Cardiff Pilot Notes & Charts

Pilot notes are meant as a general guide, or for use in conjunction with a Pilot book or chart.
St Georges & Bristol Channel Chart - NOT TO BE USED FOR NAVIGATION

Unauthorised reproduction strictly prohibited - Terms & Conditions

Approaches to Cardiff
The busy commercial Port of Cardiff, owned and managed by Associated British Ports (ABP), lies approximately half a mile to the north of the Outer Harbour. All shipping for the port must use the narrow dredged channel, know locally as the Wrach Channel, the entrance to which is marked by the Outer Wrach cardinal buoy.
Whilst in the approaches to the channel and in the channel itself commercial vessels are constrained by their draught and will be unable to manoeuvre freely. ABP's Harbour Master therefore recommends that leisure users keep close to the Penarth side of the harbour. If a crossing of the Wrach Channel is unavoidable it should only be attempted when the channel is clear and at right angles. ABP's Harbour Master further recommends that leisure users maintain a listening watch on VHF Channel 69 to hear safety of navigation broadcasts made by Severn VTS, an Information Service Vessel Traffic Service based in Cardiff.
Information on expected and actual shipping movements for Cardiff and all other ABP ports in South Wales together with other safety information for marine users can be obtained by reference to Severn VTS's website on

Pilotage - Cardiff Bay Barrage
Passage into Cardiff bay from the Bristol Channel is relatively simple. Vessels are required to lock in through one of three locks which are located in the Outer Harbour. The Outer Harbour is dredged twice a year to Chart Datum which facilitates 24 hour access into the bay dependant on draught on all but the lowest of Spring Tides. Inbound vessels should pick up the main shipping channel (Wrach Channel) which leads to ABP Cardiff Docks. The Barrage Channel is marked by a series of lateral buoys which lead off to port from the main channel.

The Barrage locks are operational all the year round on a 24 hour basis. Barrage Control operates on VHF Channel 18 and can be contacted on 02920 700234. An initial call should be made when vessels are in the vicinity of the Outer Wrach Cardinal Buoy to arrange to enter the outer harbour and lock into Cardiff Bay. Vessels should not enter the Outer Harbour without obtaining permission from Barrage Control.

Barrage Traffic Signals
Traffic Lights are located on each of the three locks and on the Northern breakwater which coordinates entry to the Outer Harbour.

Light Signals
Three Vertical Flashing Red
Emergency : Stop and Contact Barrage Control
Three Vertical Red
Do not enter lock
Three Vertical Green
Enter Lock
Green, White, Green
Enter Lock on instruction from Barrage Control

Pilotage into Penarth Quays Marina
Once clear of the Barrage locks, vessels should turn immediately to port where they will see the marina entrance. Vessels should call Penarth Marina on VHF Channel 80 to inform us of their intended arrival whilst they are waiting in the Barrage Lock or immediately after entering Cardiff Bay. The level of water within Penarth Quays Marina is normally held at the same level as the water within Cardiff Bay. This means that vessels are able to pass between the marina and Cardiff Bay on freeflow and avoid locking. Normally vessels will be able to proceed straight through the lock into the marina basin. Visiting vessels may be asked to wait on a reception pontoon in the lock where they will be met by marina staff and allocated a berth.
It is important to note that if the level of water has been dropped within the bay it may be necessary to lock the vessel conventionally into the marina. Skippers should be aware that a slight flow may be experienced within the marina lock barrel.

Traffic Lights
Vessel movements into the marina are controlled by traffic light signals and are as follows:
Double Red:
Danger Keep clear of lock
Single Red:
Lock in use, keep clear.
Enter lock on instruction from marina staff

Click here to visit our sponsorClick here to visit our sponsorClick here to visit our sponsorClick here to visit our sponsorClick here to visit our sponsorClick here to visit our sponsorClick here to visit our sponsor