As well as being an ideal site for a wide range of recreational activities, the Exe Estuary is also home to an abundance of wildlife. Whilst exploring this beautiful area, please be considerate to other users and wildlife.
This guidance is aimed at all water users, from large commercial boats to small kayaks.
Exe Estuary Navigation Byelaws
Check for information at access points and adhere to the Navigation Byelaws (max. penalty £1000):
- Byelaw 4: Do not exceed speed limit as defined by charts and buoyage – 10 knots max.
- Byelaw 4a: Power boat area – powerboating allowed in marked area when predicted tidal height is 3.8m or more
- Byelaw 5: Skiing only allowed in ski area marked by yellow buoys
- Byelaw 6: Navigate with due care and attention and with reasonable care for others
For radio checks, current weather and tides plus live inshore water forecasts call Exmouth National Coastwatch on channel 65 (call sign ‘Exmouth NCI’), phone 01392 222492 or visit tidetimes.co.uk for Exmouth Dock.
Exe-pect the unexpected
- Check tides, currents, wind and weather before launching
- Let someone ashore know your plans and expected return time
- Always carry a suitable means of calling for help (e.g. waterproof VHF radio, mobile, whistle)
- Carry the correct safety equipment, including a personal floatation device
Exe-plore the estuary
- Be visible: make sure lights are used at night, including for paddlesports
- Where appropriate, use launch points
Exe-ist with other water users
- Keep noise and wake to a minimum to not impact on other users and wildlife
- Access points and slipways should be keep clear at all times and do not park vehicles on the foreshore
- Safely dispose of waste and prevent pollution from your boat
- Be aware of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, and explore training opportunities
- If in difficulty stay with your craft: it provides buoyancy and extra visibility
- In an emergency dial 999 (or VHF Ch 16) and ask for the Coastguard
Watch out for wildlife
The whole of the Exe Estuary is an important site for wildlife, including Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA). During winter, tens of thousands of birds depend on the Exe to rest and feed on their long migratory journeys, from areas as far away as Siberia.
All water users, including quiet, non-powered craft such as kayakers and paddleboarders can take steps to look after the site and avoid disturbing birds:
- Avoid voluntary Wildlife Refuges where safe to do so
- Avoid areas where birds are feeding or roosting
- Avoid dragging vessels through shallow water as this can damage habitats
- Choose anchoring sites carefully, avoiding eelgrass beds
Enjoy watching wildlife, but keep a distance of 100m, especially from birds gathering at high water. Where practical, avoiding activities two hours either side of high tide during September to March can minimise further disturbance to birds.
Please be aware that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb the wildlife in an SSSI or to damage or disturb land known to be an SSSI. It is also an offence to take down, damage or obstruct an SSSI notice or sign.
Contact details for further information
Exe Estuary Management Partnership
Exe Estuary Officer: Phone 01392 382236
Coastguard: call 999 or VHF Ch 16
Harbour Authority (River and Canal Office)
Office hours: Phone 01392 265791
Out of hours emergency: Phone 0845 351 1060
For general information: visit exeter.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/sport-and-leisure/waterways/
Lost and Found Craft
Contact the nearest mooring group or marina.
Contact the coastguard in case individuals are overboard or missing.
Exeter City Council Harbour Authority should be contacted if a vessel is a hazard to navigation.
Dawlish Warren Visitor Centre: Phone 01626 863980
Exmouth Local Nature Reserve: Phone 01395 516551
Natural England – Devon office: Phone 0300 060 3900
Injured marine mammals (BDMLR): Phone 01825 765546
SEDHRP Mitigations Officers: Email email@example.com