Port Elizabeth

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WorldAfricaSouth AfricaPort Elizabeth
Port Elizabeth
Port of Entry
33°57.348'S, 025°38.486'E Chart icon.png
lat=-33.9558 | lon=25.64144 | zoom=14 | y

The port of Port Elizabeth is not to be confused with the Port of Coega (or spelled Ngqura in Xhosa, one of the 13 official languages of South Africa) which is located at 33°49.09′S, 25°41.61′E.

Each port has its own traffic separation zone with a Safe Channel marker which can be confusing to the first timer if the approach to Port Elizabeth is from the northeast (approximately 060T).

Port Elizabeth (Xhosa: Ibhayi; colloquial Afrikaans: 'Die Baai') or known Madiba Bay is a city in South Africa, situated in the Eastern Cape Province at 33°57.48′S, 25°36′E, 770km east of Cape Town. The city normally referred to as PE and nicknamed "The Friendly City" or by December holidaymakers as "The Windy City", stretches for 16km along Algoa Bay.

Port Elizabeth is the southernmost city on the continent of Africa and is one of the major seaports in South Africa.

The protected bay known as The Bay, was officially discovered in modern times by Bartolomeu Dias. He sailed into Angra de Roca (Bay of the Rock, now called Algoa Bay) at end February, early March 1488, where he erected a wooden cross on an island which Dias recorded as ilhéu da Cruz or Santa Cruz (now named St Croix). It is known amongst the older Swartkops residents that the Portuguese seafarers used to replenish their fresh water stock whilst anchoring off-shore close to this island. An underwater freshwater river exits into the ocean at this location and fresh water was obtained by simply dipping buckets over the side. This river is located on a geological fault line. Sadly the construction of the Coega harbour has (as far as can be determined) destroyed this flow of fresh water.

A large number of wrecks are found on the reefs in and around The Bay. Interestingly, many wrecks are buried below the sands of the beaches. A witness of the strong storm winds and seas that sheared anchor rodes or caused ships to drag their anchors! The sad night of 1 September 1902 when 18 ships were driven ashore, bears testimony.

It is also known that the Portuguese seafarers used to sail into the Swartkops river and moor in the wetland or lake area. Two very old wrecks are known to be located below the bottom sands of the river. The construction of the N2 bridge over the Swartkops river (and lately the Coega harbour) has lead to the lagoon and mouth of the river to be almost completely silted up. Only ski-boats (read 1m draft) can enter and exit the river from the ocean and then only during the slack periods before and after high tide.

The town of Port Elizabeth was founded in 1820 to house British settlers as a way of strengthening the border region between the Cape Colony and the warlike Xhosa tribe.


1024 - Approaches to Port Elizabeth
1025 - Bird Island Passage
125 - Cape St Francis to Bird Island
2081 - Cape St. Francis to East London
641 - Approaches to Port Elizabeth—Port Elizabeth


Port Elizabeth has a subtropical climate with light rain throughout the year. The area lies between the winter rainfall, Mediterranean climate zones of the Western Cape and the summer rainfall regions of eastern South Africa. Winters are cool but mild and summers are warm but considerably less humid and hot than more northerly parts of South Africa's east coast.

The normal winds are the eastern and southeastern winds that can start blowing from about 10h00 and normal the wind speed is 15-25 knots. The sea is very choppy when the east winds are blowing and even salty sailors then can get seasick quite easily. Eastern storm winds are fairly common in the months of December to February with speeds of 35-50 knots the norm.

Western and southwestern winds occur in the winter months as the low cells sweep past the area. Normal wind speed is 10-15 knots, but these winds can also achieve 35-50 knots within one hour and without warning. The sea is normally very flat and ideal for sailing when the west wind is blowing.



