With a summer of cruising stretching ahead of us, there are few lovelier places to be than the English Riviera, 22 miles of breathtaking coastline in South Devon. MDL’s three West Coast marinas, Torquay, Brixham and Queen Anne’s Battery in Plymouth, offer a range of idyllic destinations within easy cruising distance of one another.
MDL members are able to take advantage of the Freedom Berthing programme, visiting these delightful and characterful English holiday spots – part of MDLs 120 marina network - for no extra cost. MDL members can also buy fuel at cost, with Brixham and Queen Anne’s Battery both offering fuel stations. Additionally, members can sign up for the secure Beds On Board programme to recoup money on their annual costs, and make the most of storage ashore and boatyard discounts. All three are 5 Gold Anchor marinas.
There’s so much to see and do in Torquay, Brixham and Queen Anne’s Battery and with a busy social programme at each marina, the holiday begins as soon as you arrive.
Nestled in the north-east corner of Torbay and sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds, Torquay Marina is a safe haven in all weathers, with modern facilities, superb bluewater cruising and secure facilities.
The maximum LOA is 30 meters and there are 440 berths. The nearby MDL 7 acre Dartside Quay dry boat storage area has space for over 300 boats and a 65-ton hoist.
Torbay itself offers many lovely anchorages, with plenty of coves and beaches to explore, including Babbacombe Bay, Fishcombe Cove and Goodrington Beach. Heading south brings you to the picturesque fishing village of Brixham, where MDL also has a marina. Members can make the most of the MDL Freedom Berthing programme to cruise to neighbouring marinas (not to mention many further afield – 120 across the UK and Europe).
Head further west and explore the sheltered River Dart. Beyond Start Point is the beautiful Salcombe Estuary with spectacular 400 foot cliffs at Bolt Head.
The marina is also conveniently situated for crossing the Channel to Brittany, Normandy and the Channel Islands, ideal for a weekend away.
Torquay, which played host to the sailing events in the 1948 Summer Olympics, is a hugely popular destination for yachtsmen and all manner of watersports enthusiasts.
When it comes to drinking and dining, the Hotel & Restaurant John Burton-Race, masterminded by the Michelin starred chef, is a short walk from the marina. The Pier Point Restaurant & Bar, The Fat Cow and the Offshore Bar & Restaurant are all great destinations for fresh local dishes, lighter bites and drinks.
There’s plenty of entertainment organised at the marina, too. Join the flotilla and enjoy watching the famous Torbay air show from June 1st to the 3rd, or take part our flash rally to Guernsey in July. The Torbay Royal Regatta is on from August 25th - 29th, with a French Market on the water. Check the MDL website for all the other fun and games planned this year.
Torquay is a beautiful town with many fantastic bars, shops and restaurants well worth a visit. There’s also the beautiful Pavilion Garden, home to the English Rivera Wheel. The Wheel offers unrivalled views out over the harbour
“With the busy members events calendar and the amount of things to do in and around the bay, you’re not just berthing here, it’s more of a holiday package experience with the addition of a nice selection of restaurants and bars to choose from after a busy day on the water.”
By land, you can visit the marina via railway. Torquay Railway station is just a short walk from the marina. If you’re coming by car, take the A380 from Exeter then the Riviera Way. Thanks to recent improvements, journey times have been reduced by as much as an hour.
By sea, Torquay is a working harbour and visitors should read and abide by any safety signs and information to apprise themselves of potential hazards or dangers. Call 01803 200210 or VHF channel 80 call sign ‘Torquay Marina’.
Brixham Marina is in the heart of Brixham, one of south Devon’s prettiest fishing towns. Sheltered from the south-westerly winds and offering safe access in all weathers and at all states of the tide, it’s the perfect base for your sailing adventures.
The maximum LOA at Brixham is 18 LOA, although larger vessels can be accommodated by prior arrangement. The marina has 485 berths. There’s storage ashore available at the nearby MDL Dartside Quay.
Torbay has several beautiful anchorages and there are many fine restaurants to visit, both in Brixham and Torbay across the bay. To the west is the River Dart, and further on the spectacular Cornish coastline with the cruising grounds of Fowey, the Fal Estuary and the Helford River, all within reach.
Head east and visit Babbacombe Bay, the Teign Estuary and the River Exe. For the more adventurous, a cruise across to the Channel Islands is a popular weekend trip. Again, watch out for challenges from the wind directions.
Local area highlights
Brixham Harbour is located on the southern side of Torbay and boasts one of the largest fishing fleets in the UK, plus a thriving fish market.
Over 100 fishing boats land and sell their catch at the local fish market on the quayside. The comings and goings of the fishing fleet, made up of large beam trawlers and the smaller day boats, can be enjoyed from a visitor viewing platform.
