26 Boating Basics How to cross Breydon Water

Beautiful Breydon Water, on the edge of Great Yarmouth, is an internationally important site for water birds. A cruise across it takes you to and fro between the northern and southern rivers. It can be challenging, so you need to prepare and take care.

Follow our guidance here for a safe crossing. 1

Think about your journey well ahead. You can contact our staff at Great Yarmouth Yacht Station on 01493 842794 or 07766 398238 (see page 21). They’ll work out the best time for you to cross and give guidance. If anything’s not clear to you, ask again. Leave a message if necessary (with your telephone number) and they will get back to you.


Plan your crossing so that you can go under Great Yarmouth bridges at slack water, which is about an hour after low water. The tide will be less of a hazard and you’ll have maximum clearance under the bridges. The tide tables on page 27 give the times of low water. Crossing at other times is inadvisable. There are two bridges close together. The old metal railway bridge, Vauxhall Bridge, is 7.62cm (3”) lower than the concrete road bridge, Yarmouth/Acle Road Bridge. You should be passing under bridges with at least 30cm (a foot) to spare.


Work out the time you need to leave your previous mooring by working backwards from the time you need to be in Great Yarmouth. It will take about 2¼ hours to get to Great Yarmouth from Acle and about 2 hours from Reedham or St Olaves. Make sure that you won’t be navigating in the dark – hire boats are not allowed to navigate before sunrise or after sunset as they have no navigation lights. Check the weather forecast – don’t cross if visibility is poor or there are strong winds.

Berney Arms Reach Broads Authority 24-hr free moorings for 8 boats

Take care here Always stay in the channel between the red and green posts.

Shallow water and mud

Lay-by mooring

Bridge Clearance

Watch out forwater skiers in the central straight of BreydonWater – see signs on posts

Clearance at average high water during the summer is given below but always check the bridge clearance boards (pictured right). Look out for additional advance clearance boards as you approach bridges 1 and 3 on the River Bure. The river is narrow and tides can be strong. Lower your canopy in plenty of time. Make sure everyone is down inside the boat.

1 Breydon Bridge 3.96m (13’) Go through the right-hand side span.

River Yare to Reedham

River Waveney to St Olaves and Oulton Broad

This map is intended as a guide. Do not use for navigation.

This map is reproduced by permission of

Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown Copyright and database right 2014. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100021573.

Navigate between the two arrows on the bridges.

Stop lights indicate you must not pass through the centre span.

3 2 Vauxhall Bridge 2.06m (6' 9'')

Yarmouth/Acle Road Bridge 2.13m (7')

Note: In all cases tidal levels can vary considerably and so affect the above figures.


Always wear life jackets when on deck. Have your canopy or mast lowered ready for passing under the bridges. Before going under any bridge check your boat height (shown on a plate in the cockpit or in the skipper’s manual). Check the bridge clearance boards to make sure that your boat will fi t under the bridges. Don’t steer your boat from the outside steering position – if something goes wrong you are vulnerable.


Check the map here to make sure you know what to do. Keep everyone inside the boat or cockpit during the crossing. Concentrate on what you are doing. The channel has some bends in it, but don’t take shortcuts. Never go outside the red and green navigation posts. If you get stuck, try and reverse. If that doesn’t work, call your boatyard.

Shallow water and mud

3 1

No hire craft beyond here

Dangerous tides and North Sea ahead

Demasting structure


Crossing Breydon Water at slack water – note how the navigation channel runs through extensive mudbanks

Mooring - tie the front rope fi rst. Be aware of the rise and fall of the tide in this area (about 2.2m or 7’) and adjust your ropes and fenders.

In an emergency call the coastguard on 999 or 112

River Bure to northern Broads

Shallow corner - go around yellow post

Great Yarmouth

Yacht Station Moor against tide – quay assistants will help when possible

NorthQuay Mooring for emergencies and demasting only

Haven Bridge

2021 Broadcaster


Shallow water and mud

Strong currents outside slack water

Dangerous currents



2.25 2.50

1.50 1.75 2.0


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