Jahleel Island

Jahleel Island/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Jahleel_Island
Island icon Jahleel Island [[Port Elizabeth#Jahleel Island|Jahleel Island]] 33°48.310'S, 025°42.264'E

St Croix Island

St Croix Island/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#St_Croix_Island
Island icon St Croix Island [[Port Elizabeth#St Croix Island|St Croix Island]] 33°47.970'S, 025°46.182'E

Brenton Island

Brenton Island/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Brenton_Island
Island icon Brenton Island [[Port Elizabeth#Brenton Island|Brenton Island]] 33°49.065'S, 025°45.888'E

Bird Island

Bird Island/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Bird_Island
Island icon Bird Island [[Port Elizabeth#Bird Island|Bird Island]] (Lighthouse) 33°50.463'S, 026°17.226'E


  • SA Maritime Net: The South African Maritime Net operates 7 days a week, and provides weather reports from around the coast, and maintains contact with boats off the coast of South Africa and up into the Mozambique channel. There are two regular scheduled times as follows:
    • 06:30 UTC: Starts on 14316 kHz for 5-10 minutes, and then moves to 7,120 kHz.
    • 11:30 UTC: Starts on 14316 kHz for approx. 30 mins and then moves down to 7,120 kHz.

If you have a Ham radio installed you might wish to familiarise yourself with the network in SA by starting with the South African Radio League web site.

For Port Elizabeth Ham radio and other queries and spares you can contact Ham Radio.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets



There are a number of underwater dangers that have sunk a large number of vessels during the past centuries. These dangers are:

