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Dag Pike is rewarded with a quiet spot to anchor at Martin's Haven after navigating the tidal races along the Welsh coast
Escape to Martin’s Haven, Pembrokeshire
The west coast of Wales has some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the country and the area around St.Brides Bay comes somewhere near the top of the tree.
Much of the coast here is still wide and remote, and access can be quite challenging.
Martin’s Haven at the southern end of the bay is a great anchorage, but to get to it you have to either navigate through the tide races of Jack Sound, if sailing from the south, or those of Ramsey Sound, if approaching from the north.
Transiting these tidal races requires precise timings to make sure you sail through both of them at slack water.
There is the option of taking the long way round and coming in from the west but even then you will have to cope with the strong tides that stretch quite a way out to sea.
Credit: Maxine Heath
If you are approaching the area from Jack Sound then do not sail too close to the eastern headland, which is Wooltack Point, as there is a drying rock about 200m to the west of the point.
Otherwise there are no off-lying dangers.
Martin’s Haven is worth the challenge if you are seeking an anchorage away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world.
Tucked into the shore where it turns back to the east just north of Jack Sound, this cove is home to the boats that take people out to the nature reserve of Skomer Island on the west side of Jack Sound.
These boats operate from spring through to the autumn, making several trips a day, so the cove does get a bit busy.
Ashore, the National Trust car park does attract its share of visitors, but once evening approaches all goes quiet so you may have the place to yourself overnight.
The ferry to Skomer does have its own mooring buoy in the middle of the cove where it moors up overnight.
Dive boats also moor here on their own buoys, but there is still room to anchor towards the mouth of the cove in about 6m of water.
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If it feels too cramped for you then there are more coves further to the east along the coast that tend to remain empty.
There is also another anchorage just inside Wooltack Point which offers shelter from the west, but you might get refracted waves coming round the headland in a fresh westerly.
All of these coves offer shelter from southerly and westerly winds but if there are any northerlies these bays become exposed and are not viable.
Make sure you check the weather forecast before anchoring here. St.Brides Bay is wide open to the west so there is always the risk of a swell running in to disturb your night at anchor, but the rewards of these anchorages are considerable in terms of wildlife and scenery.
There are no facilities at Martin’s Haven, but it is a beautiful location and if the weather allows, is peaceful and quiet.
There is a cottage on the shore which has been converted into a visitor centre for the Wildlife Trust, but if you want a pub then there is an anchorage in the small bay close by Marloes village where you will find the Lobster Pot Inn.
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