One of the great historic rivers of the world - the River Avon is the approach to the Port of Bristol. It was from here that Cabot sailed in 1497 in the Matthew to land in Newfoundland.
A sea-going replica of the Matthew is berthed in the floating harbour at Bristol.
The prosperity of the city was founded in the development of the port as an international maritime trading centre. Bristol was a major transit port for the infamous 'slave trade' of the 17th century between Africa and North America. Later, it handled diverse cargoes from all over the world.
The ss Great Britain,a forerunner of the great trans-Atlantic passenger liners, was launched at Bristol.
Today, the port is home for pleasure boats and commercial shipping is concentrated down river at the docks of Avonmouth.
The Bristol Avon is a fast flowing river with a great tidal range.
At low tide it dries almost completely to grey brown mud.
|The approach to Avonmouth has some of the fastest currents in the Severn Estuary. It is also a busy shipping lane and small craft need a good knowledge of seamanship and navigational skills.|
Because of high tidal range, the 5 mile passage from Avonmouth to Bristol City lock, at the entrance of Bristol Floating Harbour, must be timed with care.
Up to date charts and daily tide tables are essential and contact should be established with Avonmouth radio
| Boating facilities for small craft |
While awaiting a suitable tide, the recommended anchorage is in the Severn Estuary at Portishead Pool to the south of Avonmouth. Alternatively, if the tide is right, craft may lock into Portishead marina.
In the river itself, the small drying creek known as the Pill is the headquarters of the Portishead Cruising Club.
In Bristol harbour (City Docks), there are public mooring for visitors and the Baltic Wharf Bristol Marina.
For other web links relevant to the area see the Bristol Channel, Ports of Call and Severn Links.