Passage from Port St Francis or Knysna
Thunderbolt Reef/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Thunderbolt_ReefDanger icon Thunderbolt Reef [[Port Elizabeth#Thunderbolt Reef|Thunderbolt Reef]] 34°02.500'S, 025°41.700'E extremely dangerous especially during misty conditions
The Riy Bank/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#The_Riy_BankDanger icon The Riy Bank [[Port Elizabeth#The Riy Bank|The Riy Bank]] 34°00.000'S, 025°52.002'E
Shallow section off Shark Rock Pier/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Shallow_section_off_Shark_Rock_PierDanger icon Shallow section off Shark Rock Pier [[Port Elizabeth#Shallow section off Shark Rock Pier|Shallow section off Shark Rock Pier]] 33°57.811'S, 025°40.481'E good anchoring ground just south of it
Devils Reef/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Devils_ReefDanger icon Devils Reef [[Port Elizabeth#Devils Reef|Devils Reef]] 33°58.875'S, 025°41.524'E about 500m from the end of Shark Rock Pier in a direct line to Shark Rock
Passage from East London
Bird Island/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Bird_IslandDanger icon Bird Island [[Port Elizabeth#Bird Island|Bird Island]] 33°50.209'S, 026°16.889'E (Lighthouse) a group of three islands with shallows - keep at least 3 nM away and do not pass between the land and the islands as the swells over the shallows are severe when the northerly wind is blowing
Evans Peak/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Evans_PeakDanger icon Evans Peak [[Port Elizabeth#Evans Peak|Evans Peak]] 33°50.598'S, 025°48.900'E an underwater pinnacle at 13 m depth - this can cause unexpected swells as it is in the middle of nowhere
Jahleel Island/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Jahleel_IslandDanger icon Jahleel Island [[Port Elizabeth#Jahleel Island|Jahleel Island]] 33°48.310'S, 025°42.264'E
St Croixl Island/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#St_Croixl_IslandDanger icon St Croixl Island [[Port Elizabeth#St Croixl Island|St Croixl Island]] 33°47.970'S, 025°46.182'E
Brenton l Island/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Brenton_l_IslandDanger icon Brenton l Island [[Port Elizabeth#Brenton l Island|Brenton l Island]] 33°49.065'S, 025°45.888'E
Swartkops River/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Swartkops_RiverDanger icon Swartkops River [[Port Elizabeth#Swartkops River|Swartkops River]] 33°51.859'S, 025°38.131'E - this river can come down in flood and carry tree trunks and other debris quite far out to sea
Whales and Dolphins
The bay has become a favourite breeding ground of large numbers of whales during most months of the year. Especially during the months of October to February, a keen watch should be kept for whales. The young bulls like to play and are quite active and surface where you least expect them to. Should you see whales blow, alter course and pass them as far as possible. Sleeping or sun basking wales are quite common and they normally look like a life raft from a distance.
Dolphins are present in large numbers and in the summer times they will come and welcome you, swimming alongside the boat.
Whales and dolphins are protected and you may not approach these mammals any closer than 300m (approx 6 cables).
Important factors to take into account
  • At night there are an extremely large number of lights from cars, hotels, shops, houses and other ships. This background clutter can be very confusing and great care must be taken to time and ONLY THEN identify any light.
  • The harbour is a working harbour and clearance must be obtained from Port Control before entering or leaving the port.
  • Large vessels entering and exiting the port do so at a minimum of 8 knots. These vessels look deceptively slow! Keep out of their way and out of the traffic separation zones. When you are approaching the harbour and notice a large vessel at anchor billowing smoke, it means she will be underway within 25 minutes. Surprisingly she will normally beat you to the entrance and you will be denied entrance and will have to heave to. Be extremely careful at night while awaiting clearance as the larger vessel's lights are very easily lost against the background clutter of lights. You will normally only notice her due to the disappearance of shore lights.
  • Call Port Control on VHF Channel 12 and request permission to enter. You can initiate your call by calling "Port Control, Port Control, This is vessel Non-such, vessel Non-such etc". Be aware that the operator sometimes will take a while to reply and the English reply can sometimes be incomprehensible. Continue monitoring on Channel 12 and Channel 16. Channel 11 is used for Pilot traffic and it is also good to monitor this channel if your radio can tri-monitor.
  • Entry is also controlled by a bright rectangular (long side parallel to the sea) light on the seaside, mid-way up the Port Control tower:
    • RED - FLASHING - When the red light is flashing the harbour entrance is CLOSED to shipping.
    • GREEN - When the light is shining green a ship is entering the harbour. Stay out of the traffic zone and watch your stern.
    • RED LIGHT - When the light is shining red a ship is exiting the harbour and you need to stay clear of the traffic zone.
    • NO LIGHT - When no light is lit, you may call Port Control on Channel 12
  • Very important - Fishing and trawling vessels are regarded as working vessels in the harbour and thus have right of way. A sailing vessel is under ALL circumstances the GIVE WAY vessel.
From East London or the East
  1. Approach at night
  2. Approach during the day
From Knysna and/or Port St Francis
BEWARE - When the Western wind blowing 25 knots or more, gusts will come racing down Happy Valley/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Happy_ValleyWorld icon.png Happy Valley [[Port Elizabeth#Happy Valley|Happy Valley]] 33°58.65′S, 25°39.05′E (bearing 227°T) and can unexpectedly hit your boat on the port side. You can normally see these racing upon the water's surface towards you.
  1. Approach during the day
    1. When approaching Cape Receife be very aware of Thunderbolt Reef (especially in misty conditions). The following course should be sailable in most wind conditions.
    2. Keep to the 40m contour (approximately 2nm from shore) until the Cape Receife lighthouse bears 310°T.
    3. Alter course to 000°T and sail for 3nm until the lighthouse bears 225°T
    4. Alter course to 312°T and sail for 2,2nm until you notice the Bell Buoy (East Cardinal Marker) on your port side bearing 220°T. This heading will take you between the traffic separation zone and Roman Rock. Sailing vessels are excluded from the zone.
    5. Continue on the heading of 312°T for another 3,5nm until you see the harbour entrance breakwater light ( V.Q. (2) R 13m) on your port side.
    6. Continue well pass the end of the breakwater until you can see the transit lights on the shore. The higher one is Oc 5s 24m and the lower Q.R. 19 m.
    7. Alter course to 238°T and follow the transit for a very short distance.
    8. Once you have the mouth of the harbour on your port side, find the directional leading light on a lattice tower. It is not easy to see at first glance! Continue on your heading of 238°T until the leading directional light turns from red to white.
    9. Alter course to 167°45'T (leading light transit) and follow the white light in. It will light white if you are on course. Too far to port (to the breakwater) it will shine red and too far to starboard (Port Control tower) it will shine green.
  2. Approach at night
    1. The approach will be identical to the daytime approach.
    2. The Cape Receife lighthouse is a sectoral one. While on your heading of 312°T and looking back at the lighthouse, you see the red light, then you are too close to the coast and heading for Roman Rock and other dangers. This can easily happen with the eastern winds blowing.
    3. Charts indicate a FL.R 3s light on Shark Rock Pier. This light does not exist anymore.


