Slippery when wet! – Public Slipways of Torbay

If like us you are still waiting for that lottery win to fund your sea front/river front home with built in boat garage and private slip, you’re going to have to use a public slipway. Last week I was asked about the slipways available for launching in the bay, so if you too want to be in the know, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve used and use all three (and nearly ended up in the drink more than once or twice at most of them) so wanted to give some up to date info about which to use to help you get started. This is purely if you are launching and recovering, we aren’t going to talk about visitor moorings here though all three harbours do have them available if you want to stay in our lovely bay a little longer!

All three public slipways are operated and run by Tor Bay Harbour Authority, it’s these guys you’ll be paying your harbour dues to. Simply pop into the offices and talk to the clerks there. If you are coming in from out of area, the harbour offices are available on VHF channel 14. (Not sure about VHF? That’s okay, we’ll cover that in the future too!)

Torquay Slipway

Torquay slipway is located in front of Living Coasts marine zoo & aquarium at the furthest point of the town. This is nice and easy, as by car you can simply follow signage to Living Coasts to find your way there.

When you turn onto the harbour-front road with the smaller inner harbour on your right and restaurants on your left, as the road curves left to take you up a hill, there is a large pull in road with a barrier down off to the right by Torquay Harvester restaurant. Buzz yourself through the barrier, follow the road to the end and you will see the slipway on your right hand side past all the town moorings and against the inside of the harbour wall. This area is called Beacon Quay and you will see a big sign up just before the barrier too.

All slipways in the Torbay can be quite busy, and Torquay is no different, on nice days there are many launches of boats/jets skis and more happening at any one time. It is also used by the sailing club to launch the sailing dinghies from. So it’s a good idea to check if they have any events on.

Physically its a neat sloping concrete ramp that is not affected by the tides, so launching is nice and easy. The harbour office is close by and trailer storage is available here too. Once launched, you are right next to visitor pontoons and its a straight line out the harbour mouth to the Bay. Lovely stuff.

Paignton Slipway

Paignton is famous for its beach & pier, but if you follow the seafront to the south end of the beach, and turn left at the mini roundabout it will take you round the corner to Paignton’s own very sweet little harbour. This is smaller than Torquay and the public slipway is a little tighter to get to. Follow the road along the top of the harbour, ignore the first turning to the left (there are usually barriers up anyway) and turn down the second left you will see a blue restaurant with signage on for South Quay Café and TJ’s Restaurant.

Just past these you will see the public slip on your left hand side. This is a nice and comparatively shallow sloping ramp, but it has a big downside. It is TIDAL. You will safely have clear water about 2 1/2 hours either side of low tide, but this of course will vary depending on your vessel & trailer. The bottom of this ramp is sandy, and therefore will risk slipping or losing your trailer if launched at the wrong time. We’ve seen a few minor disasters happen here, be warned!

The upside, is a very quaint harbour, in the summer with a floating guest pontoon right next to the slip. This way if you miss the tide, you can always moor up, pop-out and come back again. Like Torquay, you will have a direct line straight out to the bay, just be sure to follow the buoys on exit, if you come out the harbour mouth and look to the right you will see a cardinal marker (not sure what this is? Keep following HomeintheBay fans, we’ll talk all about the buoys of the bay soon!). Stay on the left (port side) of this. It’s easily forgotten, and ‘In Bliss‘ had an emergency propeller replacement last season because of an early start and a sleep-fogged brain!

Watch out for fisherman – here and at Torquay, they love to fish off the harbour walls, and whilst we’re all about marine pursuits, if you’re in a boat its best to leave plenty of room, they have been known to use (and probably rightly so!) some colourful language if you get to close to any lines they might have out, and of course their fishing line can do your boat some damage too.

Brixham Slipway

The third public slipway to use is the largest, steepest and arguably the most difficult slip to get to. Although you can get to the slipway a few ways, we recommend avoiding going through the town and around the harbour front this is a little awkward, on account of busy, skinny and twisty roads.