The harbour is also home to a fleet of heritage trawlers, all lovingly restored by passionate enthusiasts and now offering chartered voyages.
For food and drinks close to the marina, the family-run Breakwater Bistro serves tasty bites, coffees and with panoramic views across the bay. The Prince William restaurant and bar, overlooking the harbour, offers quick bites, a la carte meals and a carvery.
There’s always plenty to do at the marina, check the MDL website for events. This summer, we’ll be enjoying all the action from the World Cup and Wimbledon, marking Father’s Day with special treats, and enjoying the annual summer party takes place on September 7th at the Berry Head Hotel.
The fishing harbour is buzzing from early in the morning when the fish auctions are held, until late in the evening when the seafood restaurants are filled with diners and a great atmosphere.
The nearby Berry Head National Nature Reserve offers spectacular views, coastal walks and fabulous food at the award winning Guardshouse Café, open for breakfast, lunch, Devon teas and cakes.
The marina is easily located in Torbay at N 50° 24' 31 W 003° 30' 85. The wind directions can cause some challenges but in the main, the marina is open all hours. The VHF radio is ch80.
By land, take the Brixham turn-off at Paignton on the A380 from Newton Abbot. Brixham benefits from the recently improved road network with journey times from Birmingham and Bath vastly improved.
Queen Anne’s Battery
Queen Anne’s Battery is in the centre of Plymouth, known as a City of the Sea and historic base to many famous seafaring voyages around the world. Offering outstanding facilities for yachtsmen and motor cruisers alike, there’s plenty to do on the water, in the town and at the marina.
The maximum LOA is 18 meters (42 meters on visitor’s pontoon). The total number of berths is 235 plus visitor berths. There’s boat lifting and storage ashore and 40 ton boat hoist.
The marina provides an ideal departure point for those heading off around the UK - Wales and Southern Ireland – are good destinations – or across to Brittany and further afield.
There is extensive cruising around Plymouth Sound. Further west there's plenty to explore in the rivers Fal and Fowey along the rugged Cornish coast. Heading east towards Devon, visit Dartmouth, Torquay and the pretty fishing village of Brixham. The Channel Islands are a popular weekend destination from Queen Anne’s Battery.
Local area highlights
As City Of The Sea, steeped in maritime history, Plymouth is a fascinating destination for yachtsman. Additionally, as home to the Royal Western Yacht Club, and many international short-handed yacht races start and finish here, including the single-handed Transatlantic Race, the Round Britain Race and the finish of the prestigious Rolex Fastnet Race.
The Sound Bites Café serves hearty breakfasts, delicious lunches as well as coffees and drinks. Chandlers Bar & Bistro on the serves excellent food and wines with a beautiful view of the Plymouth Sound and Drake's Island with the Cornish coastline as a backdrop. The large heated dining terrace makes it a cosy retreat by day or night.
There’s a fun-packed schedule at the marina this summer, with highlights including the summer party with the Royal Western Yacht Club on July 28th – a hog roast, drinks and dancing are on the cards this year. There’s the British Firework Championships to look forward to in August.
Plymouth is a lively and bustling city with plenty to do. The National Marine Aquarium is within walking distance of Queen Anne’s Battery. There are guided tours of Plymouth Gin and the interactive Pilgrim Fathers & Mayflower exhibition – or catch a show at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. There’s also a Vue cinema and Tenpin bowling just an eight minute walk away from the marina for a relaxed evening out.
John Tinkler: “Queen Anne’s Battery – a great place to park and right next to the sea. Chandler’s Restaurant is a great place to eat.”
Mike Read: “Coming to the end of another great season at QAB, thanks for all your help guys, always there to help with whatever the problem. A well-kept and clean marina.”
Ed Mant: “Helpful staff and polite. Good amenities. Sheltered from the wind and very clean and tidy. Lovely little pub with friendly staff and great food.”
From the road, join the A38 fast road to Plymouth from the M5 at Exeter. Coming via the sea, Queen Anne’s Battery is to the right of Plymouth Hoe at the mouth of the river Plym. There’s easy access to the marina opposite the historical Barbican area of Plymouth.
Contact the Marina on VHF ch80 on approach, or call on 01752 671142. Vessels should consult charts on approach.
Circa 1500 miles plus see some amazing sights, berths are available on a Challenger 72 that will sail from Portsmouth to the Norwegian Fjords and back.
The plan is to depart from Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth on 13th May and get to Norway 5 or 6 days later. Stavanger will probably be the first port of call. You’ll then spend 5 or 6 days exploring the dramatic fjords before reaching Bergen where we'll then head back down the North Sea through the oil and gas fields and on to Portsmouth.
Price is usually £1677 and includes all food on board, fuel, gas, oilskins and insurance. For MDL Members this has been reduced to £1425, a saving of 15%!
