Murray’s Bay, Robben Island

**Important Notes: Chart extracts, Sketches, GPS co-ordinates and descriptions are given as a guide only and are not verified nor guaranteed comprehensive. Not to be relied on for navigation! Use at your own risk.

Useful Charts & Publications

  • SAN1013 – INT 2681 Approaches to Table Bay with insert for Murray’s Bay Harbour
  • South African Nautical Almanac ISBN 978-0-9921810-0-0
Murray’s Bay, Robben Island

Robben Island General

  • An exclusion zone was established around the island circa March 1998 which is technically still in place but appears to not be actively policed by the island authority.
  • No unofficial craft may approach within 1nm of the low water mark
  • No craft may anchor within 1nm of the low water mark
  • Going ashore is not allowed unless via approved tourist/ferry services
  • In terms of navigating or anchoring within the exclusion zone please take note that this remains technically illegal and the master of the vessel should make his/her own informed decision if intending entry and anchorage here.

Murray’s Bay proper [approx. 33o48.018 S; 18o22.704 E]

Murray’s Bay is marked on the official charts as being just off the sand beach to the south of the Robben Island harbour entrance. The shoreline and shallows on this eastern section of the island have dense underwater kelp forests which dictate how close in one can anchor. Typical depths on the outskirts of the kelp are 7-10m.

Should one choose to anchor in the area marked “Murray’s Bay” care should be taken to ensure that the yacht does not encroach on the harbour entrance channel since the busy ferry service between Table Bay harbour and Robben Island plies this route every day of the week. Several yachts have reported having successfully anchored here for lunch at times.

This spot should be useable in winds from South through NW. Northerly through south-easterly winds will have the prudent skipper weighing anchor and moving on.

Murray’s Bay north [approx. 33o47.641 S; 18o22.667 E]

Perhaps a preferred spot to anchor is just north of the harbour where one can find fairly good holding in about 7-10m and there is no risk of impeding any traffic movements at all. This anchorage is only tenable in winds from South to West and there always some SW’ly swell which refracts around the island even on calm days. In winds anywhere from NW through to SE it would be advisable not to anchor here.

Approaches and surrounding dangers

SW’ly Swell
The entire southern and western coast of the island is subject to continuous SW’ly swell and due care must be taken to keep a safe distance offshore. The numerous wrecks which dot the island should be enough to warn the prudent skipper of the dangers.

Whale Rock
Whale Rock lies to the south of the island and is marked by a south cardinal bouy. Yachts approaching from the south and west should leave the cardinal bouy to port by a suitable margin and only shape a course northerly toward the anchorage once the eastern shore can safely be navigated.

The entire eastern shallows are dense with kelp. This dictates an anchoring depth of 7-10m in both spots indicated.

Robben Island Ferry Service
The ferry runs regularly at 1-2 hour intervals most days of the week. The harbour entrance channel should at all times be kept and leisure craft should ensure they do not impede ferry or other commercial operations at any time.

Nearest Safe Haven

  1. Table Bay Harbour [7nm]
  2. Murray’s Harbour [in a dire emergency only since entry is technically denied to unofficial vessels]


  1. Mobile network reception could be available
  2. VHF14/16 [Cape Town Port Control] could be reachable
  3. VHF16 could fetch a response due to proximity to large ship anchorage or from Cape Town Port Control.

Miura “Ocean Blue” at anchor in Murray’s Bay North, February 2022.

One thought on “Murray’s Bay, Robben Island

  1. Paul says:

    You’ve covered the anchorages well. I prefer Murray’s Bay north of the harbour. It’s a bit more discrete and you get more protection from the SW or W breeze behind the harbour wall. However, the cormorant colony on the breakwater adds a ‘close to nature’ odour to your lunch! South of the harbour I know of two yachts that have fouled their anchors on a cable. They did manage to free themselves after a battle!

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