Safe anchorages are hard to come by on Cornwall's north coast. Carbis Bay and St Ives are two options for those heading to and from Land's End, says Dag Pike

Carbis Bay & St Ives: shelter on Cornwall’s north coast

Coming from the north or from the Bristol Channel, you might want a break before tackling the challenging seas and tides off Land’s End, writes Dag Pike.

Coming up from the south after rounding Land’s End, the first chance to stop is in the deep waters of Carbis Bay.

Now that the world leaders have gone home from their G7 summit in West Cornwall and left the area peaceful again, you have choices here for an anchorage.

If your plans include a run ashore for food and drink then anchoring off St Ives is probably your best bet because this popular seaside town has more than its fair share of hostelries.

Chart showing anchorages for Carbis Bay and St Ives

Credit: Maxine Heath

If a quiet night at anchor is top of your list of priorities, then it is best to head a bit further south for a night anchorage in Carbis Bay.

St Ives is a busy port used by several fishing boats along with a considerable number of tripper boats in the summer months.

The whole harbour dries out at low water; to find a spot, your boat will need to be a bilge-keeler and you will probably have to pick up a mooring.

Cruising yachts are much more likely to find an anchorage outside the harbour than a drying berth inside.

Carbis Bay

In a fresh westerly the swell coming in from the Atlantic can end up getting refracted around the St Ives headland.

However, you can find reasonable shelter in anything from the prevailing south-westerlies.

Just south of the rock off Bamaluz Point is a good spot but can get crowded. I would tend to head south of the harbour and tuck in just north of Porthminster Point.

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Beware of the rocks lying off the point. It is a bit further to get ashore from here but it should be a bit more peaceful and more sheltered.


Dag Pike was one of the UK’s best-known nautical journalists and authors, covering both sailing and motor boating for many years.

Landing in St Ives with a tender can be a challenge in the summer months because the beach inside the harbour is usually full of holidaymakers.

The best spot is either at the slipway or by the pier adjacent to the lifeboat slipway.

On the ebb you may have to carry your tender a fair way along the sand in order to get back to the water.

I much prefer to escape the crowds and anchor further south in Carbis Bay.

You probably will not want to go as far south as the Carbis Bay Hotel unless you want the wide sandy beaches here, but a quarter of a mile south of Porthminster should be about right, where the only disturbance is likely to come from the passing trains along the cliff top.

South of here you are likely to find the waters very busy on a summer’s day, with the beaches and the shelter from the wind being the main attractions for visitors, but the evenings should be tranquil, with only the sounds of the sea and the ever present cries of the seagulls.