Pilotage For The River Avon

The club provides pilotage notes for members and visitors using the River Avonl. If using club moorings, users should be familiar with the following guidelines to effect a safe passage to and from the moorings.

Horseshoe Bend

Vessels going down the river against the flood are to stop above the Horseshoe Bend when vessels coming up river are rounding the bend.

Crockerne Pill

Crockerne Pill is immediately adjacent to the former clubhouse and home to a number of club moorings.

If a stop at Crockerne Pill isn’t viable or possible, boats can proceed 3.9 miles upriver to Bristol City Docks and lock in at Cumberland Basin as long as arrival is no later than 15 minutes before predicted high water. Contact Bristol City Docks on VHF Channel 14. If you do intend to lock in at Bristol it is recommended that you phone the Dock Master (0117) 927 3633 in advance to notify them that you require the lock. When they are not too busy, the operators at Bristol VTS may be able to notify the Dock Master on your behalf.

Chapel Pill

Chapel Pill is situated half a mile upstream of Crockerne Pill. The land surrounding Chapel Pill is private and there is no public access ashore. Club members are reminded that access is only permitted following written consent from the land owner. However the Pill can be viewed from the adjacent Bristol-Pill cycle path.

The journey via tender from Crockerne Pill to Chapel Pill is potentially very dangerous with large vessels navigating the river and occasional large standing waves in the river. A heavily laden tender will be less manoeuvrable and also have a greater risk of being swamped.  Always wear a lifejacket and call Bristol VTS (Ch12) for any shipping movements. A VHF radio should only be used on tenders belonging to a vessel with a VHF licence.

The tidal rate in the river can exceed 4 knots. If you want to travel in the direction of the flow then it is possible to get to Chapel Pill and back by rowing but be aware that you will be carried with the tide when crossing the river. Most trips in the tender should be made using an engine, if so it is necessary to carry at least one oar in case of engine failure. It is also essential to carry a bailer. At night display a light.

When making the journey via a tender the following risks are reduced if the journey is made on the Shirehampton side of the river.

  • Capsize – In case of capsize or swamping it is easier to get ashore.
  • Tide – The speed of the tide is somewhat reduced close to the northern bank.
  • Waves – The wind produced waves tend to be less close in to the northern bank.
  • Large Vessels – The deep water is on the south side and so is used by large vessels (both inbound and outbound) that may not be able to slow down due to problems with lack of steerage.
  • Crossing – Visibility is restricted by the bend in the river, it may be difficult to cross the river out of the way in the event of a large vessel passing.

It is advisable to call Bristol VTS Ch12) or Bristol Docks (Ch14) to check if there are any ships making passage in the river.