems.

As you pass under the bridge, you have a decision to take.

To reach St Pierre Pill you can go either side of Charston Rock.

Locals will leave Charston Light a decent distance to starboard and keep the same heading towards the Welsh coast until mid-distance between the Charston light and Black Rock.

Then turn to starboard and the entrance to St Pierre pill will be clear in front of you.

But this route is subject to considerable turbulence and back eddies.

So, strict attention must be paid to transits and if sailing do have the engine on ready as the bridge can cast a wind shadow.

The alternative is to leave Charston Rock to port, follow the shipping channel up river until you are well past the Rock.

Close to High Water you can then turn across Charston Sands towards the Pill.

If you proceed past the end of Charston Sands, you will have to punch the tide back down to St Pierre.

Pilotage to St Pierre Pill

From Up Stream

If coming downstream from Thornbury Sailing Club, Lydney Harbour or Sharpness aim to arrive well before 3 hours after local high water.

Having passed under the M48 bridge leave Chapel Rock to starboard, then make your way over towards the west.

You should be able to pick out the white club hut up on it’s headland, the entrance to the St Pierre Pill is just beyond.

Pilotage to St Pierre Pill

Entry to St Pierre Pill

The entrance to the Pill is marked by withies on the northern shore and leading marks (reflective triangles) on the southern shore.

These will guide you into the entrance of the pill, which doglegs between soft muddy spits.

Once you see the moored boats in front of you, turn to leave them close on your port side.

Bilge keelers can moor to either pontoon, fin keelers are advised to take the port hand pontoon as viewed from the entrance

The moorings dry 3 hrs after local HW, with a bottom of varying depths of soft clean mud.

Do not enter the moorings at night without local knowledge.


If departing down river, leave up to HW + 1 hrs.

If going up river to Sharpness, you can leave as soon as you float on neaps but don't go too early on springs- you will have a fast tide under you.

On a 14.4m tide (Avonmouth), it may take only an hour to reach Lydney or Sharpness.

Shelter at St Pierre Pill is excellent except perhaps at the very top of a high spring (>14m) with a S gale, when the moorings can become a little choppy - but still very safe.

Local high water - Avonmouth + 15 min.

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