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Torquay: A Great Sailing Stopover!

After sailing from Studland we took a berth for a week on the visitor’s pontoon in Torquay. Before making our Lyme Bay crossing we had done much research as to where our arrival point should be. The main consensus is to head for either Brixham or Dartmouth with some even suggesting to avoid Torquay at all costs, but we have to disagree!

On arrival into Torquay we were fortunate enough to get the last spot on the along-side, walk ashore visitors pontoon, although apparently they do raft if need be. There are two visitor pontoons as you enter the harbour; one on the starboard side (along Haldon Pier) and one on the port side (V section of the town port), operated by Tor-bay Harbour, who also run the visitor moorings at Brixham and Paignton. The cost was only £10.00 per metre (May 2022), per week and includes water (please note that the water here is not suitable for drinking, and is also not available on the Haldon Pier pontoon) and access to toilet and shower facilities. Electric is extra at £2.10 per KW and is operated via a card system in a metered bollard. A point worth noting is that their visitor pontoon moorings are free for the first two hours, perfect for a quick wash down of the boat or a spot of provisioning! The staff here are also very helpful, and even took delivery of a couple of items for us that we had ordered online.

We were moored on the V section which is gated, the Haldon Pier side is not and appeared to be used much more by local speedboats and other watercraft. One thing we did notice is that the pontoon does make some strange noises at certain times! At the top of the pontoon there is a well stocked chandlery, a bar/cafe, a surf shop and a Harvester restaurant.

Torquay Harbour

Torquay is a popular holiday destination. In 2021 The Independent ran the story ‘Torquay is the top trending destination in the UK for summer holidays, according to TripAdvisor‘. Set on the popular, and rather idyllic English Riviera, Torquay offers some great attractions, a busy harbour, a beautiful sandy beach, an impressive coastline and a busy shopping zone.

The Harbourside and promenade is lined with palm trees, and with its impressive backdrop of pavement cafes, bars and restaurants, it is easy to see why this is referred to as the English Riviera.

Popular attractions include the English Riviera Wheel on the seafront which offers visitors amazing views over the town and harbour, the beautiful Princess Gardens with manicured flower beds and water fountain, and the many boat trips and watersports on offer by various local companies.

History fans will not be disappointed either with Torquay offering a number of attractions to appease the heritage enthusiast. The beautiful Torre Abbey on Torquay’s seafront is over 800 years old, Victoria Parade was named in honour of the place where Princess Victoria first stepped ashore when visiting Torquay in 1833, Princess Pier dates back to 1890, the Pavilion Theatre first opened in 1912 and the concrete slipways at Beacon Quay in the harbour were constructed for the embarkation of American troops during the Second World War. And of course the famous writer Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890!

Torquay Beach

But a quick google of Torquay will throw up stories which may have sadly contributed to its not so friendly reputation. ‘Torquay is the most dangerous medium-sized town in Devon‘ quoted CrimeRate in 2021. ‘Torbay has a Problem: The reality of life in poverty on the English Riviera‘ Devonlive.com covered in 2019 and, apparently, ‘Torquay is the place where the chav culture originated‘ (ilivehere.co.uk)!🤣

Sadly this mirrors many large UK towns but we don’t think you should allow this to sway you. Torquay is a great place to arrive into after crossing Lyme. Equally it would also make a great jump off point. For provisioning there is a Co-op, Iceland and Tesco Express all within the town centre. Asda’s is about a 2 mile walk up from the town. As mentioned earlier there is a chandlery, or, if you don’t need marine specific supplies, then Wilko in the town centre is great for household and other DIY products. The High Street can cater for all budgets and needs with stores such as Hoopers Department Store, Primark, TK Maxx, Saltrock, Sports Direct, Trespass, Boots, Superdrug, to name but a few, along with local independent shops. With regards to places to eat you’ll find the usual culprits such as McDonalds, KFC, Wetherspoons, Rockfish and Revolution plus everything from the very British Fish ‘n’ Chip’s to Michelin starred restaurants.

Torquay is also a great base for exploring Torbay, which we will go into in a later post. Buses run regularly from the harbour or you can hop on one of the many boat trips that can take you across the bay. There is a train station in Torquay, perfect if you wish to explore further afield or need to drop crew off. Likewise there is a car park right next door to the harbour, again perfect for any new visitors! And of course Torquay forms part of the South West Coast Path so you can expect to find some great coastal walks!

With everything on your doorstop we find it strange that more cruisers don’t consider Torquay as a stop over. Yes the town may have some ‘dodgy’ areas but we encountered no issues where we were. Don’t focus on the negatives, focus on the good..and Torquay has a lot of good qualities. Everyone we met was super friendly, we felt safe, the town looked well maintained and the Jubilee bunting just enhanced the quaintness! We even treated ourselves to a night at the cinema, something we’ve not done in a long time. (And in case you’re wondering we watched the new Top Gun film Maverick!) We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and no doubt will pay it another visit at some point again in the future. The pricing with Tor-Bay Harbour makes it very reasonable, however there is also the more expensive MDL Marina next door! Alternatively you can anchor outside of the harbour if the conditions are favourable.

One bit of advice…try and get on the V pontoon as opposed to the Haldon Pier side. The V side is gated whereas the Haldon side is overlooked by the pier and is open to anyone. The Haldon Pier is also used by locals waiting to lift their boats out at the slipway (or seemingly just leaving them there?) so can get quite busy. We also noticed quite a bit of ‘inconsiderate parking’ on both pontoons with people taking up too much space with little vessels. One 12m yacht was turned away as there was no space but with a bit of re-arranging they would have got in. If we could make a suggestion to the harbour we’d recommend them trying to combat this parking problem as we’re sure they could accommodate many more larger boats, and by that we’re not talking massive, just your average size 10 – 12m vessel!

London Bridge, Torquay

So if you’re after a secure pontoon with walk ashore access, hot showers, shops, bars and restaurants, a beautiful beach, impressive coastal walks, fuel and chandlery, then give Torquay a try!

VIDEO: Torquay

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