We find the easiest route as follows: Take the left hand fork at the top of Brixham town signposted town centre. At the bottom here you will reach a traffic lighted crossroads, head right here up ‘Bolton street’ to another set of traffic lights, turn left (signposted Breakwater Beach) up a steep hill towards Brixham Rugby club, pass the rugby club on your right hand side and keep following until the road heads downhill again and eventually you reach a mini roundabout. Turn right and follow this road, the sea is now on your left hand side. Eventually you will see a steep left downwards to Breakwater beach car park, follow this, and turn left again back on yourself and the slip will be in front of you with the lifeboat station to the left hand side.

Right, so now we’re here, Brixham slipway can be used pretty much any time of day, however, when the tide is low you will see the end of slipway, same rules apply as Paignton, try not to drop of the edge! It’s a busy slipway, and usually somebody form the harbour authority is around to guide you. If not the harbour office is on the other side of town above the fish market.

Going out to sea from here takes a little more navigation, but don’t worry it’s still pretty easy. Infront of the slip is MDL Marina Brixham, travel around the outside of this between the marina and the Brixham breakwater wall on the right hand side, navigate through the boats on the swing moorings beyond and enter the main channel in and out of the harbour. Remember Brixham is a busy fishing port, so be sure to watch out for trawlers coming in and out at all times of the day and night.

Trailer Storage

Once you’ve launched it can be a pain if you aren’t local to store your trailer. Luckily there is trailer storage available at all 3 slipways. It is limited and they operate on first come first served basis, talk to the harbour authority on launch day, and make sure you’re early. This way you get longer on the water and are more likely to have a trailer storage space too!

Slipway Fees

The fees are the same for the slipways are the same whichever you choose, and the below pricing has been taken directly from the Harbour authorities website. This information is correct summer season 2019, but might have changed, check here to get the up to date list.

  • Up to 4 metres
  • Over 4 m up to 5.5 m
  • Over 5.5m up to 7 m
  • Over 7 metres
  • Jet Ski (RYA Qualified)
  • Jet Ski (Unqualified)
  • Trailer Parking
  • £10 per day
  • £11 per day
  • £12 per day
  • £1.94 per metre per day
  • £13 per day
  • £18 per day
  • £5 per day

Stay safe on the slipways

The harbour authority have some great tips for staying safe on the slipways, is super easy for accidents to occur when launching and recovering here’s the tips below:

Before Launching the vessel

  • Make sure your boat and engine are seaworthy
  • Take more fuel than you need.
  • Wear a well maintained and properly fitted lifejacket or buoyancy vest, carry in-date flares, a mobile phone, VHF radio, an anchor and suitable clothing.
  • Before leaving check the tides and weather forecasts.
  • Tell someone ashore when & where you are going & what time you will be back.
  • Make sure the bung (boat drain plug) is in! (Easily forgotten, trust us!)
  • Check your boat/trailer ball hitch is secure before launching.
  • Invest in some training if you are new to boating.
  • Avoid alcohol (it is a criminal offence to navigate a vessel whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol).

Launching your vessel

  • Please listen to any instructions from Harbour staff, they are there to help and keep everyone safe.
  • Remain patient and considerate to other slipway users.
  • Ensure you have sufficient help. (No-one likes a hero here)
  • Do not allow anyone to ride on trailers.
  • Watch out for pedestrians at all times especially behind your boat.
  • Always make sure the slipway is clear.
  • Remember – the slipway could be slippery!

After Launching your vessel

  • Do not leave vehicles / trailers / boats unattended.

Going to Sea

  • Always wear your lifejacket – it could save your life.
  • Comply with the 5 knot speed limit in the harbour and watch your wash. (It’s there for a reason)
  • Keep a careful look out at all times and consider other users.
  • Comply with the Regulations for preventing collisions at sea (COLREGS).
  • Comply with Tor Bay Harbour Bye Laws.

Remember – if you’re not actively launching or recovering a boat, you shouldn’t be on the slipway. If you just want to watch how it’s done, (which is a great idea when you’re learning), make sure it’s at a safe distance so you won’t be in anyone’s way.

And that’s it! Get out on the water, enjoy and stay safe! This post was started from a question from one of our followers. Feel free to ask us questions on our Facebook page and we will try to write answers to as many as we can.

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