Port Elizabeth is a port of entry for South Africa. For details see Entrance: South Africa.


Port Elizabeth is a large commercial harbour. Yacht mooring is at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club (ABYC) marina to the South West corner of the harbour, just North of the Oil Tanks and West North West of the Manganese Ore Depot. Arrange with Port Control or with ABYC for a mooring allocation and customs clearance.

Marinas & Yacht Clubs

Algoa Bay Yacht Club

Algoa Bay Yacht Club/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Algoa_Bay_Yacht_Club
Marina icon Algoa Bay Yacht Club [[Port Elizabeth#Algoa Bay Yacht Club|Algoa Bay Yacht Club]] (ABYC) 33°58.018'S, 025°38.105'E
Port of Entry

A storm in Oct 2009 destroyed most of the floating fingers and several yachts sank with the fingers. Some floating docks are repaired and re-installed but, as of Oct 2011, there is no space for visiting yachts, one would have to tie up at the wall for the fishing boats. See more: ABYC-after-storm

[email protected]; Tel: +27 (41) 585 4058; Fax: +27 (41) 586 0095; VHF channel XX
Address: P.O. Box 1034, Port Elizabeth, 6000, South Africa
Prices: For the latest prices see Price Listing


The best place to anchor is opposite the Shark Rock pier, which is to the south-west of the harbour and to the north-west of the Eastern Cardinal marker known as The Bell Buoy. When anchoring here beware of the following:

  • Devils Reef/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Devils_ReefDanger icon Devils Reef [[Port Elizabeth#Devils Reef|Devils Reef]] 33°58.875'S, 025°41.524'E about 500m from the end of Shark Rock Pier in a direct line to Shark Rock. It is not chartered on most charts. It has damaged a number of keels of knowledgeable skipper's boats! It is sometimes barely visible at spring low tides.
  • The wind will normally turn North at about 02h00.
  • There are a number of areas that become very shallow during low tide.

When sailing in the bay to the north of the harbor be aware of the underwater farms with multiple submerged platforms and nets.

You can anchor in the area between the harbor quay and the farms, but the bottom has a lot of old engines, girders and other dumped scrap which can cause your anchor to become snagged.


Water ?
Electricity ?
Toilets ?
Showers ?
Laundry ?
Garbage ?
Fuel ?
Bottled gas ?
Chandlers See section on Marine stores
Repairs ?
Internet ?
Mobile connectivity ?
Vehicle rentals ?

