The ACA Forum

Conserving the Devonshire Avon from source to sea


by | Nov 11, 2010 | Main | 2 comments

The Murray Rocks (Murrays) extend into the sea to the SE of Burgh Island, presenting a navigational hazard at high   tide or in rough seas when they are obscured from view.   Once upon a time, these rocks were marked by a pole with a cross on top but, more recently, only the broken remnants of a pole remain following  hammering by the sea. 

Murrays at low water

Murrays - Damaged marker pole

In the past, similar damage had occurred but was repaired through the voluntary efforts of Hugh Cater, I’m told.

A low definition chart showing the location of the rocks and associated information is available by clicking here:- Murrays chart

Considering the present situation to be dangerous to both local boat users and visiting boats, the ACA consulted Trinity House (who have responsibility for maintaining navigational markings) and we recently received the following response:-



‘I can confirm that our Inspector of Seamarks recently visited the area and observed the situation on site. His report has now been considered by mariners within our organisation who are responsible for deciding on navigational marking requirements. In making their decision, they have also borne in mind the charted and other published information available to those wishing to navigate in the area. Amongst other things they have noted that nautical publications aimed at recreational sailors recommend that local knowledge is necessary to attempt entry to the River Avon. I must therefore advise that we are unable to justify physical marking of these rocks at the expense of the General Lighthouse Fund (the Fund from which we are resourced) and that we further consider that any navigational marking, however resourced, is neither necessary or desirable. 

No doubt you will find this response disappointing, however we do consider that the risks associated with navigating close to the area of the Murray’s Rocks are such that they cannot be mitigated by the provision of aids to navigation’. 

This answer is indeed disappointing and rather puzzling!   In paraphrase – if you have an accident on the unmarked Murrays, it’s your own fault.   Why were the Murrays ever marked as a hazard in the first place?  Most small boat owners, out enjoying our local coastal waters, do not carry Admiralty charts describing every hazard and even with local knowledge about the dangers that abound when leaving or entering the Avon, it would be very helpful to have the full extent of the Murrays adequately marked.  Bigbury Parish Council have offered their verbal support for a new marker. 


Murrays - view from Burgh Island




Murrays - safe inshore anchorage






WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Please use our ‘Comments’ facility on this website to express your views.  You might  even  wish to attend the Avon Estuary Forum on 23rd November to have your say.    Can we, should we, pay for our own replacement marker?  Would you be prepared to donate towards it?


  1. John Peters

    Murray Rocks used to be clearly marked. How has their status altered as a hazard now that the marker has broken short other than to increase the hazard? Are Trinity House going to ensure that all publications indicating the anchorage behind Murray rocks are removed from circulation. It is general practice to make for an anchorage when there is sufficient water to get there and not to wait until the rocks show themselves. The location of the anchorage on charts and in pilot books is a separate matter to that of navigating the entry to the Avon. This anchorage was traditionally used by coasting vessels delivering materials to the Avon and awaiting collection by smaller craft. Recently a tug waiting to tow Gilaroo to Falmouth anchored there.
    An anchorage is sometimes used when a vessel is in difficulties such as a breakdown in its electrics. In future this will not be a safe haven with the loss of the marker making this length of coast a more hazardous passage.

  2. Richard Baker

    I have an 18 ft motor boat moored on the Avon and in Salcombe.I frequently travel by boat between the two. The Murray Rocks are completely covered at high tide which is the only time I can get off my Avon mooring and make an exit or entrance to the Avon. The cost of re-erecting the marker pole on the Murrays is small when compared to other maintenance work carried out by Trinity House. The improvement in safety to users of the river from this small expenditure far out weighs the cost. The only safe anchorage outside the river whilst waiting for the tide is inshore of the Murrays and in the lee of Burgh Island. Manoevring to this anchorage without the Murrays being buoyed or marked would be a much greater risk. The alternative is to try to stay in the breakers as they approach Bantham Beach.

    Has the RNLI got a view ?

    As a foot note:- I notice that the harbour buoys designating the speed limit are on a line with the Murrays, and the Murrays are inshore of Burgh Island, does this mean that Bantham Harbour Master and therefore S Hams DC have a responsibility ?


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