Brightlingsea Harbour is a small mixed leisure and commercial port with a rich heritage, situated in Brightlingsea Creek close to the mouth of the Colne Estuary where it meets the Blackwater and Thames Estuaries.
The Harbour is within a nature conservation area of international importance. The River Colne is navigable on the tide for seven miles to Colchester in Essex and the River Blackwater is navigable for 11 miles to Maldon. Brightlingsea is a day sail from most ports on the Thames Estuary.
Brightlingsea Harbour is a Trust Port managed by Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners. The Harbour Master leads a dedicated team of permanent and seasonal staff who oversee the day to day activities within the Harbour.
The Harbour provides a total of about 500 berths and moorings and welcomes many visiting boats, which can number 100 on a busy weekend. Boats of up to 50 feet (15m) and 8 feet (2.5m) draft can be accommodated and a warm welcome awaits all. Facilities at Brightlingsea Harbour have steadily been upgraded over recent years and now includes the addition of a laundry facility for Harbour users and the sale of diesel fuel from a floating barge berth.
Navigating into the harbour
Approaching from seaward pass between red buoy No 10 and green buoy No 13 and head towards Bateman’s Tower at the entrance to the creek on the north shore. The entrance to the Creek is marked by a lit south cardinal buoy (Brightlingsea Spit Buoy) and a lit green beacon with a tide gauge showing the minimum depth on the line of the leading marks over the bar into the Creek.
If the south cardinal buoy (Brightlingsea Spit Buoy) is left close to port, the upper and lower leading marks (locally known as the Cricket Stumps – 2 white boards with vertical red lines by day and 2 fixed red lights by night). They are in transit at 041° T and when in line lie just below and to the left of the thin spire in the town skyline.
Follow a course with the boards / lights in transit.When abeam the green buoy turn to starboard to pass 50 metres south of the red buoy (Fl ev.5s). When the red buoy is abeam turn further to starboard and head to pass 10 metres north of the north cardinal beacon (quick flash by night) at the seaward end of the first pontoon. By day a welcome board is visible on the beacon.
There is a red unlit buoy on the north side of the Creek which marks the seaward side of the channel to the private Waterside Marina which has a sill which dries 1m above CD. A tide table for Brightlingsea can be downloaded here.
If vessels wish to berth in the harbour, there are normally pontoon moorings available for vessels up to 50’ LOA. For berthing instructions please call Brightlingsea Harbour on VHF Channel 68 when approaching the south cardinal and before entering the entrance channel.
The waiting area is to the north of the north cardinal beacon until met by a member of the harbour staff in the harbour launch, who will guide you to a berth.
If you arrive when there is no member of staff on duty, please follow the instructions below:-
- Pass between the first pontoon and the line of moorings heading towards the next pair of parallel pontoons.
- Berth in one of the visitors’ berths at the seaward end of the northernmost pontoon of the pair of parallel pontoons in the south channel 150 metres beyond the North Cardinal Beacon.
- If these are all taken, go into any empty pontoon berth large enough for your vessel where there is not a ‘Back Tonight’ notice, or go alongside another boat on one of the pontoons.
(Information from Brightlingsea Harbour website)
Brightlingsea Harbour Office
4 Copperas Road
Essex CO7 0AP