Marine stores

There are four main shops for marine parts and spares:

Star Marine

Star Marine/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Star_Marine
Chandler icon Star Marine [[Port Elizabeth#Star Marine|Star Marine]] 33°58.914′S, 25°35.544′E

this merchant caters mainly for sailing vessels and is about 5 km from the marina

[email protected]; Tel: +27 (41) 581-8290; Fax: +27 (41) 581-8140
Address: 14 7th Avenue, Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Commercial Marine

Commercial Marine/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#.5Bhttp:.2F.2Fwww.commercialmarine.co.za.2F__Commercial_Marine.5D

this merchant is with walking distance of the marina and carries a larger variety of stock

Tel: +27 (41) 586 2624; Fax: +27 (41) 5862797
Address: Dom Pedro Jetty, PE Harbour, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Breakeven Supplies

Breakeven Supplies/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Breakeven_Supplies
Chandler icon Breakeven Supplies [[Port Elizabeth#Breakeven Supplies|Breakeven Supplies]] 33°57.97833′S, 25°37.84′E

his merchant is within walking distance of the marina. It caters more for the commercial fishing industry and also carries a large variety of stock at very good prices

[email protected]; Tel: +27 (41) 295 1676; Fax: +27 (41) 586 2797
Address: Baakens St, Port Elizabth Harbour, Port Elizabeth, 6001, South Africa

National Ship Chandlers (Port Elizabeth)

National Ship Chandlers (Port Elizabeth)/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#.5Bhttp:.2F.2Fwww.natship.net_National_Ship_Chandlers_.28Port_Elizabeth.29.5D

his merchant is within walking distance of the marina. It caters more for the commercial fishing industry and also carries a large variety of stock at very good prices

[email protected]; Tel: +27 (41) 484 7633/4; Fax: +27 (41) 484 7651; Mobile: +27 (82) 372 4233
Address: 9 Elizabeth Street, North End, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


There are two major shopping centres in Port Elizabeth. A number of malls in close proximity from these centres:

Walmer Park Shopping Centre/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Walmer_Park_Shopping_CentreProvisions icon Walmer Park Shopping Centre [[Port Elizabeth#Walmer Park Shopping Centre|Walmer Park Shopping Centre]] 33°58.808833′S, 25°33.5148333′E

Greenacres Shopping Centre/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#Greenacres_Shopping_CentreProvisions icon Greenacres Shopping Centre [[Port Elizabeth#Greenacres Shopping Centre|Greenacres Shopping Centre]] 33°56.981833′S, 25°34.7015′E

Eating out

Give the name of recommended restaurants, tavernas, pastry stores, etc.

  • Location1
Name/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#.27.27.3Cspan_style.3D.22color:magenta_.22.3EName.3C.2Fspan.3E.27.27Eatingout icon Name [[Port Elizabeth#Name|Name]] DD.dddDD.ddd description, tel. +XX XXXX XXXXX.
  • Location2
Name/wiki/Port_Elizabeth#.27.27.3Cspan_style.3D.22color:magenta_.22.3EName.3C.2Fspan.3E.27.27Eatingout icon Name [[Port Elizabeth#Name|Name]] DD.dddDD.ddd description, tel. +XX XXXX XXXXX.


  • Port Elizabeth Airport (IATA airport code PLZ, ICAO airport code FAPE) serves the city for both passenger and cargo traffic
  • Port Elizabeth railway station is served by South Africa's rail netwok

Sea rescue and emergencies

The National Sea Rescue Institute is on standby 24/24 and can be contacted for emergencies or other information required, such as piloting a vessel into the harbour.

  • NSRI Port Elizabeth (Station 6)
    VHF: Channel 16
    Emergency Numbers:
    +27 (0)41 507 1911 (port control)
    +27 (0)82 911 (Vodacom Emergency Centre)
    +27 (0)82 990 5970
    Office Telephone Number: +27 (0)41 585 6011
    Statcom: Ian Gray
    URL: National Sea Rescue Institute and more info at About NSRI Port Elizabeth
    GPS: 33°58'2.83"S 25°38'2.29"E



Give a short history of the port.

Places to Visit

Port Elizabeth and surrounding areas have a thousand attractions and things to do. From viewing the Big Seven to experiencing the absolute quietness of the semi-desert Karoo, each experience will be unique.


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



See South Africa.


We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

Verified by

Date of member's last visit to Port Elizabeth and this page's details validated:

  • Member: Mygoggie - 14:40, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

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