This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to build miles and get experience of a watch system / night watches / sailing up and down the North Sea / through the Dover Straits / navigating in the Fjords etc.
Challenger 72 is an extremely seaworthy yacht and built to sail around the world, a feat it has accomplished twice. A professional skipper and mate will also be provided.
Visit the First Class Sailing website for more information.
Which MDL site will you be heading to on Marina Day? Open to everyone, we’re throwing fun-packed family days out across the group on June 9th.
With plenty to do and try on the water, jaw-dropping displays, food stalls, great music and perhaps the odd tipple, it’s the perfect way to spend a summer’s day.
Marina Day started life at our Sant Carles Marina in Catalonia in 2015 and was such a hit that by last summer, the idea had spread right across Spain. We decided it was high time that our UK sites joined the party – we're hoping that other marinas will come on board next year and make this an annual, UK-wide extravaganza.
It’ll be a great opportunity for our members to mingle and bring along their friends and family, who are curious about life on the water. There’ll be plenty to entertain the little ones and those who are more comfortable on dry land.
Highlights from around the group include jet ski safaris at Sparkes, the Bomb Squad and their robots at Queen Anne’s Battery, jet rib rides with Saber at Shamrock Quay, a flyboarding display and light show at Torquay, sea kayaking at Woolverstone and lots more besides.
If you’re already a member of MDL, why not make the most of your Freedom Berthing membership and check out the action at another MDL marina - or maybe two?
Just some of the activities taking place at a marina near you can be found here!
Known as one of the toughest challenges on earth, made more difficult by raging seas, howling winds, sharks, blisters and salt rashes, sunstroke and sleep deprivation, there is little wonder that a mere 500 people have completed it, whilst almost ten times that number have been to the summit of Mount Everest and nearly twice the number have been into space.
EAT, SLEEP, ROW, REPEAT
It was wonderful to see so many of you celebrating the start of the new season during the Easter weekend. Even if the weather wasn’t entirely spring-like for everyone, waterside treats from the Easter bunny and a steady stream of hot cross buns emerging from the dock offices certainly set the mood.
What’s more, with a packed schedule of events on and off the water this summer, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to burn off any excess calories all those chocolate eggs.
Here are a few shots of the Easter bunny dishing out treats to members at Torquay (including one young sailor who exchanged all her dummies for an Easter egg!) and Queen Anne’s Battery. The office at Ocean Village was packed with around 50 members who called in to toast the new season with friends old and new.
Crabbing is an easy way to have fun with the family and introduce children to the wonders of marine ecology. ... We will supply the handline, a bucket, and the bait – crabs are particular to fish and bacon.
We have attached a link on how to keep the little crabbies happy and alive until they are released.
With winter finally, if reluctantly, giving way to spring, we’re excited about a fantastic summer of cruising and events.
The teams have been hard at work getting the marinas ready. The winter dredging programme is wrapped up – with a £1million investment every year, it’s no small undertaking. In 2016, enough material was dredged to fill more than 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The upgrade at Ocean Village is continuing, with a smart new look and members already enjoying the spa, gym, restaurants and bars at the luxurious Harbour Hotel on the waterfront. At Cobb’s Quay, a new a 40 ton hoist has been installed, meaning larger boats can now be accommodated.
As you’d expect, we’ve been planning our social calendar with as much attention to detail! Big news for this year is Marina Day on June 9th. After the enormous success of the inaugural family open day event at our Sant Carles marina in Spain in 2015 – the popular celebration spread to marinas across Spain within two years – we’re bringing the fiesta to the UK. It’ll be a day of music, food, fun on the water and entertainment into the evening. Don’t miss it.
Just a few of the other social highlights this year include ‘dress as you please day’ at Ocean Village in June (with prizes, of course!), outdoor film nights in July and August at Northney, adventure golf complete with cream teas at Hythe in June, the British Firework Championships at Queen Anne’s Battery in August and a beer and wine festival in September at Bray.
We’re looking forward to welcoming you, do pop into the site offices to say hello and don’t forget to make the most of your Freedom Berthing membership to visit other marinas in the group this season – and maybe even complete the set!
The world famous British Firework Championships is set to return to Plymouth's Waterfront. As the Hoe is the focal point for watching the Championships, entertainment is provided here throughout both evenings.
In addition to a fun fair, with thrill rides, Heart FM will be providing live music on a stage. Alternatively you can just sit and watch the comings and goings of yachts and other craft on Plymouth Sound.
Started by the Royal Western in 1966, the Round Britain and Ireland is one of the International classics of short-handed sailing, and over the years has attracted the great names.
The course is clockwise around all of Great Britain and Ireland, and there are compulsory stops of 48 hours at Kinsale, Barra, Lerwick and Lowestoft where the hospitality is legendary. It is always a terrific test of endurance and seamanship, and not for the faint hearted